One of your first stops when you visit Keelung will probably be its amazing night market, one of the biggest attractions in the city. But if you want to burn some calories after tasting the amazing local food you have several hiking options near Keelung.
In this post we explore the beautiful Mountain Hongdan, which is at walking distance from the center of Keelung. This area is a perfect getaway from the noise of the busy city. With its 208 meters it is the highest point of Ren’ai District. Because of that, it offers many beautiful spots to overlook the Keelung area.
Once you get into the mountain forest the atmosphere changes. The silence and peace of this area is only disrupted by the sound the bamboo makes dancing in the wind. This trail is out of the beaten path and you will only encounter a handful of locals and little to no tourists.
This part of Keelung is a natural paradise where you can observe some of the amazing biodiversity Taiwan has to offer. You will see plenty of birds, big beautiful butterflies and even some lizards if you pay attention.
We are going to explore two possible trails. Both are hikes that start and end in the city. The first one is shorter and has some amazing views over the area. The other is a bit longer and explores some temples. These trails are well paved and there is no vegetation on the way so you don’t need to bring long trousers.
Option 1: The scenic route
This hike starts next to Mingchuan Junior High School, 20 minutes by foot from the night market. And it ends at the same point.
During the first 25 minutes of this trail you have to climb up some really steep steps, there are several pavilions along the way to stop and rest. After this first stage the trail becomes flat and it is easier to move around.
Once you get to the crossroads between Shinxiang Cherry Garden and Rotary tower stop and enjoy the view. Nearby you will see an old house. Behind it is the first viewpoint of this trail. Once you finish enjoying the view, you should keep walking towards the Cherry Garden.
At the end of this path there is a resident house, so be respectful. During this part of the trail enjoy the beautiful flowers next to the road. Go closer to the house to find some more stairs to get up to the top of the mountain.
It is the highest point of this hike and you can get a panoramic view of Keelung. On the way back you can stop by Rotary Tower to get a 360 view of the Keelung Area. From this point Taipei 101 is visible.
This walk should not take you longer than 1 hour and a half, depending on your condition and how many photos you want to take.
Option 2: The temple trail
This option takes a little longer but, if you are in good condition, it should not be too hard for you. It is a great option for hiking lovers who visit Keelung.
Start the same way but after getting to the peak you should head down towards Baoming Temple. Halfway between Rotary Tower and Baoming Temple you can stop to see the little Danlin Temple. It is a charming little temple surrounded by vegetation.
Right before getting to Baoming temple you will see an area with several pavilions. If you come in spring you can witness how the Matsumura (an endangered species of butterfly) lays its eggs. Two weeks after the eggs hatch the worms will look for stoney surfaces to start their metamorphosis. By the end of the season the process ends and the new born butterflies fly away.
The temple itself is also beautiful, with two stories and a big square on the front side. The area is really quiet and not very touristic, so you are probably going to be alone there. You can get some fresh water from a dispenser on the ground floor of the temple.
From the main entrance keep going down and walk towards Nanrong Road on the first crossroad. If you are tired at this point you can just keep walking to Nanrong Road and take a bus back to the center of Keelung.
The big white Buddha:
In case you decide to keep walking turn left to Foguang Cave on the second crossroad and get ready for another set of steep stairs.
If you keep walking you will stumble into one of the most beautiful, yet unknown sites of the mounain. The trail goes through Foguang cave which is also a buddhist temple. The entrance is right under a big white Buddha statue. And to me the whole walk was worth for this view.
Once you pass through the cave temple you can keep walking through the forest until you can turn left and climb back up the mountain. This part will be hard again since you have to walk up to the peak one last time. From the top you can follow the road down to the beginning of the trail.
This whole walk should take you between 2,5 and 3 hours.