Teapot Mountain: a nice hike to add to your day in Jiu Fen

Teapot mountain is a cute name for an enjoyable ocean side hike located a short ride from Jiu Fen's old street. The hike gets its name from the view of the rock outcropping at the summit of the trail which looks like a teapot without its handle. From start to finish you'll need to budget between two and three hours of your day to get it done, less if you're an avid hiker and decide not to climb your way around to higher peaks nearby. It's a more forgiving journey than the one up nearby Mt. Keelung, and while the view from the top isn't quite as epic on a beautiful day it has more character and far fewer people.

From Taipei take bus 1062 from ZhongXiao FuXing MRT which is labeled Jin Gua Shi. The pick up point changes fairly often so check the station map to confirm you get to the right spot. You can also take bus 788 from Keelung, and if you're out at Rui Fang station there are two buses serving the mountain from there.

The bus route to/from Taipei.

A note of caution. Jiu Fen is a massive tourist draw and is one of a select few parts of Taiwan which has touts on hand. Drivers will wait around the bus stops in Taipei and Keelung and try to tell you the bus just left, there aren't any buses, or other nonsense. The bus from Taipei is 110 NT to the end of the line, and it should be 95 to the old street. The ride takes about an hour and a half. If you opt for a private ride you'll pay at least double the bus price each way and get there about five minutes faster.

Once you get up to Jiu Fen, you're able to get out and see the old street first, or take it in on your way back. To do this hike you'll get off at the gold museum station about five minutes down the road from the old street. After getting off, make your way to into the compound of Japanese era buildings set into the mountain which follows a brick trail outside some repaired miner's dorms. There have been a ton of improvements to make the museum into a more visitor friendly place, but just taking a look at the free displays and walking the compound should be enough. You can't get deep into the old mines no matter how much you pay, so keep your cash for the tourist streets.

The main entrance to Jin Gua Shi.

A mining cart, with gold!

You'll slowly climb upward as you pass through the compound, and the first signs to follow are those towards the Shinto shrine. It was built by the Japanese and lies just above the mining encampment its its tori is visible from below. The trail up is about 600 meters and is worth a look if you've got the time. The old mining village is really picturesque and it's not a wonder that it's finally become a tourist attraction in its own right.

Mail some postcards or enjoy some nature.

Most of the structures were first built by the Japanese.

Up and up, and a right at the top of these stairs.

You'll keep moving upwards and eventually you'll come upon an old set of mining tracks. There are some carts available for you to take photos in and even push back and forth along the old rails. The carts end at a massive set of old mining equipment and a pay-to-enter simulation of the old mine. The equipment is free and awesome to see, and the outside of the simulation building has a very cool copper filtering system model. The buildings here house the exhibits that are worth skipping unless you're a mining enthusiast.

Original cart tracks.

Picture friendly carts you can push!

Hundred year old machines.

There's a little V shaped cut in the mountain just past these last few buildings which has a little bridge over a small waterfall/stream to a walkway on the other side. At the end of the bridge you'll have the first access to teapot mountain through a set of lockable steel doors. The trail is seasonal at best, but it's quite pretty when open and follows the river up to where it rejoins the main trail on the paved road to teapot mountain. 

See that red dot next to the V? That'll be you just before you start hiking.

That wooden bridge leads to the temple, and the trails.

The seasonal trail at the end of the bridge. The gates were open, but the trail was closed.

If that trail is closed, or you want to see more of the natural beauty of the area, keep walking along the brick path until you come to a set of stairs set back from the road. They are right behind a massive golden statue on top of a temple, and on a clear day it's a landmark that can't be missed.

It was too foggy. This guy is usually visible from the gold museum.

Clearly marked trail head for the hike.

The ascent is predominantly steps of moderately even grade no matter which fork of the trail you start you hike from. The trail crosses a zig-zagging road twice, which breaks up the monotony of just powering up the stairs and affords some beautiful views. There are a few small areas where the trail breaks down into a small dirt path, so don't worry that you've gone astray.

The first steps up at the temple entrance.

As you ascend you'll be treated to better and better views of the coastline, Keelung mountain, and nearby Jiu Fen. The ocean water directly below this trail looks dirty, but in reality is mineral deposits getting washed off the shore. The abundance of deposits helps explain why the area was so heavily mined by the Japanese.

You'll need to follow the road to the left once you get to the pavilion at the top of the stairs where you reach the road for the second time. The road will end with an overlook and another set of stone steps on your right with a marked sign for teapot mountain. Head up these steps and make your way up to the top. Theres areas which are just rock filled grass so be careful if you're not wearing hard bottomed shoes.

You'll come up those stairs on the right. Follow the road to the next set of steps.

On the most recent visit here there was a new, angry looking red sign telling hikers the are not allowed to enter the teapot because it is too dangerous. The pot was always a favorite place to scamper over some rocks and afforded some really unique views of the nearby mountains. The ropes through the pot are still there, but the lowest portion of them has been cut off. The existing ropes are still easily reachable, but this blog is not condoning climbing into the pot against the clearly written sign's warnings.

Angry looking do not enter sign.

The way down can be done in one go and can take even novice hikers only 20 to 30 minutes. If you're heading to Jiu Fen old street or Taipei, you'll want to follow the signs at the bottom of the stairs towards the temple which is downhill and slightly to your right. You'll end up just next to the main pavilion of the temple, which you cross and head into a parking lot. There are bathrooms here just past the temple on the right, and a few stores will sell water or snacks if the weather is nice.

Marker for the stairs down to the temple.

The stairs lead down on the left side of this photo.

Buses leave for Keelung leave from the entrance to the gold mining museum, which you access by taking a left at the bottom of the trail and then walking back down and through the gold museum. It's possible but a bit dangerous to walk past the temple, the bus stop, and then walk on the road back to museum. Alternatively, take the bus back to the Jiu Fen old street and change buses there.

One word of caution about the buses at the temple. There are times you'll have to pick between a few different buses all marked for the same route. As part of their schedule drivers get a rest period at this temple and the first bus in line is not always the bus which will depart next. The customer service at this stop is poor at best, notably the complete lack of logical bus departures or communication from drivers. Passengers can often be seen chasing the bus as it leaves, shouting for it to stop. If you have to wait outside a bus, make sure you're somewhere that any passing bus has to see you before it disappears, and enthusiastically wave them down. Just say Jiu Fen (15$) or Taipei(110$). If it's bus 1062, and it's leaving, you want to be on it.