If you are looking for a long run through some varied forest, this would be it. Starting at Rueifang (less than 40 minutes from Taipei), this trail takes runners up to the hills of Banping and Teapot Mountain and then south into the jungle, and eventually towards the small village of Shuangxi, where runners can make their way back to Taipei.
The run starts with a good 4k warm up on the road from Ruifang in the direction of Houtong. To avoid the road, runners can also take the train to Houtong, but those trains are less frequent.
The trail head starts on Rueihou Rd, and leads up behind Jiufen in the direction of Banping Mountain. This section is an unrelenting stretch of inclines, the longest being 300m of elevation gain in a kilometer. Finally, the trail levels off, reaching the summit of the small mountain (km6) overlooking the village of Jiufen below.
From here, run across this ridge heading East. The trail is wide and on each side covered in long grass. From here, you continue to catch glimpses of Jiufen far below. Eventually, there is another trail head (km 9), continuing on either road or going down towards the ecological museum. Turn towards the ecological museum and enjoy the wide grassy switch-backs descending towards the village below.
The switch backs abruptly end with a choice of heading up or down stairs (km10.5). The stairs leading down will take runners directly to the ecological museum before they turn to run up first Teapot and eventually Banping Mountain. We opted for up, putting us on top of Banping Mountain, before heading down hill to Teapot and the museum below. Taken from either direction Banping Mountain offers a treacherously narrow path but beautiful views of the rich blue of the ocean to the north and layers of mountain tops in all other directions.
Banping Mountain, is the highest elevation you will find on this run, at 675m above sea level it doesn’t seem huge in comparison to most high mountains you will find in Taiwan but the location of this modestly sized mountain has much to offer runners in the form of technicality, dizzying heights and a solid ocean breeze. From here, we went down to Teapot Mountain, BanPing’s better known, smaller sister. The terrain here is not as treacherous, but runners will have to pass through a small cave to continue on the trail.
Afterwards, turn towards the Gold Ecological Museum and fill up on snacks or water here, as this half way point (km 15) is as close to civilization as you’ll find yourself over the next several kilometers.
Leaving the Gold Ecological Museum, head back up the hill near the Shinto Shrine back to the trail head for BanPing Mountain. Instead of turning left, however, proceed straight over this small mountain range and eventually into the jungle below. From here (km 17), the run starts out in a barren landscape, and looks to be the remnants of an old mining road. Two kilometers later, the route turns into forest, a well groomed trail that follows a river, eventually turning into a mandatory river crossing. The scenery is constantly changing throughout this downhill section, stone road, forest floor, jungle path, river crossings and eventually coming out near a farm and leading onto the road at kilometer 24.
Following the paved farm road down, we eventually found ourselves at an intersection at kilometer 26. Following the GPX map, it instructed us to go straight through the field, but in the long grass it was difficult to find a road. Eventually we trod through the field and found a small path on the other side. Although it looks like the field has long been abandoned, at almost 500m above sea level it offers a beautiful view.
From here, the trail makes a gradual, rolling descent to the road. The occasional clearing for an electricity pylon allows for a view of the ocean and Fulong beach in the distance. Just after kilometer 28, the route turns to road, turning inland towards Shuangxi station. If you are ambitious, there is still plenty of trail to tackle in this area, some taking runners all the way down to the beach. After 28km and 1764m of ascent on a hot September day, we decided to follow the roads inland and eventually found ourselves at the tiny town of Shuangxi, waiting for the local train back to Taipei.
Overall this is a great trail, lots of different terrain and many landscapes to see. Plan for an entire day and bring all supplies with you. Please also keep in mind that the Teapot Mountain area is very treacherous during extreme weather.
You can find download the GPX map here.