After skipping the Shuishedashan hike the day before, I’m itching for some exercise. I wake up early and take a bus eastwards to Taichung’s Taiping District to trail run up 三汀山 Santingshan.
Right before crossing the Toubiankeng River, a small road leads to the trailhead. A handful of cars are already parked on the sides of the road, and merchants are beginning to set up their fruit stalls. It reminds me of 觀音山 Guanyinshan in Kaohsiung, another small suburban hill where it feels like no matter how early you go, you’ll always find a few locals starting their morning routine even earlier.
The trail starts on a small paved road, and soon, multiple variations branch off. Whether you like dirt trails or prefer walking on (occasionally very steep) roads, Santingshan has you covered. Of course, you can also further any love-hate relationship you might have with the ubiquitous sets of stairs all over Taiwan’s mountains.
It’s 2.5 kilometres to the top. I have to take a few breaks from running as it gets incredibly steep, and I’m slightly out of shape, but finishing this little climb in one go feels like something I could work my way up to.
On top, there’s a viewing platform, and locals have arranged a few improvised chairs and exercise stations. I’m always impressed by their simple yet ingenious designs. A plain rock tile angled against the foundation of a railing serves as a stretching station for the calves. I relax, overlooking the scenery while releasing some tension from my tired legs.
A bit later, I jog back down, exploring some of the other trail options. There’s a little lake towards the bottom. The water doesn’t look inviting, but the scenery is still beautiful. I take the last few steps back to the trailhead. By now, every parking space has been taken, and cars are filling up both sides of the road.
I go for soymilk and dan bing at a nearby breakfast stall before catching a bus back to Taichung.