Hiking Elephant Mountain in Taipei

Sunset would take place in less than an hour. I had to head east and climb. I knew where the mountain was, but not where the trail began. I set off with no snacks, no water, and only a vague sense of direction.

elephant mountain hill warning sign

This is the path that greeted me. I was following two chatty women who had never even heard of my destination, Elephant Mountain (象山).  As we climbed up the 40 degree incline, they bounced off of each other must-see places for my two-months here.

We soon arrived at a childrens’ playground. By then cell phone service was gone; Mr. Gopher and his map were all I could depend on to find my direction.

elephant mountain village map

As my friends headed elsewhere to visit family, they pointed me in the direction of a view spot. That direction was upwards. The incline got rough before mellowing out into a bamboo forest.

elephant mountain steep stairs

elephant mountain stairs with bamboo

Each time I saw a person walking or practicing Tai Chi in a pagoda, I would confirm that I was headed towards the correct mountain. The hike was supposed to last only 30 minutes; after 40 minutes of climbing , I caught a view of Taipei 101 (the world’s fourth tallest tower) in the distance.
elephant mountain taipei 101 in distance

My thirst was quickly increasing and sunset was rapidly approaching. TripAdvisor comments said the path was ‘well-lit’ and I continued to wonder what path reviewers were talking about.elephant mountain stairs sunset approaching

Finally, I made it. A sign pointed towards a ‘photographers spot’ and I increased my pace. When I arrived I was a bit disappointed to see that the spot was completely full of people taking time lapses of the sunset. Not to mention it actually was a pretty overcast day.
elephant mountain people with cameras and tripods

However, after adjusting my settings and lowering the highlights in Lightroom, I was actually able to get some decent photos.elephant mountain taipei 101 city view

Okay I’ll admit it: I got lost. What was supposed to be a simple thirty minute hike took me well over an hour and a half. I walked through neighborhoods, temples, and near closed coffee shops. I decended and ascended; I had no clue where to go at points and there was nobody to ask. But by golly, I made it.

And actually, my favorite photo wasn’t taken from the photography spot, but rather during the hike along the way.

elephant mountain taipei 101 photo

Oh, and the hike back down was 30 minutes as advertised 🙂