Jiufen Taiwan: 3 Amazing Day Hikes without Crowds or a Car

Teapot Mountain Trail in Jinguashi in the Ruifang District of Taiwan

If you love abundant greenery and incredible mountain views, please, do not do the Ruifang District in Taiwan as a day trip. This lush region is one of the few places I’ve visited where you can access enough trails on foot or by easy public transport to keep yourself occupied for a week, or more. And at the center of it all is Jiufen.

When you first arrive, Jiufen (also spelled Jioufen or Chiufen; pronounced jow·fuhn) can seem overwhelming. It’s Old Street clings to the mountainside and has a constant flow of tour buses. Hundreds of people are emptied every hour onto the long winding pedestrian street of shops and eateries. But take a quick side step away from the main drag, and you will be surrounded by a lush, tranquil landscape with breathtaking views. We set out on foot and spent most of our Jiufen days alone, with just a periodic hello from other hikers. I couldn’t help but wonder how such an easily accessible place could still be a hidden gem.

I’ll cover three amazing day hikes that we reached on foot from Jiufen, plus some bonus spots. But there are dozens more that you can get to via a quick bus ride from Jiufen or a short train trip from the Ruifang Station. Really, most of the region can be conquered on foot, if you’re feeling energetic. Trails wind up to every peak and meander down to the valley towns, like a giant network of nature. These are just the most accessible trails. You can jump ahead in this post with the links below.

Mount Keelung Trail leading down to Jiufen in the Ruifang District of Taiwan

Basic Information for Hiking in Jiufen Taiwan

When to Go

It rains year round in Jiufen, but February to July tends to be the dry season. The temperatures are also cooler through April, peaking at 60ºF to 70ºF. So I would peg February through April as the optimal weather for hiking in Ruifang. But I think the cooler months in general can be excellent. We actually went in late November, and enjoyed moderate temperatures. It was the peak of rainy season, but the rain only kept us in for one day. I would personally just avoid July through September. The temperature can get up around 80ºF in these warmer months, which feels even hotter when hiking in the mountains.

Where to Stay

Taipei is less than an hour away, so you can do day trips from the big city. But cutting out the commute and staying in this scenic area is worth it, in my opinion. If you want easy daily access to both the mountains and the Pingxi railway line, Ruifang is a good base. But the town itself isn’t very interesting. I highly recommend staying in Jiufen for beautiful surroundings and views. There are many rustic bed and breakfasts clinging to the mountain for an affordable price.

Getting There

This area is part of the vast New Taipei City that surrounds Taipei in Taiwan. It’s located east and slightly north of central Taipei, and is on the coast. Hourly trains run from Taipei main station to Ruifang station. They take about 35 to 50 minutes, depending on the train. The ride was less than $2 USD per person as of 2024.

Buses from Ruifang to Juifen take just 12 to 15 minutes, but allow 5 to 10 minutes to walk to the bus stop if you’re arriving at the train station. For some odd reason, none of the buses to Jiufen actually stop at the train station, but rather at the bus stops that are one stop away from the station. It was raining heavily when we arrived, so we headed to the taxi stand outside the train station. The taxis were clean, and they have a flat fee to Jiufen (just $7 USD when we were there). The drivers are highly skilled at navigating the winding road and crazy driveways in Jiufen. Plus, it was nice to avoid dealing with bags on a potentially busy bus!

Getting Around

The buses run often around Jiufen, and will take you to most sites and many hiking trails throughout the Ruifang District and beyond. They’re also surprisingly quick, and once in the mountains, they aren’t very busy. A one way ride is only around 50 cents (USD). From Ruifang, you can also take a quick and inexpensive train ride south on the Pingxi Railway line. This takes you to some of the areas mentioned below, but continues on for even more villages and hiking trails.

I’ve included a map of the area below with notes pointing to where the buses and trains travel. Most of the area shown that isn’t covered by public transportation can be accessed on foot by a series of hiking trails. I’ll cover the Ducakeng Historic Trail, which is in that area. But there are several other geoparks and historic trails in that region that you can reach if you prepare for some longer day hikes.

Jiufen and Ruifang District Quick Map to Public Transport by Train or Bus

Amazing Day Hikes in Jiufen Taiwan without Crowds or a Car

It’s an experience that’s hard to find. The ability to ride a bus, take a train, or simply walk right to gorgeous mountain trails, past waterfalls, and through little hamlets, without throngs of people. Not to mention, most of the transportation is quick and less than $1 USD. I’ll start with the trails that we have done and loved, but I will also touch on some other gems still on our list.

