Updated: Oct 29
*Please note that The Map Room participates in the Amazon Associate Program, and other affiliate programs, and may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
Welcome to The Map Room's Learn to Hike in Taiwan series!
This is the fourth 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:
Jiali Mountain Part I: There and Back Again (加里山)
Located in Miaoli's Nanzhuang County, Jiali Mountain (2220 meters / 7283 feet) is arguably one of the best hikes in northeastern Taiwan that does not require a permit. Relatively easy access by car or scooter, beautiful pine forests, giant, mossy boulders, abandoned Japanese era small gauge rail lines, views of the Taiwan Strait to the west and the Central Mountain Range to the east, and a significantly more demanding uphill section than Gaotai Mountain and the three Daotian Peaks mean this trail is both well suited for intermediate level hikers and a worthwhile day hike for the more experienced.
Sunlight floods the mossy pine forest at the beginning of the Jiali Mountain hike
Though this is a nice, beautiful hike up a broad, well-maintained and, at some points, somewhat manicured trail (and therefore not too much of a challenge for a serious hiker), the scenery still makes it a wonderful destination, and it will definitely get your heart pumping! It took me 3 hours 12 minutes up once, and 4:23 in total another time (remember that I'm a fast hiker). Planning 6 hours or a full day for it and enjoying yourself might be advisable!
There are plenty of rest areas on the way up the mountain
We saw this new sign at the village below
Turn left when you get here
Hiking in Taiwan has gotten more and more popular in recent years!
The main parking area just before the trailhead
The trailhead is just past the parking lot at the paid camping area. You immediately enter into one of the most beautiful pine forest hikes in northern Taiwan!
Follow the signs for Jiali Mountain (加里山) to the right / downhill. Make sure not to follow the signs for Hakani Mountain (哈堪尼山) to the left / uphill!
Soon you will reach the bottom of the path and cross a stream before continuing uphill.
This area can get misty and foggy at times, but that just adds to the mystique!
Next, it's a long section of uphill through beautiful, forested scenery.
Once you see the old narrow gauge tracks, watch ahead on the left for the cabin.
There is a very nice little cabin here. Most people don't stay the night, but it's a fun option!
The cabin is well constructed, well maintained, clean, and really quite nice.
Please respect the area and don't smoke in the cabin!
See if you can find this in the ground near Jiali Mountain Cabin! ;^)
Once you reach the cabin, you will see an intersection. Be sure to turn left / uphill past the cabin. Do not follow the trail to Daping Trailhead!
The railway continues in the wrong direction towards the Daping Trailhead.
Daping is also called Erping on this sign. Be sure not to go this way!
Follow the steps up the mountain towards the peak.
From here on, it's a lot steeper...
...but the scenery is worth it!
Heading uphill from Jiali Mountain Cabin towards the peak
There are two other trails down from the trailhead. One goes towards another exit, and the other continues on the loop past Hakani Mountain and back to the parking area. That, however, is a much more challenging and difficult hike and is covered in the final post in this series.
IMPORTANT: Watch closely for this area! Not only does it mark the transition to the last, steepest uphill section towards the peak, but there is an important crossroads just above it. You will need to note it for when you come back down.
Just above the bridge you will come to this crossroads. It's easy to walk past when hiking up and not even notice the other trail coming in, but make sure to turn around and get a good look for when you come back down.
When coming back down the mountain, make sure to take the right towards Luchang (鹿場) at this intersection - otherwise, you'll end up coming down the wrong side of the mountain! If you don't see the bridge again within 2-3 minutes, you have almost certainly gone the wrong way.
After the bridge section, it's uphill the rest of the way. It can be tiring if you're not in good shape, but we had a lot of fun climbing the ropes, scrambling up rock faces, and taking in the amazing views.
We had a view of a sea of clouds to the west on our visit, though you can often see all the way out over the coastal cities and the Taiwan Strait.
Hiking Jiali Mountain is definitely an adventure!
It's not much further once you reach this stretch.
First view of the peak!
We had amazing views east / inland towards the central mountain range.
It's always a great feeling the first time you get up here!
Even up here you can find remnants of the Japanese period!
We saw these on the peak. No matter how many times I come here, there's always something new!
Skill level: Intermediate
Length of hike: 7 km
MY Time: 4:23 up and back. IMPORTANT: I am very fast, and I was moving fast. I advise leaving early in the morning, dedicating the day for it, coming back in the evening, and having a head lamp just in case. You may possibly end up with extra time on the end, but that's a good thing.
Water sources: You can get water from the creek on the way in, but it should be filtered and boiled or treated due to the high volume of hiking traffic in the area. Honestly, you're much better off just bringing your own water on this hike.
The Map Room personally uses and highly recommends the Sawyer Squeeze water filter (NOT the Sawyer Squeeze Mini - Amazon affiliate link*)
Gear and provisions: Good hiking shoes, hiking-appropriate clothes (see remarks), enough water (see remarks), a lighter (always!), a headlamp or flashlight, lunch and snacks. Hiking poles recommended.
The Map Room recommends Fenix headlamps, and personally uses the 1600 lumen Fenix HM70R Headlamp - (Amazon affiliate link*)
Sun protection: Not generally necessary on this well-shaded, forested hike, but useful at points - particularly on and near the peak.
Family friendly: Yes. One of The Map Room's team members has hiked this mountain with children as young as 5 or 6. His family regularly spends time outside, though, and this will likely be strenuous for them, so use your best judgement. Adults in less than good physical condition will find this hike strenuous as well.
Dog friendly: Somehow, dogs have gotten up this mountain (as in the video above)! There are some very tricky sections near the top, so use your best judgement.
Camping /overnighting options: There are several overnight options for Jiali Mountain. The most useful are:
Several pay campsites, including one right at the trailhead
One small, but free, unfurnished cabin just before the major uphill of the hike
GPX file: Jialishan (Jiali Mountain) 1 - Hakani Mountain Loop Hike - The Map Room 加里山-哈堪尼山縱走 - 地圖寶庫
Parking: I had to pay the owners of the pay campsite 元30 (roughly $1 USD) to park my scooter at the trailhead. Since the Pandemic, car parking has been harder and harder to find (and the hike busier and busier), see pictures above.
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.
Water: For this hike, I personally drink 1.5-2 liters per day in winter, 2+ in summer, but I drink a lot of water and you may drink less than me. It's better to have extra than too little, though!
Route notes: Once you hit the very obvious, old Japanese narrow gauge railroad running through the pine forest, follow the trail right. Watch carefully for the turn uphill at the equally obvious cabin just ahead on the left. While you probably won't miss it, if you do, you might end up following the railway towards a completely different trailhead.
Be sure to check out the next post in this series, Jiali Mountain Part II, The Hakani Mountain Loop (加里山 - 哈堪尼山縱走)! Missed the previous installment? Check out Learn to Hike in Taiwan 3: Gaotai Mountain and the Three Daotian Peaks (高台山 - 小，中，大岛田山縱走). Read 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!
Click the link above to get 20% off a year-long, premium Gaia GPS subscription! The Map Room has an affiliate arrangement with Gaia and will receive a commission if you do... but we ONLY recommend products that we have tested, used, and loved in the field ourselves! We stand strongly by our affiliates because, at the end of the day, they help get us safely to the end of the day.
Hi! You love the outdoors and so do we! Please help support The Map Room so we can keep helping you do what we love to do!
*Please note that The Map Room participates in the Amazon Associate Program, and other affiliate programs. Some of the links on The Map Room may refer to Amazon or our other affiliates, and as a member of these, The Map Room will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. We ONLY endorse products we ourselves use, have used, or would use personally!