Welcome to The Map Room's Learn to Hike in Taiwan series!
This is the fifth, and final, 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!
View of Jiali Mountain / Jialishan (加里山) from the Unnamed Peak
Introducing this week's mountain:
Jiali Mountain Part II: The Jiali Mountain - Hakani Mountain Loop (加里山 - 哈堪尼山縱走)
Skill level: High intermediate
Length of hike: 9.5 km
MY Time: Track time, 5:38 for the whole loop. Anecdotally, I believe I average around 6 hours. 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 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 part of the hike (and perhaps just the whole thing, to save trouble).
Once you rejoin the river in the valley between the Jiali (2220 m / 7284 ft) and Hakani (1991 m / 6532 ft) peaks, you can filter and drink the water from a fast-moving part of the stream, no problem. It is likely to be cleaner, as this is deeper in the mountains and less trafficed. NEVER drink water from slow moving or still sources without treating it first, as fast moving water is cleaner and kills various nasty little creatures that could otherwise make you sick.
Even if you don't see water in the 'dry' riverbed, just walk upstream a couple minutes. Even when Taiwan's historic 2021 drought was literally making world news, I have always found pelnty of water here.
Gear and provisions: Good hiking shoes, hiking-appropriate clothes (see remarks), enough water (see above), a lighter (always!), a headlamp or flashlight, lunch and snacks. Hiking poles highly recommended.
Sun protection: Not generally necessary on this well-shaded, forested hike, but useful at points - particularly on and near the peak.
Family friendly: Yes for teenagers 15 or older in good physical condition (this will likely be strenuous for them). Adults in less than good physical condition will find this hike strenuous as well.
Dog friendly: Absolutely not!
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
One of my favorite wild campsites in Taiwan (details below)
QR code for the route:
"This hike demands that you be in good physical condition! You don't have to be a world class athlete, or even have experience with multi-day hiking, but if you do it will definitely help you out.
What's the same as Jiali Mountain Part I: There and Back Again (加里山) (skip this if you've read the article):
Located in Miaoli's Nanzhuang County, Jiali Mountain (2220 meters / 7283 feet) is arguably one of the best hikes in northwestern 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 meanthat the first section of this trail is both well suited for intermediate level hikers and a worthwhile day hike for the more experienced.
People will tell you to go up Hakani first, then down Jiali. Don't! No matter what they say, just don't! Go up Jiali and come down the other side - it's much easier and more enjoyable!
Once on Jiali Mountain peak, check your map very carefully. Though the first section is a challenge for an intermediate hiker, and a nice excursion for advanced hikers, the full Jiali-Hakani loop is far more demanding. Three trails converge at the peak, including the one you just came up.
Sign pointing towards the incorrect trail from Jiali peak
If you see this, you're going the wrong way!
From there, the INCORRECT, but more obvious, trail (above) leads through bushes and small arrow bamboo to the southwest / to the right / in the direction of the coast (visible from the peak on a clear day). The CORRECT trail (below) leads immediately over the edge of a cliff with lots of ropes to the southeast / to the left / in the direction of the Central Mountain Range (also visible from the peak on a clear day).
Rope section down the correct trail to Hakani Mountain from Jiali peak
After this, there are several more rope and cliff sections, plenty of arrow bamboo on an up-and-down ridgeline.