The Pingxi Crag’s are an exciting day-hike just outside of Taipei in the Pingxi district (平溪區) of New Taipei City. There are three peaks to climb and hiking all of them takes a few hours. The hike isn’t very long, but each peak gives you an amazing view of the surrounding area and a sense of satisfaction being at the top of a mountain. Its a highly recommended hike for anyone in Taiwan.
There are a few ways to arrive at the trailhead. You can take the train from Taipei to Rueifang train station (瑞芳車站) and switch to the Pingxi Rail line (平溪線) and take the train all the way to Pingxi Station (平溪車站.)
Or you can take the Taipei MRT to Muzha Zoo (木柵動物園捷運站) and take a bus from there directly to Pingxi.
I prefer to take the bus from Taipei as the bus will take you directly to Pingxi. If you choose the train route you may end up waiting a long time for the Pingxi train to arrive as they don’t come as frequently as they used to.
From Pingxi station you walk through the small village and across a bridge to the other side of the river. There are signs for the trailheads along the way guiding you. The trailhead markers won’t say “Pingxi Crag’s”, they will say “Xiao-Zi Shan” (孝子山登山口.)
When you reach the the first part of the trailhead you have to walk up a pretty steep paved road to get to the start of the hiking path.
At the actual trailhead there will be a map of the hiking route which will give you an approximate hiking time and the route in which you should follow. I recommend ignoring the map altogether as the amount of time needed to complete the hike isn’t anywhere near what is actually necessary.
Once you start hiking, it is actually only about a twenty minute walk up the path until you reach somewhat of a fork in the road. The path on your left leads you to the smallest, yet most exhilarating of all the Crag’s - Xiaozi Mountain (孝子山) or "Filial Son Mountain."
The other two paths are on the right and they lead to Cimu Mountain (慈母山) or "Motherly Love Mountain" and Putuo Mountain (普陀山.) which is a reference to Buddhism.
Its up to you which way you choose to go, but I decided to go from smallest to the highest which I thought would be easier. That turned out not to be the case, but if I went back again I would take the same route.
On my hike I took this route - 1. Xiaozi Mountain -> 2. Cimu Mountain -> 3. Putuo Mountain
Xiaozi Mountain (孝子山)
This mountain is probably the coolest of the three. It rises high out of the valley and isn’t very big. You climb a steep set of stairs with a rope and from there you have to do a bit of climbing around the side of the mountain until you reach a very cool looking staircase on the side of the mountain. At this point, if you are afraid of heights, its probably better to turn back as it can be a bit nerve-racking. The stairs are pretty easy to climb up and once you’re at the top you are greeting by a few Buddha statues and a 360 degree panoramic view of the forest and the village below.
If you are travelling on a weekend, there may be quite a bit of traffic trying to get to the top of Xiaozi Mountain, so you may not have a lot of time at the top as the peak can handle no more than 10 people at a time as its very narrow.
Going down the mountain can be both fun and frightening as you more or less feel a bit of vertigo while looking down. Make sure to be careful when going down. Take it slowly.
Cimu Mountain (慈母山)
This mountain is more of a ridge. You can climb it using ropes to the side which is the easy route, or you can climb the stairs on the face of the mountain on the side which is a much cooler experience. When I went there the first time, I didn’t know about the ridge path up the mountain, so I didn’t do it. I’ll definitely go back again to hike the ridge section.
At the top of the mountain you have a nice view of the other two Crag’s and its a nice place to take a break for a few minutes as there aren’t as many people on this peak as there are on Xiaozi Mountain.
Putuo Mountain (普陀山)
Of the three mountains, I find that this one was my least favourite. The hike up the mountain is pretty cool and the ridge walk is nice as well, but the peak itself is covered by trees and there isn’t much of a view. I spent the most of my time on the top of Putuo Mountain trying to take shots of bees pollinating flowers and changing lenses for the way down as I saw some Taiwanese lilies on the side of the mountain that I wanted to shoot.
At the top of Putuo Mountain, you are greeted by a small Buddhist shrine and a larger statue of the Buddhist deity Guanyin at the end of the path. As I mentioned above, there isn't much of a view and not much to shoot, so I didn’t spend much time on this peak because of that and because we were running out of light.
So it was back down the mountain and back to Pingxi.
Back in Pingxi you can have some snacks and watch some of the famous sky lanterns taking off before hopping back on the bus or the train to head home.
The Pingxi Crag’s are an easy hike as far as hiking goes, but they aren’t for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights, this hike probably isn’t for you.
If you are into making your time on earth just that much more awesome however, this hike is definitely for you and is an awesome day-hike.