Updated: Apr 20
Welcome to The Map Room's Learn to Hike in Taiwan series!
This is the second 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:
Five Finger Mountain (五指山)
Skill level: Beginner
Length of hike: 6.3 km IF you take in the sixth, extra peak (see remarks).
Time: Though we took over 5 hours, we were also going at a very beginner level, relaxed pace - and we took in an extra, sixth peak (below) in the process.
Water sources: None
Gear and provisions: Decent hiking shoes, hiking-appropriate clothes (see remarks), a bottle of water, a lighter (always!), a headlamp or flashlight (in case it takes longer than expected), snacks or perhaps a light lunch. We also found hiking poles useful, though not essential.
Sun protection: Not generally necessary on this well-shaded, forested hike.
Family friendly: Yes, but not for the exact route outlined in this article. There are many possible route combinations to walk or hike here. If you bring an infant, do it in an infant carrying backpack, and be ready not to complete all of the trails. Strollers won't work.
Dog friendly: Yes, but not advisable if you go on the more rugged sections (below).
Camping /overnighting options: Though not at all necessary, there is a nice campground just below the little finger peak.
QR code for my (longer) route:
QR code for John's (shorter) route:
Five Finger Mountain (五指山), though a genuine hike and definitely a step up from Fire Mountain (火炎山), is still easily accessible, enjoyable, and relatively low demand for relatively high reward. It is well suited for beginner hikers who want to spend the better part of a day hiking and enjoying the foothills of Taiwan's mountains. Some paths are more rugged, and some stair sections are in need of repair, but overall it should be manageable for anyone who is basically fit.
As the name implies, Five Finger Mountain is known for its five principle peaks, each named for one of the fingers on your hand. There is also a sixth peak to the southwest (see remarks), with a much more rugged trail, for those who want a more serious - though still quite manageable - hiking option. There is apparently also a seventh peak to the northeast, but I have not hiked it.
Five Finger Mountain is a reasonably easy hike for those who are fit and healthy. While there is plenty of up and down, including lots of stairs - some of which are rough, and in need of repair - regular runners/bikers/etc will most likely work up a light, comfortable sweat but not feel overly exerted. Trail running is a good option here, especially on the less rugged sections that make up the main hiking trails.
There's also an amazing, if short, section with a deep, beautiful slot between two massive rock slabs, framing a ribbon of sky high above you (Hou Dong Budao Yixian Tian, 猴洞步道一線天 Monkey Cave Trail Celestial Line of Sky). It's not to be missed! (Google Maps link with pics)
Route notes: The route we took included a downhill section with some scrambling, as well as the sixth peak (Da'Ai Mountain, 大隘山, literally 'Big Narrow Pass Mountain'), the farthest to the southeast. Both of these are highly inadvisable with a baby or dog, or without appropriate shoes or clothes (below). It is more serious footing than the rest of the trail.
Clothes: 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 3: Gaotai Mountain and the Three Daotian Peaks (高台山 - 小，中，大岛田山縱走)! Missed the previous installment? Check out Learn to Hike in Taiwan 1: Fire Mountain (火炎山). Read the whole series here!
Five Finger Mountain (五指山): From a distance, you can see where it gets the name!
Hiking here can be like walking through an exotic garden
The route is somewhat rugged, but not too challenging for beginners
This marker simply reads, 山 (mountain)
The path approaching the third (middle) finger peak
A banana grove
The Five Finger Mountain campsite (GPS link), just below the fifth (little) finger. This would be a nice place to spend a night after a pleasant and easy hike! It's a good place to test your camping skills before heading out for more serious hikes.