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Mt. Qixing (Seven Stars Mountain) is an extinct volcano and is made up mainly of lava. The trail to its peak offers one of the most popular suburban mountain-climbing walks in Taiwan; the best season for enjoying its pleasures is September and October, with the second-best being April and May.
The two main trails up this mountain go to its main peak and east peak, and the two can be combined together into a single walk. This makes for a somewhat challenging trek of 5.5 kilometers that takes about three hours to complete. Along this trail you can see the steaming sulfur fumaroles of Xiaoyoukeng, dense stands of arrow bamboo, and vistas of reed plains; you can also engage in bird- and butterfly-watching. The trail is not shaded for most of its length, so you should take precautions against the heat if you go in the summer.
The main peak of Mt. Qixing rises 1,120 meters above sea level and is the tallest mountain in the Taipei area. It is also the one that offers the best views of Taipei. When the weather is clear, you can see all the way to Nanhuda Mountain and Dabajian Mountain. Look to the north and you will see mountains and valleys covered with arrow bamboo, and to the west is the famous sulfur pit of Xiaoyoukeng. The area is rich in geothermal energy, giving rise to special scenes of hot springs and sulfur fumaroles. Visitors to Yangmingshan National Park should never miss Xiaoyoukeng's great steaming sulfur pit.
Before you climb the main peak of Mt. Qixing, you can enjoy a stroll along a 500-meter trail at Xiaoyoukeng and enjoy the sights of arrow bamboo, tall reeds, and lichens, of which the arrow bamboo grove is the most unique. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the entire arrow-bamboo trail, along which two observation pavilions offer views of Little Mt. Guanyin, Zhuzihu, and the sulfur fumaroles of Xiaoyoukeng.
To climb the main peak of Mt. Qixing, you can take the trail that starts at Xiaoyoukeng. The stone steps up to the peak are rather narrow and steep, and the climb up will take about 40 to 60 minutes. The observation tower at the peak offers some of the best views in Yangmingshan National Park, giving a bird's-eye view of the Taipei basin and the surrounding mountains. From the main peak you can walk to the east peak in about ten minutes or so, along the way enjoying alluring scenes of waving reeds.
After enjoying views of the surrounding peaks, you can proceed down the mountain toward the Yangmingshan 2nd Parking Lot, or you can take the trail that leads through Qixing Park, Menghuan Lake, and Coldwater Depression (Lengshuikeng). If you choose the Coldwater Depression (Lengshuikeng) route you can see the swampy ecology of Menghuan Lake and the Taiwan isoetes fern growing there, which is listed as a national treasure. Because of its precious ecological resources, this area has been designated an ecological preserve; If you want to get really close to the lake, you will have to apply for the permission from the national park administration first. If you are tired out from all your walking, you can take a relaxing bath in the mineral water at Coldwater Depression (Lengshuikeng).