By LUXE City Guides
You’ve ticked off the Morning Trail, scaled Dragon’s Back and snapped yourself atop Lion’s Rock – so what next? If you’re looking to up the ante on your next outdoor adventure, Hong Kong is paradise for experienced hikers and trail runners, offering an abundance of trails with different degrees of gradient, terrain and scenery. Here are a few suggestions for more adventurous hikes, from the experts.
Andre Blumberg only started running at the age of 40, but in the nine years since he’s won numerous ultra-running races (distances longer than a 42.2 km marathon), in Hong Kong and overseas. One of Andre’s favourite routes is the sharply undulating 16.8km stretch across the ‘Eight Immortals’ in Pat Sin Leng Country Park in northeastern New Territories. The steep, frequent ups and downs – eight in total – make it one of Hong Kong’s more challenging hikes, but it’s also “quiet and allows one to enjoy nature”, says Andre. Catch-your-breath stops are bestowed with sweeping views of the countryside, over Plover Cove Reservoir, Tolo Harbour and the alabaster-white Goddess of Mercy, plus the glittering skyscrapers of megacity Shenzhen in the distance.
For one of Hong Kong’s top female ultra-runners Wyan Chow Pui-yan, the vertiginous Nam She Tsim is the most challenging route to be found in Hong Kong. The name says it all: ‘sharp’. This extremely steep, pointed, 468m-high peak in Sai Kung East Country Park, is reached after a 3 km hike from Pak Tam Au; the glute-busting climb not only rewards you with an intense workout, but you’ll be granted dazzling 360-degree panoramas of Sai Kung’s lush emerald landscape and spotless beaches. Uneven shale paths make this a highly technical climb and the ground can be loose on the equally steep descent; it’s worth taking hiking poles, while Chow Pui-yan recommends keeping your body low and taking the climb slowly. Once you’ve overcome the jelly-like shakes in your legs, the balmy waters of Tai Long Wan Beach are but a few clicks away. Only experienced hikers need apply.
Standing at 957 metres, imposing Tai Mo Shan is Hong Kong’s highest peak, but this hulk of a mountain, often shrouded in cloud is also surprisingly accessible – you can drive or bus it to the mid-level or even start from just below the summit. The appeal for experienced hikers and trail runners like Chow Pui-yan is the range of trails the mountain offers – there are several different ways to ascend, which is why the super athlete returns over and again, “after running for 20 years I like to explore and find new routes,” she explains. The best-known trail starts at Tai Mo Shan Country Park, which ascends to the mountain’s summit and along the well-maintained MacLehose Trail Section 8, ending at the Hong Kong Observatory weather station. Along the way you can expect to experience atmospheric cloud cover, varied flora and fauna, and on a rare clear day, sweeping vistas of the mountain and beyond.
As founder of the colossal 298 km non-stop ultra event HK4TUC (during which runners tackle MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau Trails consecutively with the aim of completing in under 60 hours), Andre is intimately acquainted with all of Hong Kong’s hiking routes, but he’s also aware that few people will have the inclination to take on such an extreme trek. Instead, for visitors looking for a challenging, but accessible hike, he recommends the Lantau Trail Sections 2 and 3, aka Lantau Two Peaks, which runs from Nam Shan to Ngong Ping via Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak.
This is an all-day hike across two of Hong Kong’s highest mountains and while there’s serious, steep climbing in parts, it’s a varied trail that starts amid sheltered woodland and winds up to open mountain meadows, past waterfalls and historic cabins, with stunning views across Lantau Island’s beaches, the South China Sea and Hong Kong Island along the way. Of the two mountains, Lantau Island Peak is the more demanding with uber-steep steps up to the summit and down again; the last stretch winds underneath the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, offering a birds-eye view of the gleaming Big Buddha. A good degree of fitness is required to tackle the entire 6-8-hour hike, but it’s also easy to slice into two; after descending Sunset Peak the trail meets Tung Chung Road where you can hop on the bus to Cheung Sha Beach for a relaxing lunch with the sand between your toes.
Tips for Adventure Hiking
- A good degree of fitness is not only required, but essential: only experienced, fit hikers should attempt these routes.
- Food and water aren’t available on Hong Kong’s more remote hiking trails – be sure to pack plenty of both for the duration of your hike. Add electrolytes to water on hot days, take a camel pack for easy drinking access and ensure snacks are high energy and easily digestible.
- Leave the sneakers at home; you’ll need to wear durable hiking or trail running shoes (or boots) to tackle the unpaved trails.
- Hiking poles help stabilise you, especially when descending steep peaks.
- Don’t rely on your phone! Download or print out maps for the trails as there’s often limited GPS.
- Super hot, stormy, high pollution or low visibility? Don’t even think about it.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.
Information in this guide is subject to changes without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.