Hiking Elephant Mountain: The Best free thing to do in Taipei.

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Craving a nature trip right in the heart of Taipei, Taiwain? Make sure to add Elephant Mountain, also known as Xiangshan, to your Taipei or Taiwan itinerary.

With a modest height of 183 meters (600 feet), it’s relatively short compared to the other peaks in Taiwan, like Yushan and Xueshan. But don’t let its size fool you.

Once you reach the top of this mountain, you’ll find out why it’s one of the most beloved Taipei attractions. 

Whether you’re hiking Elephant Mountain at night or in the morning, you’ll be rewarded with arguably the most stunning views of the city.

Quick Facts:

  • Altitude: 183 meters
  • Location: Near Xiangshan MRT Station
  • Trail length: About 1.5 kilometers (0.932057 miles)
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
  • Hike duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your pace

How to go to Elephant Mountain, Taipei 

Although you can take a taxi to the start of the trail, we suggest taking the local Taipei Metro. The Xiangshan Metro Station (on the red line) is the nearest station to the start of this short hike.

It’s hard to miss this station because it’s the final stop on the red line. After the train ride, follow the metro station’s signs and head to Xiangshan Park.

Walk through Xiangshan Park until you reach the end. Afterward, turn left and climb the hill.

You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see a staircase with green railings and a sign with elephants.

When is the best time to visit Elephant Mountain in Taipei?

One of the things that makes this attraction user-friendly is that Elephant Mountain in Taipei is open year-round.

There’s no fee to enter this picturesque area and no gates to access the trail.

Best time of the day to hike this mountain:

This hike is open throughout the day, meaning you can see Taipei in many ways from its vantage points.

It’s advised to hike this trail in the morning in order to avoid the crowds. 

If you visit this mountain in the afternoon, expect a busier and larger crowd, meaning it will take a while to get that perfect tourist-free picture.

Nighttime is a great option, too. With magical views of the city lights, it’s surely a pleasant and memorable experience. Plus, lamps are lighting up the trail to ensure the safety of the tourists.

While sunset is a beautiful time to visit Elephant Mountain, we recommend beginning the hike between 5 and 6 AM. This allows ample time to hike the 45-60 minute trail and arrive just in time for sunrise without encountering many tourists.  

Elephant Mountain Overview 

Elephant Mountain is part of the “Four Beast Mountains.” These mountains are named after animals and are subsidiary peaks of the taller Mount Nangang.

Elephant Mountain is named for its resemblance to an elephant, which reflects Taiwan’s tradition of connecting natural landscapes with animals.

This local tradition is also seen in other parts of the “Four Best Mountains” in the Nangang Mountain System, including Leopard Mountain, Lion Mountain, and Tiger Mountain.

While specific historical details about the mountain itself are limited, its prominence in the city’s culture and landscape is notable.

In 2004, the construction of the famed Taipei 101 made this mountain even more appealing.

Featuring unobstructed views of the architectural wonder, Elephant Mountain became a hotspot for sightseers and photographers.

What to expect on your Elephant Mountain hike 

The hike is moderate, and although all ages and skill levels can tackle the trail, it can be challenging for those who are not in shape or not used to walking up steps. 

The entire hike consists of walking up 600 steep concrete steps. The steps are well-maintained, and the path is lit at night. 

First platform

The first 8 to 10 minutes of the walk is all enclosed, which means no city views. While there are a few openings to the track’s side, it’s mostly covered by trees.

Soon, you’ll arrive at the first viewpoint of Elephant Mountain. Although it’s the lowest of the mountain’s three lookouts, it still offers an excellent view of the city and Taipei 101.

Instagrammable rocks

Keep walking up the stairs until you arrive at the popular viewpoint. 

It’s where you’ll find 6 massive rocks and tourists lining up to capture the signature shot of Taipei 101 from the mountain.

It’s a popular spot and is 500 steps from the start of the hike. It’s the best spot to take a picture of yourself without the crowds and with the city in the background.

Additionally, it’s the most natural-looking among the viewpoints. And it’s not as crowded as the other two viewing platforms.

Last platform

Once you’ve finished taking pictures and taking in the views, climb up to the final viewing platform. 

When you reach this platform, brace yourself for views that will have your social media channels buzzing.

A covered platform, it’s the ideal place to watch the sunset and enjoy a panoramic view of the city’s skyline.

Other practical tips

  • Bring at least 1 liter of drinking water. Stay hydrated because Taiwan’s humidity can get to you, especially when climbing a mountain.
  • Bring mosquito repellant.
  • Carry lightweight and healthy snacks.
  • Bring a hat to prevent sunstroke. Also, wear sunscreen if you plan to hike the trail in the morning or afternoon.
  • Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.

Frequently asked questions

Is Elephant Mountain free?

No, the hike is free for everyone. Furthermore, the park is open 24 hours a day and every day of the week.

How long does it take to hike Elephant Mountain In Taipei?

In general, the hike takes around 45 minutes to an hour.

How many steps to reach the top of Elephant Mountain?

You need to take 600 steps to reach the top of the mountain.

Are there cable cars to the Elephant Mountain viewpoints?

Unfortunately, there’s no cable car that leads to the mountain’s viewing platforms.


Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a digital nomad attorney and WanderLawyer co-founder. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.