Analogous to Xiang-shan Hiking Trail being close to 1O1, Jian-tan Hiking Trail is near Taipei Grand Hotel.
You can conveniently get to both hiking trails by taking MRT Tam-sui Xing-yi Line (Red Line number 2).
Grand Hotel and Yuanshan Scenic Area are right next to each other. The name Yuanshan originated from Taipei Grand Hotel in Chinese (Yuanshan Hotel). Yuanshan in Chinese means "circular mountain."
Although the hill that you hike is actually Jian-tan-shan, the area is referred to as Yuanshan Scenic Area.
After a few hours of hiking in Jian-tan Hiking Trail, getting some relaxations drinking some coffee or dining in the palace-like Grand Hotel is quite a treat!
To get to Jian-tan Hiking Trail, take the MRT Tam-sui Xing-yi Line (Red Line number 2) and get off at MRT Jian-tan Station. Take a short walk to get to the hiking trail entrance in Yuanshan Scenic Area across from the MRT station.
The main trail entrance is at the center of the sidewalk; there are other nearby entrances situated either direction from the main entrance that can lead you to the trail as well.
Some say during the Taipei Lake Age, Yuanshan Scenic Area was an island surrounded by lakes.
The Native Taiwanese resided on the hill above. Some archaeologists actually discovered shell mounds on Jian-tan-shan, which were formed by the shells left over from meals eaten by the Native Taiwanese 3000 years ago.
Legend of a Chinese Fortune Study has it that the Taipei Grand Hotel location is a Dragon's Lair, where a true descendant of dragon will be born.
The fact remains that this location used to be a Shinto Shrine. Zhongshan North Road ahead was an Omotesando, reaching all the way to Bei-man District and connecting to the most bustling areas back in the days, Da-dao-cheng and Di-hua Street.
Yuanshan Scenic Area
The atmosphere here is best described as the contrast and harmony between the past and present, guard posts and leisure hiking, the powers and commons, and war and peace.
Once you enter Jian-tan Hiking Trail, the hill you are hiking is Jian-tan-shan. There are numerous bunkers along the way.
There are even traces of heavily guarded military posts on the ridge. It makes you wonder why any military tracks would appear in Yuanshan Scenic Area.
This place was in fact a secret command post; there are a secret tunnel and bunker beneath the back of the hill; during the time of war back in the days, this was the secret hideout for the president.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, situated north and south sides of the hill are where each of the two former presidents resided.
Besides bunkers, there are many well-maintained gardens that you'll see while walking along Jian-tan Hiking Trail in Yuanshan Scenic Area.
The trail is a favorite place for many local citizens to spend their leisure time and do morning exercises. People frequently come here to play badminton, sing karaoke and make tea.
After you reach the antenna used by Radio Taiwan International, there is a scenic overlook. Continuing walking downhill, you'll see the former military restricted area.
Although the place is no longer a military restricted zone, most barracks and posts are left intact. All the barracks and posts were initially in their concrete color.
Due to the ever-increasing number of tourists, the city government decided to paint the first post and barrack in camouflage to give them a modern appearance and perhaps even some military cool factor!
Continuing going uphill, you'll see a new post every tens of meters or so. The posts have serial numbers. There used to be almost 20 posts; some of them got taken down, and we only found 8 of them.
This section of the trail was accessible only to the president's security entourage. The stairs were made of simple cement blocks, making them quite narrow and confined.
The cement blocks were moved aside eventually, and the entire walkway was re-paved with concrete, making it broader and easier to walk through.
You can regularly see people hiking with their kids. What a transformation this is from a secret military sector into a nice hiking trail suitable for the family!
Continuing going forward, you can stay around for a bit near post number 5 or 6. To the north ahead lies the Shih-lin Presidential Compound beneath.
This was the official residence of former president Chiang Kai-shek.
Keep going forward and you'll come to an explanation board for Taipei City. Right ahead and below is an area with an artificial lake. This is the old Qi-hai Presidential Compound location.
Another former president Chiang Ching-kuo resided here.
Interestingly, the father-son presidents resided on two sides of the mountain ridge. No wonder this sector used to be guarded like a fortress. After they passed away, this part of the trail became open to the public.
Due to the fact that a long walk from the trail entrance is needed, and the story of this former restricted zone isn't widely publicized, not many people know about the historical context of this place.
Continuing walking forward, you'll come to a place called Old Place. There is a large rock with "Lao-Di-Fant" in Chinese inscribed in red and the shape of Taiwan inscribed in white.
Lao-Di-Fant in Chinese means "old place." It used to be a leisure pavilion, but the pavilion was taken down in order to build a lookout. You can see planes taking off and landing in Songshan Airport from here.
「老地方」英文是old place。原本是個休閒的涼亭， 後來為了建了觀景台涼亭被拆了。你可以從這裡看松山機場的飛機起降。
Although Jian-tan Hiking Trail was restored by the city government, it isn't quite as refined as Xiang-shan Hiking Trail. All the military facilities are gone.
On your way downhill, there is an inconspicuous and small path that will take you to Ming-chuan University. You'll still be able to see the old patrol path paved with cement blocks there.