Taiwan offers hikers and trail runners a wide variety of terrain, although not much of it flat, and Jiufen is a prime example. The city was originally and still is, built precariously on the side of a mountain, giving it some of the most unique architecture seen in Taiwan.
Jiufen has attracted visitors throughout the ages and continues to bring swathes of daytime visitors from Taipei to marvel at its old streets. Fortunately the old streets are not all Jiufen has to offer, as there is also substantial hiking in the area.
There are 2 ways to get to Jiufen, we scootered from Taipei, taking just over an hour, or you can take a train, first to Riufang and then there is a bus which can take you to the city. Jiufen, being relatively close to Taipei, makes it perfect for a weekend getaway.
Much of the city of Jiufen appears to be privately owned, luckily it is still accessible, making it easy to wander up and down the streets of the small city, with the occasional glimpse of the ocean in the distance.
To get to Teapot Mountain we went east away from the centrally located Jiufen Elementary School, in the direction of a large grave yard. From here continue south-east towards the Gold Ecological park, where the hiking will begin.
The mountain roads separating the ecological park and Jiufen, are precarious and winding. In an effort to avoid traffic, we tried some of the forest paths and were met with countless large spiders, and thick jungle. In the end, despite our effort to find a suitable trail, we were somewhat confined to road on the way from Jiufen to the Gold Ecological park which is approximately 1.5km. If you would like to omit this, there is also a bus that goes from Jiufen directly to the park.
Finally when arriving at the ecological park, bypass the tourists and head to the back of the park, up a hill to The Shinto Shrine ruins. This is a popular place for tourist to views ruins from the earlier Japanese occupation and marvel at the coastline below. Luckily, from here, the trail becomes much less crowded, perfect for enjoying the ocean breeze, which sweeps across the silver grass covering the hill tops.
Reaching the top of the hill there is a split in the path, leading either immediately to the road, or going through Baishan Ecological park. The paths through Baishan park wind switch-back style, eventually reaching the road at the top. This is the most runnable section of this trail and provides consistent hill training and is dotted with signs depicting the importance of some areas of the park.
Once Baishan park reaches the road, signs appear for the entrance to the Teapot mountain hiking trails. Crowds continue to dissipate as Teapot mountain gets closer. Although Teapot Mountain is incredibly beautiful, it is also quite treacherous and doesn’t see much foot traffic due to the steep cliffs and narrow trail. Run slowly, if at all, take plenty of breaks to enjoy the ever-changing scenery, and patiently adapt to the rigid mountain tops while negotiating steep cliffs on either side.
After 2km of breath-taking views, at a leisurely pace, you will find yourself at ropes leading to the bottom of a cliff. From the cliff, this point to point trail leads to a road exit where you can return to Jiufen.
Although not as impressive, the trail continues along small ridges, and through boulders before finally reaching the road. If you make it just before sunset, you can join the other photographers trying to capture the sun as it disappears over the mountains. Despite the impending dusk, we continued on foot. The roads from the Gold Ecological Park to Jiufen are lit by the residences surrounding them, and the vehicles take these treacherous roads somewhat slowly, cautious given the constant stream of tourists in this area.