Aug 01, 2017

Interesting Hong Kong Hiking Trails

For a place with some of the most populous spots on Earth, Hong Kong still possesses a large amount of unspoilt countryside and boasts several large country parks. In fact, of its 1,108-square-kilometre area, nearly three quarters is still countryside and 40 percent is designated as country parks. This provides ample options for some great hiking and there are many very popular walks on Hong Kong Island, in the New Territories and on the Outlying Islands where city dwellers can escape on weekends for some fresh air and well-needed exercise. Two trails of special note are named after previous Hong Kong governors who were also enthusiastic hikers.

The MacLehose Trail

The dam wall and Shing Mun Reservoir

The first – the Maclehose Trail – in honour of Hong Kong’s longest serving leader (1971 to 1982) Sir Murray MacLehose, was opened in October 1979. It was he who first established Hong Kong’s country park system. The trail is 100 kilometres long and runs from Pak Tam Chung in the Sai Kung Country Park all the way to Tuen Mun in the far west. Its path takes in most of the major peaks in the New Territories as well as some of the major water storage areas and reservoirs. The trail skirts the High Island Reservoir traverses the Sai Kung country park and heads up Sharp Peak. From there it crosses over to Ma On Shan, Tate’s Cairn, Lion Rock, Beacon Hill and over to the Shing Mun Reservoir area. It then heads west again over Tai Mo Shan and down around the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir before dropping off towards So Kwun Wat and finally into Tuen Mun.

Interesting geological hexagonal columns at the Sai Kung Geopark

It is divided into 10 separate stages, each a good hike by itself, and is marked by distance posts every 500 metres. This trail is used for the popular Oxfam Trailwalker – a major fund raising event held every November in support poverty alleviation and emergency relief efforts in both Asia and Africa. It is an enjoyable event but is really designed for the hiking stalwarts since much of this hilly terrain must be navigated at night which proves quite tricky and can be dangerous.

The Wilson Trail

Named after Baron Wilson of Tillyorn, who governed the territory from 1987 to 1992, this trail was opened in 1996 and traverses eight country parks. It stretches for some 78 kilometres running from Stanley in the south of Hong Kong Island to Nam Chung in the far northeast of the New Territories. Like the Maclehose trail, it has distance posts every 500 to 600 metres and is also divided into 10 separate stages that can be undertaken singularly or in combinations as desired. The Island section leaves Stanley and heads towards Quarry Bay via Wong Nei Chung Gap. One picks up the trail again in Lam Tin, on Kowloon side, after crossing the harbour. It then heads off towards Shatin Au, up to the Shing Mun Reservoir and northwards toward Tai Po. After by-passing Tai Po town, it heads off to Cloudy Hill, then the Pat Sing Leng CountryPark and finally down to the Starling Inlet close to the Chinese border.

The Wilson Trail is renowned for its botanical diversity

This trail is renowned for its pretty scenery and fabulous vistas of different parts of Hong Kong. For botany buffs, there is no shortage of interesting and contrasting vegetation along the way with wooded slopes, overhanging bamboos, grassy hillsides, thick woodland and dense undergrowth. Depending on the time of year, there are always masses of wild flowers to perk the interest. Fauna-wise, you might see wild boars or the rather shy barking deer if you’re lucky. Around the Shing Mun area, you will encounter the pesky macaque monkeys. They are bold enough to snatch plastic bags from you, looking for food, and that is the reason for much of the garbage scattered around the area. They also raid the rubbish bins in the country park. These monkeys are aggressive, especially regarding food and should be given a wide berth.

Panoramic view of North Point and the harbour from Wong Nei Chung Gap

The Wilson Trail is strongly associated with the Raleigh Challenge which aims to create significant and lasting change through varied youth initiatives. The first Challenge was run on this trail in 2000 and has proved extremely popular amongst all levels of Hong Kong society ever since – both young and old.

The Pat Sing Leng range above Tai Po on the Wilson Trail

The Hong Kong Trail

This is a fun hike, for those living on the Island It involves a 50-kilometre trek all the way from Victoria Peak, down the Dragon’s Back, to Big Wave Bay beside to Sek O. It follows quite an indirect route passing through five separate country parks. From the Peak, it heads south to Pokfulam Reservoir, then Mount Kellett, then over to Wanchai Gap, Wong Nai Chung Gap, off to Mount Parker and the Tai Tam Country Park before descending to the coast at Big Wave Bay.

A resting spot on the Dragon's Back above Shek O

There are also charity and educational walks that take place specifically on Hong Kong Island. Notable, among these, are the Green Power Walk supporting the Green Power Fund which sponsors environmental education in the local schools. The Rainbow Trek which raises money to help autistic children. The Trailwaker@HKU is a one-day hike from Big Wave Bay to Hong Kong University for up to 300 students.

A picturesque trail by a stream on the Hong Kong Trail

The Lantau Trail

This 70-kilometre walk starts and finishes in Mui Wo on eastern Lantau. Here again, this trail is known for its stunning views, not only of Lantau but also many other parts of Hong Kong and the outlying islands. It is split into 12 separate stages so that hikers can choose between easy, difficult or strenuous hikes. The trail was inaugurated in December 1984 and covers most of the southern half of Lantau Island. It is very well sign posted and like most Hong Kong trails has distance markers at 500-metre intervals.

A view of Lantau Peak viewed from a point along the Lantau Trail

After leaving Mui Wo, you head up the Sunset Peak and then Lantau Peak via Nam Shan and then off to the high point of the walk at Nong Ping, the home of the Big Buddha Statue. The trail then heads southwest towards Keung Shan and Tai O before turning south to Fan Lau Tsuen at the very southern tip of Lantau. The return path heads north again towards Shek Pik Reservoir, passes by the Cheung Sha Beach, traverses the Nam Shan Pass, and finally ends up back in Mui Wo.

Looking down over Ping Shek Reservoir on the Lantau Trail

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