Trials and travails of a Taiwanese-American kid in Taiwan

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hiking near Jioufen - Part I: Keelung Mountain

Jioufen: Where the dead reside above the living.

Pretty much everyone whose visited Taiwan since the early 90s has at least heard of Jioufen (九份), that quaint little town on the hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean where Hou Hsiao-hsien's movie "City of Sadness" was filmed. If you haven't been there, you owe it to yourself to go at least once. The town is easily accessible from Taipei via train and bus (take the train to Ruefang (瑞芳) Station, cross the street and take the bus to Jioufen). The main tourist trap is the Old Street. A long narrow row of quaint shops and eateries harking back to the "good old days" of vacuum tube radios, wooden sandals, and rice with lard poured on top. Most visitors can spend an entire visit just walking the length of Old Street.

That is not where I went on this trip.

Keelung Mountain viewed from the road to Chinkuashih (金瓜石).

Keelung Mountain (雞籠山, elevation 587 m) is a rather steep hill outside of the town of Jioufen, just a bit further up the road from the town itself. Arriving at Jioufen by bus, most people will get off near the Old Street stop. Follow the road a bit further up and you'll find a white stone marker denoting the trailhead for the Keelung Mountain trail by the left side of the road.

The Keelung Mountain trailhead.

The trail consists mostly of a series of very long and steep cobblestone steps cut into the side of the hill with the occasional pavilion for climbers to rest their legs. The view, however, is tremendous.

Looking up from the bottom.
Going up...
Looking back.
May the gods have mercy on my knees.

After what seems like an eternity (or was it 20 minutes? I must be losing it), I finally reach the top... which is a bit anti-climatic. The summit is occupied by what I'm told is a repeater station for aviation radio traffic, as well as a small pavilion occupied by a bunch of middle aged men drinking some kind of herbal drink (福氣啦!).

But the view more than makes up for the climb. Having spent the last 12 months in landlocked Colorado, it's great to see the ocean again. Nothing like standing on a summit feeling the sea wind blow on your face while taking in the enormous expanse that is the ocean.

Looking towards the northwest. From the nearest inlet to the furthest: Shenao Bay (深奧灣), Wanghaihsiang Harbor (望海巷漁港), Badouzhi Harbor (八斗仔漁港), and in the distance: Hoping Island (和平島) and Keelung Harbor (基隆港).
One of the abandoned gold mining facilities in a nearby hill.
Looking east towards Chinkuashih and Bitoujiao.

The climb can be quite strenuous if you don't do this kind of thing normally but is a nice way to spend an hour or so. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Once you're done with the hike you have the rest of Jioufen and Chinkuashih to explore.

Stay tuned for more on hiking to Chinkuashih and exploring the remains of the old gold mining operation .

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David said...

Great to see you back blogging. I have never been to Jiufen, but I must go soon.

Happy New Year!!!

Hai Tien said...


Hai Tien said...

Response to previous comment by Jāzeps B. Sorry about the deletion but I wasn't sure if you wanted your email address posted.

"Hi, I am a student from Europe, studying in Chung Cheng University. I will go to Taipei tomorrow and will stay for a night there. Then I would like to do some hiking on Sunday morning and I found this post, so I would like to go to Keelung mountain. How much time is it gonna take for me to get there by train from Taipei main station and to get up?"

To get the Jioufen you have two options, bus or train. Bus is probably the least confusing as it goes straight from Taipei to Jioufen. Unfortunately, I haven't taken it myself so I all I know about it is that the stop is somewhere around the Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT Station.

To get there by train:

1) Take one of the northbound trains to 瑞芳 (Rueifang). Make sure the train is headed to the east coast, NOT Keelung City, as the two are on different lines. The train trip takes about an hour.

2) Exit Rueifang Station and cross the square to the bus stop across the street. Hail a taxi or take the bus bound to Jioufen / Jinguashi (九份 / 金瓜石). If in doubt, write your destination down on paper and show it to your fellow passengers. The bus ride to Jioufen is about 15 - 30 minutes. More information on transportation from Rueifang Station:

3) Get off at Jioufen Old Street (舊道), this should be near the top of a hill. If its a weekend, expect to see lots of tourists. I found a bus route map online, but unfortunately it is only in Chinese: .

4) To get to the Keelung Mountain (Jilong Mountain 雞籠山) trailhead, keep going up the road the bus took, the trailhead is a few hundred meters further up on the left hand side of road.

I found a map of the Jioufen area, but unfortunately its also in Chinese, hopefully it will help:

Hope that wasn't too confusing! Good luck!