Pingxi Crags is a wonderfully unique natural experience just outside of Taipei. The area consists of 3 beautiful peaks with man-made stairs directly up to the summits. The peaks do not require any technical ability, nor are they particularly high. But the steepness and the drop offs to either side (don’t worry there’s fencing) make for a bit of a thrilling hike. 35km from Mono’tel this journey is perfect if you have a scooter or rental car but can be accessed by 2 hours of transiting. (Directions at the bottom).
The three peaks of Pingxi Crags in order from smallest to biggest are Xiaozi Mountain (孝子山), Cimu Mountain (慈母山) and Putuo Mountain (普陀山.) When I set out to summit all three I decided I would start at the bottom and end with the highest.
About 20 minutes from the road you come to a fork in the road where going straight brings you to Cimu and going left will take you to Xiaozi. If you have a fear of heights this will be you’re first test, but as long as you watch you steps and take your time you will get up this no problem.
From the summit I had a perfect of Xiaozi I had a perfect view of Cimu, and all the stairs I was to climb next. So I headed back down to the trail intersection eager to get to my second mountain.
The stairs up to Cimu are step but before long I was rewarded for the climb and I was able to see the Mountain I just climbed (Xiaozi) and the one I was going to climb next (Putuo). On the summit I meet a nice guy from Taipei who in his broken but understandable English offered to take a picture of me and emailed it to me later that night.
I hung out on top for a few minutes, then headed back down to the intersection and followed the signs for my lest peak, Putuo Mountain. Like the other two climbs it was a pretty big incline up the man-made stairs. But because it was so beautiful and unique staying motivated wasn’t difficult at all. Once again from the summit I could see the other two mountains I climbed.
Along with the views came a couple neat Buddhist shrines at the summit. I decided this was a perfect spot for me to sit down and have a unique picnic.
After finishing up my dinner of 7-11 noodles I headed back for the road feeling even more appreciative of being able to visit such natural beauty so close to a city of 2.7 million people.
The hiking might be considered difficult by some but all 3 summits can be climbed in under 20 minutes so almost anyone can handle the challenge. If you want to get out for a couple hours, have some nice views and get some beautiful shots for Instagram this is a great day trip.
Getting to the trail takes a couple hours from Mono’tel if transiting. From Jiantan station hop on the Red Line towards Xiangshan, and transfer to the brown line at Daan (not Daan Park). From there hop on the brown line towards Taipei Zoo and get off at Muzha. From the station walk to the convenience store across the street and on that side of the road take the 795 bus. The bus comes every 40 minutes or less so ask staff at Mono’tel to tell you when it will be coming and plan accordingly.
The bus takes just under an hour to get to the Pingxi Middle School stop where you will get off (good idea to save this in google maps.) From there continue walking east for less than 5 minutes and take your first right up the road. Or continue straight if you need to grab snacks or drinks from the 7-11 in town.
Follow the road for about 10 minutes and when it ends you will see a very helpful trail map and be ready to start the hike. The trail is well signed so you shouldn’t get lost very easily.
When returning just come right back the way you came and catch the bus on the other side of the road. The bus stop does have a monitor that tells you how far away the next bus is. I forgot to check the schedule and plan ahead so I was left waiting for over an hour. But of course I just grabbed a beer from the 7-11 and relaxed by the river.
-Skye 🍁 17/7/2017