Yangmingshan National Park is one of eight national parks in Taiwan, and the only one located within the boundaries of Taipei City. I am sure that it is also likely the most visited park because of its location.However, Yangmingshan National Park has rainfall that averages 40 inches per year, with at least 190 rainy days a year. So although you can visit it often, there are not that many weekend days when you can go there in nice weather!
I have gone to Yangmingshan five times in the last five years, twice in the spring, once in the winter, and twice in the fall. It has been pouring rain, misty and drizzly, pouring rain, cloudy and threatening to rain, and pouring rain all of those times. Frankly, Yangmingshan had not left a very good impression on me, and I wondered why anyone liked this park.
But I guess I had not given up on it yet. I had been checking the weather forecast, and saw that Saturday had a 0% chance of rain. So I suggested to Jeff that we go to hike in Yangmingshan, because there was supposed to be a 0% chance that we would get wet! He agreed, and quickly discovered that it was fairly easy to get to the park from our apartment. It was just a five minute walk down to the Neihu subway stop, where we got on bus 861 which dropped us off at the visitor center just 50 minutes later. So it took us less than an hour to get to the visitor center in Yangmingshan National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to hike up Mount Qixing, on the southwestern trail that begins just outside of the visitor center.
Yangmingshan National Park is famous for its spring flower blossoms, hot springs, sulfur deposits, fumaroles, and hiking trails. It also contains Taiwan’s tallest inactive volcano, Mount Qixing or Seven Star Mountain. Yangmingshan National Park is at a lower elevation than the high mountain national parks in Taiwan.. Even though mountain elevations here range from only 200–1120 meters (656-3675 feet), there are beautiful landscapes with ridges, valleys, and basins. And we could see and appreciate the beautiful views, because it was a clear day!
With the influence of the northeast monsoon that hit Taiwan every year, and the area’s micro-climates, winter temperatures are much lower than the surrounding areas. This allows different vegetation to grow than in other regions at the same latitude. Some medium and high altitude plants can be found here. Vegetation groups in the park can be divided into subtropical monsoon rain forests, temperate evergreen broad leaf forests and mountain ridge grasslands.
I appreciated all the trees that were shading our path as we climbed. It was warm and sunny, so the shade kept us cooler.
Silver grass is very hardy, and often grows on terrain that is too forbidding for other plants. It is one of the most common types of grassy plant in Taiwan, and blooms in October and November, with sliver tassels. The silver grass in Yangmingshan National Park varies in appearance according to the different places in which it grows.
In many areas, there is just a thin layer of loose soil. Only a small number of plants such as lichen and mosses, can grow there.
On slopes which are swathed in warm volcanic mist, however, only silver grass can grow, forming extensive silver grass grasslands.
Here the silver grass is much shorter stemmed than elsewhere, and the tassel is red rather than white. Each year in October and November, parts of Yangmingshan are carpeted in red-tasseled silver grass in full bloom.
The view from the top of Mount Qixing was great!
We took the northeastern trail down the mountain. It on the monsoon facing side, so it was mostly silver grassland, with few trees. No shade, so I was glad to be going down.
The northeastern trail is one of the most famous trails in the park, because of all of the volcanic activity that you can see along the trail. We passed fumaroles and steam vents surrounded by silver grass.
Sulfur was also present near many of the vent holes.
There was also a photo shoot taking place along this part of the trail. A model in heavy makeup and clothes that you would never go hiking in was posing in front of a volcanic area. She definitely looked out-of-place.
At the base of this trail, near the second visitor center, was a huge area of volcanic activity.
Basically, it looked like the whole side of the mountain was gone!
It took Jeff a long time to get a photo of this cute little bubbler, as people kept walking along the trail and casting their shadows on it.
I was glad to see a shed holding equipment to monitor volcanic activity located not far from the little bubbler. Clearly, this is still an active volcanic area!
It was a beautiful day and a great hike! NO rain!!!