Mount Keelung Trail

Distance: 1.1 miles (1475 stairs) one way; 2.2 miles round trip

A visit to Jiufen isn’t complete without a hike up this nearby trail. It’s proximity to the Old Street makes it busier than most of the other hikes. But the number of stairs keeps the crowds down. In fact, Mount Keelung Trail is really just a giant staircase. I counted 1475 stone stairs, so this vertical assent isn’t for the faint of heart.  But if your knees and hips are up for it, it’s worth the effort. Looking back down the stairway trail, Jiufen looks so peaceful nestled in the green hills. And once you hit the top, you can enjoy 360 degrees of lush mountains and endless ocean.

There is an offshoot trail that winds around to the west of the staircase and skips some of the stairs. You can see an entrance to the separate trail in the photo in the carousel below with the sign post. But this trail can get muddy and a bit treacherous. The stairs offer a straight shot up. Plus, there are a few stopping points on the way up the stairway where you can sit to take a break.

Bonus Easy Hike: Just a little further up the road from the Mount Keelung Trail entrance, you’ll find the Shanjian Road Trail on the same side of the street. It’s a short but unique path.

  • Jiufen Taiwan - Mount Keelung Trail
    Mount Keelung Trail Stairs with Alternate Trail to Left

How to Walk to the Mount Keelung Trail

At the north end of the Jiufen Old Street, where you hit the 7-Eleven, head up the main road. There isn’t much of a shoulder on this two-lane road, so be careful, but there are usually other pedestrians walking. Just a 5 minute walk up the road, and you’ll come across the Mt Keelung Trail entrance on the left side. I’ve shown the route in the Google map screenshot below. You can also see where the Mt. Keelung Trail goes to on the map.

Map to walk from Jiufen Old Street to Mount Keelung Trail

Hsiaojingua Trail to Dacukeng Historic Trail

Distance: about 3 miles starting from Jiufen and ending in Houtong

The Hsiaojingua Trail starts at the north end of Jiufen, and is well-blazed, yet little known and not marked on some maps. It leads you right to the start of the Dacukeng Historic Trail, which looks prominent on some maps, but is still quite peaceful. We only came across a handful of hikers on the entire journey.

Like most Jiufen hikes, both trails have amazing views. But the Hsiaojingua Trail goes up just a bit, and takes you along the mountain for a somewhat short and relatively easy walk. About two-thirds of the way in, you’ll come across the Hsiaojingua Lou’tou (rocky outcrop) and the short path up to it. This is reportedly the first place gold was discovered in Jiufen. The Dacukeng Historic Trail runs up and down the mountainside, with lush green scenery and a random but cool concrete-style staircase along the way.

Near the bottom of the Dacukeng Historic Trail, you’ll find the shady Jinzibei Historic Trail. But if you continue past that trail entrance, and take a left when you hit the river, you’ll end up at the Houtong Cat Village. The cats are a cute diversion. Some were friendly, and one even walked right over and sat on my husband’s lap. But it really is a controlled population of stray cats, so the number and health of the cats can vary quite a bit. Just as a heads up. While there, we also stumbled onto the Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park with the coal transportation bridge and Ruisan Coal Preparation Plant. These were quite impressive and surprisingly free to visit.

Bonus Biking Option: If you’re into Taiwan’s Easy Bikeways, the Ruihou Bicycle Path starts at Ruifang Station and ends at Houtong Station. It’s a relatively flat bike-only path that runs along the Keelung River. After a visit in Houtong, you can continue on the newly opened bike path to Mudan, which passes through the old Sandiaoling Tunnel. From Ruifang Station to Mudan is about 6.8 miles one way.

  • View from the Hsiaojingua Trail near Jiufen

How to Walk to the Dacukeng Historic Trail

The bus stops at the north end of Jiufen, and there is no bus stop at the Chin Hsien Junior High School (as google shows). But the Hsiaojingua Lou’tou Trail starts just after you pass the Junior High School at the north end of Jiufen. It’s a scenic and well-blazed trail, but it isn’t labeled on many maps. So I’ve outlined it with purple dotted lines in the map below. If using Google maps, look for the Hsiaojingua Outcrop and zoom in enough to see the trail that runs directly north and then east of it. That’s the Hsiaojingu Trail.

