Updated: Jul 26
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Welcome to The Map Room's Learn to Hike in Taiwan series!
This is the first in a series of five articles designed to take inexperienced hikers from raw novice level to ready to try their first Baiyue (台灣百岳, the top 100 mountains in Taiwan, all 3000+ meters / 10,000+ feet), all while touring around northern Taiwan. Don't worry if you don't live in this part of the world, though - you can still enjoy the pictures and get an idea of the kind of hike you should look for to take the next step in learning to be a better hiker!
Hikes in this series:
Fire Mountain (火炎山) Novice
Five Finger Mountain (五指山) Beginner
Gaotai Mountain and the Three Daotian Peaks (高台山 - 小，中，大岛田山縱走) Low intermediate
Jiali Mountain Part I: There and Back Again (加里山) Intermediate
Jiali Mountain Part II, The Hakani Mountain Loop (加里山 - 哈堪尼山縱走) High intermediate
Or, see the whole series at this link!
Don't worry if you don't live in this part of the world, you can still enjoy the pictures and get an idea of the kind of hike you should look for to take the next step in learning to be a better hiker!
Introducing this week's mountain:
Fire Mountain (火炎山)
(Updated November 30th, 2021)
Located just north of Taichung, Taiwan, just barely inside of Miaoli County, Fire Mountain (火炎山) is one of the most beautiful and unique outdoor destinations in Taiwan. If you want to explore Formosa, the Beautiful Island, but you have limited time or transportation options, it's hard to beat this as a quick and convenient outdoor travel destination. Stunning natural scenery combined with easy accessibility and a short hiking time make Fire Mountain ideal as a half day excursion, but you can certainly spend longer and never regret the extra time.
Sign at the trailhead with map and information in Chinese
The trail going up
Beyond travel, though, the relative ease of access - and of the hike itself - make this an ideal place for the inexperienced to begin getting outdoors, getting into shape, and learning how to hike starting with little or no experience.
Beautiful, easy hiking through a near-tropical forest
First view of Fire Mountain
Fire Mountain is a very, very easy hike for anyone who is basically fit. DO keep in mind, though, that this IS a hike, and not intended to be just a walk in the park, so you will get a sweat up and need to use those lungs!
While the hike offers some decent exercise, the real point of going there is to enjoy the scenery, take some pictures, mingle with locals, and try out your novice hiking skills.
Approaching the most beautiful area
This is a great place to meet locals!
Trees hang precariously off the edge of the mountain
Enjoy the views, but don't get too close to the edge!
Once you reach the point with the flames (pictured above), you have two options. For those who are there only to see the scenery, you pretty much might as well just turn back around and head down the way you came. However, for those seeking to get some exercise, or to begin honing novice hiking skills, I recommend going on forward. While the main peak itself, and the trail looping back to the entry/exit area, are not as spectacular as the Cliffs of Fire, they nonetheless make for a pleasant hike and good exercise.
The path part way to the top
The views are spectacular!
While we could have easily finished the trek in less than an hour, we spent almost two and a half hours taking in the views, taking pictures, and just enjoying being in this amazing natural wonder.
To our surprise, we found this waiting for us at the bottom of the trail.
Skill level: Novice
Length of hike: 6.5 km
Time: 2 hours 20 minutes at a leisurely pace taking pictures (if there aren't big crowds).
Water sources: None, and this is a hot and dusty trail. Definitely prepare more water than you think you need! It has also been reported that two first aid stations with heart defibrillators have been installed since our first visit there, so do take this seriously - especially in hotter weather. The low elevation and steepness can leave you pretty hot and thirsty, otherwise.
Gear and provisions: Decent hiking shoes, hiking-appropriate clothes (see remarks), a bottle of water, sun protection, and perhaps some snacks
Sun protection: Highly advisable. While there is plenty of shade along this hike, there are also many exposed areas.
Family friendly: Yes, but if you bring an infant, do it in an infant carrying backpack. Strollers won't work. Also, plan extra time, water, and rest breaks if this is you. The Map Room's friend, Renegade Writings, followed the advice in this article with his wife while carrying a 10k child on his back, and he provided some excellent perspective for families with small children. If this is you, I highly recommend you check out the article on Renegade Writings!
Dog friendly: Yes
Camping /overnighting options: Neither available nor necessary.
GPX file: Fire Mountain - The Map Room 火炎山-地圖寶庫
As dramatic and beautiful as it sounds, this is an easy hike that took us minimal effort in exchange for one of a kind scenery! Hiking shoes are, of course, recommended, but if you only have tennis shoes or running shoes, they will do in a pinch. Two of us left Hsinchu in the morning, rode down together on one scooter, hiked and took pictures, rode back, and had plenty of time for a leisurely evening dinner.
Clothes: Though you can get away with everyday clothes on this novice level hike, I don't personally recommend it. Regardless of the hike, it ALWAYS pays off to have appropriate hiking clothes! These should be clothes you don't mind getting dirty and/or messed up. Pants, shirts, socks, and underwear should all be quick wicking to get sweat off of your skin and quick drying to get it off of your clothes. For these reasons, you should NEVER wear cotton hiking! Sports pants and a sports shirt are a good place to start, but hiking pants have many advantages. A bandanna, headband, or other light cloth for wiping sweat is also advisable.
Be sure to read the next post in this series, Learn to Hike in Taiwan 2: Five Finger Mountain (五指山), and check out the whole series here!
Loved this article? Make sure to check out the whole Learn to Hike in Taiwan series here!
All information on this page is intended for reference only. Preparing adequate food, water, and gear for your adventure, as well as following local rules and laws are, of course, your own responsibility! Always make sure that you check the weather for outdoor destinations, be careful and sensible for enclosed spaces like tunnels and bunkers, and bring a lighter - you never know when it could save your life! Now... get out there and have an amazing time!
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