HIKES IN THE KAOHSIUNG AREA:
When visitors arrive in Kaohsiung, they can't but notice the large mountain bordering the western side of the city and creating a green wall between the city and Taiwan Straits.
This green wall is a combination of both Longevity Mountain "Shou Shan" 壽山 and Chai Shan 柴山 or "Monkey Mountain" as its known to the foreign residents.
If you enjoy hiking or just need to get some fresh air, greenery, and wildlife, Shou Shan and Chai Shan are quick, easy, and convenient to find. Both mountains are busy early every morning with hikers getting a jump on the day. As the afternoon cools down, a new set of hikers will enjoy the sunset and city lights.
Chai Shan and Shou Shan are both for non-hikers and serious hikers alike. There are so many trails, it's easy to find new paths, however, for the day visitor, the main trail and wood stairs make it easy to find a way up.
Here is what you can expect on Chai Shan and Shou Shan:
Up until the late 1980's Chai Shan was actually being hacked and drilled away for its rock to be turned into cement. What remains is and abandoned cement factory, a still in-use cement mixing station, and a cement road that winds its way up the mountain.
The road up the mountain is no longer used by vehicles, but it great for hikers and even mountain bikers. Chai Shan and Shou Shou also have an abundance of dirt paths curving their ways over and around ridges.
For those who want a simple way up the mountains, the park has built a wooden stairs circuit that is safe and easy to follow. It gets steep at times, but you won't get lost if you keep to the stairs.
The stairs and trails can bring you to various destinations on the mountain. There are some rest areas and look out points where locals will relax under the trees and cook up tea and snacks. A famous destination on Chai Shan is called "Ya Zuo" 雅座。 It's about a 45 minute climb from either of the two trailheads. Ya Zuo is famous for its views of the Taiwan Straits as well as the Barley tea which is brewed all day at the top. And it's complimentary as well. (Local hikers voluntary carry up jugs of water to Ya Zuo to supply the tea maker as well as to get a great work out.)
Monkey Mountain has its nickname for the abundance of Taiwan Macaques that inhabit the area. There are so many that sometimes you can see them down at the street level. It is pretty amazing that you can be in a very urban environment one minute and then walking amonst a family of monkeys the next.
Are these monkeys safe to be around? For the most part, yes, these monkeys are harmless, however, they are getting less and less shy as more and more hikers make their way into their territory. The monkeys have become a bit more agressive as they know hikers carry food. There are many signs asking people to not feed the monkeys, but the weekend tourists either don't read them or can't help themselves. Because of this, some monkeys are sneaky and will steal your food or go into your bags the minute your head is turned. Better to not eat while they are around.
In addition, if you frightened the monkeys or feel threatened, they may come after you either in a group or individually. It's best to keep your distant, act confident, and don't make direct eye contact. If you are bitten or deeply scratched by a monkey, it is best to get to a doctor as soon as possible.
Best times to see the monkeys are mornings and late afternoons.
Snake lovers will delight in these mountains as there are an abundance of snakes slithering about. Howvever, during the day, it is very rare to see them. If you fancy a night hike, you'll be delighted and amazed at the snake life, especially the bright green, red eyed bamboo snake. Many snakes you see may be quite a nice size, but also may be harmless rat snakes. The Taiwan cobra also lives about, but they are most likely down around rivers or lakes areas.
The barking deer are short little deer about 1 meter in height. They come out at night and have a distinct barking sound. Sometimes during winter months, the barking deer can be seen foraging for food. Most of the time they are shy and timid. If you see one, get a photo!!!
Stray dogs are common on the mountains. They are harmless and mostly keep to themselves, however if you bring your own dog up the mountain, it's best to beware. The Kaoshiung City government is making attempts to control the stray dog population on Chai Shan and Shou Shan.
Chai Shan Trailhead #1 is known as the "Temple" trailhead. View the map below to see exactly where it is off Gushan Road.
Driving on Gu Shan 3rd Road, which runs along the mountain, turn into Lane 51 at the 7-11 and follow the small road past the temple to the trailhead.
The Temple trailhead of Chai Shan actually has vendors selling snacks, water, and hiking equipment!!!
The Temple trailhead of Chai Shan starts with narrow stone steps past the front doors of some houses as well as vendor stalls.
Follow the wood steps up a steep portion for a few minutes until you get to a few break off trail choices. Follow the steps all the way to the top if you want. About 1 hour.
Chai Shan Trailhead #2 is behind the Gu Shan High School is only a 5-10 minute walk from the "Temple" trailhead.
The Gushan High School Trailhead is a lot easier to get to and has ample car parking. Beware that the trail starts out steep here for about 5-10 minutes up stairs until leveling out on the old cement road.
To get there, find the other 7-11 on Gushan 3rd Road and turn into Mingde Road which runs past the front entrance of Gushan High School towards a temple. (seen below)
The trailhead is actually through a little temple where incense is burning. There is a big parking lot/visitor center next to the temple. You can start walking from there as well.
This trail starts straight up for about 10 minutes. It gets your heart racing right away.(see below)
Pictured below is the street which runs in front of the trailhead. You can park here, find the restrooms and see the temple. This is also the road that connects to the Temple Trailhead of Chai Shan.
Here are the Trailhead locations for Chaishan"Monkey Mountain" off of Gushan Road.
The hiking on Shoushan is about the same as Chaishan. Probably the difference is that Shoushan may get a few more casual visitors as they can drive up the road, park and hike or visit the zoo which is near the trailhead.
On Shoushan, you will see monkeys even before you get to the trail. There are lots of rest stations to admire the city views as well as many paths to wander around.
As you head down Gushan 2nd Road, you will see the brown signs for the zoo. That road is called Singlong Road. Turn onto it and start to drive up past the monastary.
After about 1-2 minutes, you will see a parking lot. Visitors can park their car their for an hourly fee and then walk another 5 minutes to the trailhead or 7 minutes to the zoo. If you ride a scooter or bicycle, you can park at the trailhead along the entrance road.
The trailhead is on the right side and usually lined with scooters and hikers. This is where to park your bike.
Follow the road up to the trail entrance which starts off on stone steps. There are restroom facilities before you hike.
Here is the trailhead location for Longevity Mountain "Shoushan" and the Kaohsiung City Zoo
Enjoy these great city mountains!! Be safe!