Summiting Taiwan’s Highest Peak in a Single Day

When you’re pressed for time, but still want to do a high mountain hike or just when getting a multi day permit for Jade mountain is difficult, there is an option to hike up there in a single day. We could not get hold of  a two day permit for Jade mountain during the weekend; chances are quite slim as you need to join the lottery. But, as Johan Cruijf would have said, “Elk nadeel heb een voordeel”, which translates to “every disadvantage has its advantage”, so when we found out it is easier to get a day permit, together with Anouk we saw a nice challenge to test ourselves.

After a short night sleep at the parking lot we started our adventure in the hush of the night at 2.30 am with a mix of nervous anticipation and enthusiasm. We geared up to conquer Taiwan’s highest peak, Jade mountain (Yushan), in a single day, a feat that typically takes most hikers two or even three days to accomplish. We knew we were in for a challenging hike of 28 kilometers with an elevation gain of 1,800 meters, a test not for the faint of heart. We expected the full hike to take 12-14 hours, hence the early start.

As we headed into the darkness the stars were shining brightly and the surroundings were only illuminated by our headlamps. It was very quiet and peaceful, only a few other hikers were on the trail and we swiftly settled into a rhythm. As the dawn slowly started to brighten the sky, the colors changed from hues of purple, pink, to orange and the forest around us came alive. Giant trees stood tall against the backdrop of the colorful sky and  as we continued our ascent, the sun gradually revealed the path in front of us. Soon we reached Paiyun Lodge just an hour after sunrise (around 7 am). We were making really good time, having started around 2500m and gaining around 1000m already in 10 kilometers.

This is a refuge that can accommodate up to a 100 hikers and serves as a basecamp for most hikers attempting the summit. After a brief rest and a much needed snack of Anouk’s great trail mix – a tasty mix of nuts and M&Ms – but we got cold quickly and pressed on. Now the sun was out and after walking through the forest for another 20 minutes the path transformed into a zigzagging, steep trail and traverses the exposed rocks with the summit visible in the distance. The final stretch was an exciting ascent through exposed rocks, growing steeper as the wind picked up. Passing an iron walkway shielding us from falling rocks, we knew the summit was within our reach. From here you scramble your way up along iron ropes and small pathways and then…you suddenly can see all of Taiwan!

We were lucky that the clouds were still in the distance and we had a good view over all the surrounding mountain peaks. After taking in the amazing scenery, we found a sheltered spot and enjoyed the sunshine and all the happy faces of people arriving at the highest point in Taiwan. When the clouds started to roll in we realized that we had to get on the move again; it was still a long way back. But fortunately going down is a lot easier and faster! Before we knew it we were back at the Paiyun lodge and enjoyed another round of snacks before continuing the trail. While chatting and admiring our surroundings, we passed the trail quickly. We were surprised by how much we had walked in the dark, and even though it was the same trail we did this morning, it felt like an entire new route.

After around 12 hours of hiking we arrived back at the parking lot, a little tired, very happy and surprised with how smoothly everything went! It is actually a very gradual hike, and the nerves before were not necessary. As long as you take your time, have good fitness and bring enough snacks, it is a very doable hike in one day. Not having to carry any extra sleeping gear also makes the hike much easier.


Yushan (Jade Mountain) is a very popular destination. Obtaining a permit can be challenging, especially for the two-day hike with an overnight stay at the Paiyun Lodge, due to limited space. For the one-day hike it is way easier to get a permit. Permits can be obtained through the Yushan National Park website: apply for park permit

The night before your ascent, consider reserving a bed at the nearby Dongpu Lodge. However, we opted to (illegally) pitch our tent at the Shangdongpu Parking Lot (上東埔停車場) where many fellow campers slept in RVs, since it will be a short night anyways if you go for the one day option (there is a toilet building).

Yushan can be climbed throughout the year. However, the snow season starts from January 2nd to March 31st. During this period, obtaining permits becomes more difficult as additional equipment and snow expertise are required. During summer it is way warmer but in the afternoon there is a higher risk of showers and thunderstorms or summer typhoons can cause issues. Probably the best time is during autumn months, when the weather is more stable.

From Taipei it is about 5-6 hours driving to the trailhead. There are ways to get to the trailhead by public transport, for example by taking the bus from Chaiyi or Alishan, but the options are limited. From the parking lot our schedule was roughly:

  • 02.30 Depart Shangdongpu carpark towards Yushan trailhead (3.5 km)
  • 03.30 Yushan trail head at 2560M towards Paiyun Lodge (8.5 km)
  • 07.00 Paiyun Lodge 3402M(30 min break)to Yushan main peak (2.4 km)
  • 09.00 Yushan main-peak 3952M(took a longer break of ca. 1 hour)
  • 11.00 Back at Paiyun Lodge(30 min break)
  • 14.30 Back to the parking lot (there is also a option to take a shuttle bus for the last 3 km

Video impression by Anouk

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4 Responses

  1. Blijft een hele prestatie hoor, in één dag, wow! 🤩
    Dat filmpje is ook tof!

  2. George de Vries says:

    Een hele uitdaging! Een mooi poëtisch verhaal en een heel leuk filmpje!

  3. Viola & Erik says:

    Haha ja, was goed dat we Anouk meehadden, het filmpje voegt echt iets toe! Wordt tijd dat we ook een gopro aanschaffen;)

  4. Anouk says:

    Yesss super leuk!! Door jullie verhaal heb ik hem nog een keertje beleefd!