Where the Hsiaojingua Trail ends, go left toward the road, turn right on the road, and in just a few steps, you’ll see the Dacukeng Trail entrance. I’ve included a picture of it in the photo slider above. The Dacukeng Trail will take you down to Houtong Cat Village. For an easy round trip, take the train one stop from Houtong to Ruifang and then the bus back up to Jiufen. Or you can hike the Liulang Road Sightseeing Trail from Ruifang up to Jiufen. You can alternately go in the other direction, hiking up the Dacukeng, or do an out and back hike on the Dacukeng.

The Hsiaojingua Lou'tou Trail to the Dacukeng Historic Trail Map

Teapot Mountain Trails

Distance: about 1.2 to 2 miles one way, depending on the route you take

This is a great choose your own adventure destination, since there are a few different ways you can access Teapot Mountain. Google lists this as a “challenging hike with roped sections” while other blogs list it as moderately challenging. But it can be a relatively easy uphill walk, a good workout, or somewhat challenging at the end, if you wish. At the top, we saw two young women in skirts, and one had sky high fashion boots on. They made it just fine. It’s all about your route, which I address in the directions below.

Teapot Mountain Trail provides breathtaking views of the mountainous Ruifang district and the Pacific Ocean. And at the top, you’ll find the rock “teapot.” This is where you can choose to deal with ropes, or not. It’s a bit gravely heading up to the teapot, and the ropes are there to help you get up onto and inside the teapot. Proceed with caution if you choose to check out the teapot.

Most people enjoy this as an out and back hike, choosing the same or an alternate route on the way back down. There are other hikes linking up to the Teapot Mountain Trail, but plan ahead if interested as these have more challenges.

Bonus Easy Hikes: Across from the Teapot Mountain service road, you’ll see the Baoshishan Lookout Trail. It’s relatively short but is a well built path with great views. And Jinguashi itself is littered with little paths and interesting sites, despite being very light on tourists. Weave through the pedestrian ways from the Gold Museum, to  Qitang Old Street with the colorful staircase, walk along Qitang Road, and to the Quanji Temple before you hit Qitang Road for a stroll and view of the whole town.

  • Ruins at the base of Teapot Mountain in Jinguashi

How to Get to the Teapot Mountain Trails

All of the main entrances to the Teapot Mountain Trail are in the small town of Jinguashi. You can walk from Jiufen to Jinguashi. We did. But I highly recommend just hopping on the bus. Walking takes at least a half hour, and there are only paths part of the way. Some of it is on the road, which can be quite narrow with occasional traffic. A bus ride costs less than a dollar and takes just 2 to 3 minutes.

In Jinguashi, there’s a sign outside the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum to Teapot Mountain Trail. You can access the trail that way, but you do have to pay to enter. This is worth doing if you want to visit the museum. If not, head north onto Qitang Road, which clings to the side of the mountain around the little town. There will be an entrance to the Teapot Mountain Trail that you’ll pass on your right when you are right above the Quanji Temple with the big gold statue. You can enter there or continue on to the Quan Ji Tang parking lot.

On the right side of the parking lot, you’ll see the Teapot Mountain service road, which is blocked off to cars. Near the bottom of the service road, there are some cool ruins and a large set of stairs you can head up. That’s another Teapot Mountain Trail entrance. Or you can simply walk up the service road, which takes you all the way up to the final leg of the trail. About halfway up the service road, you can hop on the Teapot Mountain Trail (basically a long stairway) to cut off a bit of distance. But you can stay on the road, which is well paved, quiet, scenic, and meanders around rather than going straight up. It’s a great option if you’re getting a bit tired of stairs.

Teapot Mountain Trail and three entrances in Jinguashi Taiwan

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  1. Oof that hike with the 1400 odd stairs sounds……terribly hard! But then can I eat as much as I want after doing that hike?

    1. Alisa Fleming says:

      That’s the rule I live by.

  2. Debbie Knowles says:

    Awesome job putting all this info together Alisa 👏. Makes me want to go!. I feel I’ve no excuse, because you have given all the info one would possibly need to navigate this beautiful experience. LMK when you write about your current trip 🫶🏻

    1. Alisa Fleming says:

      Aw, thanks Debbie! I will! It’s going well so far …

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