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10 best hidden hikes & underrated trails in Hong Kong

By Amanda Sheppard 19 December 2018 | Last Updated 16 July 2020

Header image courtesy of Chester Ho (Unsplash)

Originally published by Amanda Sheppard. Last updated by Jen Paolini.

Hiking is one of Hong Kong’s favourite pastimes, but the second the humidity drops, and the scorching summer temperatures begin to settle, the masses descend on the city’s most popular trails. However, Hong Kong is also host to a number of lesser-known trails that boast their fair share of scenic views. Here are just some of the best alternative routes and hidden hikes to explore.

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Photo credit: @chrisszheng (Instagram)

If you’ve hiked Jardine’s Lookout: Mount Nicholson & Mount Cameron

If it’s stunning panoramas and jaw-dropping views you’re after, there’s no need to jostle for position at the Peak. Many Hongkongers will already know and have hiked Jardine’s Lookout, which offers one of the best viewpoints over Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour. Mount Nicholson and Mount Cameron, on the other hand, is a less-trodden trail surrounded by the Wan Chai, Happy Valley, Mid-Levels, and Southside neighbourhoods. Aside from getting in a decent amount of exercise, the summits afford you a 360-degree view of the Aberdeen Reservoir, Victoria Harbour, the aforementioned Jardine’s Lookout, and more.

Make your start at Wong Nai Chung Gap Road. The trail will take you up to Black’s Link (where heaps of luxurious mansions await you should you wish to ogle at the uber-wealthy), the steep slopes of Mount Nicholson, the iconic landmark of Mask Rock, and the undulating hills of Mount Cameron before following Wan Chai Gap Road back to civilisation. There’s a fun bit of bushwhacking involved too for the intrepid hiker!

Length: Six kilometres

Time: Four hours

How to get there: Take bus 6, 63, or 76 to Repulse Bay and alight at Wong Nai Chung Reservoir Park stop.

Photo credit: @laishunhang (Instagram)

If you’ve hiked Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls: Ma Dai Stream

Lam Tsuen’s picturesque collection of waterfalls is a sure-fire hit amongst hikers looking for a shaded trail with frequent options to dip into shallow rock pools. In that regard, few other trails in Hong Kong can beat the combined natural beauties of the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls hike. However, if you’re looking to beat the crowds and still experience the challenge offered on the Ng Tung Chai trail with a rewarding cooldown, give Ma Dai Stream a try. This hidden waterfall is considered one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets among those in the know, and you might even miss it if you don’t know what you’re searching for.

Fight your way through the rugged cliffs and lush wilderness of Ma On Shan Country Park and it will eventually reveal its glories, allowing you to enjoy the splendour of the Ma Dai Stream. This superb waterfall comes with a secluded rock pool for those keen on a private dip. While the hike to the waterfall itself isn’t a long one, there are stretches of strenuous clambering over rocks and uneven ground, so be ready to use your hands and get ready to climb.

Length: Five kilometres

Time: Two hours

How to get there: From Tai Shui Hang Station (Exit B), head to Tai Shui Hang North Street to a set of stairs leading up to a forest path.

Photo credit: @ernestsburg (Instagram)

If you’ve hiked Pinewood Battery Heritage Trail: Shui Long Wo

Sure, the Pinewood Battery Heritage Trail boasts the highest coastal defence battery in Hong Kong as its crowning jewel and doubles as an awesome history lesson, but wouldn’t you rather pretend to be Indiana Jones for a few hours and “unearth” an Aztec-looking structure instead? 

Shui Long Wo in Ma On Shan Country Park is an easy hike that even beginners should be able to complete without any problems. Overlapping Stage 4 of the MacLehose Trail, this route starts on Sai Sha Road and can be quickly completed by circling down to Sai Kung’s Shan Liu Sheung Road. If you’re just here for the tower, you can consider this as a short and sweet visit, as you’ll come across the mysterious structure shortly into the start of your journey. Sitting in a lush clearing surrounded by tall trees near the Shui Long Wo Campsite, this overgrown stone edifice is actually an ancient stargazing platform that rises six metres high and is said to be modelled after the Dengfeng Observatory, a World Heritage Site in Gaocheng Town in Henan province.

However, should you be down for a challenge, you can continue to scale MacLehose Trail Stage 4 once past the campsite to reach Pyramid Hill, the Ngong Ping Viewing Point, and Ma On Shan Barbecue Site, all while feasting on views of Sai Kung and Ma On Shan. Naturally, this will take several more hours. Pack enough water and refreshments, as there are no kiosks along the way.

Length: Two kilometres

Time: 1 hour

How to get there: Take bus 99 from Wu Kai Sha Station and alight at Shui Long Wo stop.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Photo credit: @steplpm_ (Instagram)

If you’ve hiked Ap Lei Pai: Castle Peak

Southside’s Ap Lei Pai and Yuk Kwai Shan is a killer hike for explorers seeking a thrilling sense of adventure, a killer quad workout, and stunning scenic views. If you’ve conquered the slopes of this southern giant and are now looking for the next challenge, Castle Peak’s steep 600-metre ascent should prove suitable. At the summit ridge’s radio tower, you’ll be treated to views overlooking the vast Tuen Mun region and a gorgeous sunset if you time your hike right.

The Castle Peak hike is relatively safe throughout but there is a degree of difficulty in its inclines, making it a trail better fitted for experienced hikers. Some parts are quite steep and should not be tackled on a rainy day, and we would highly recommend proper hiking shoes for this trek. Along the way, you’ll pass Heung Hoi Ming Shan Memorial Archway and the colourful Tsing Shan Monastery, both of which are worth a detour to absorb some of Hong Kong’s rich cultural history, especially if you are a Bruce Lee fan—his iconic 1973 film, Enter the Dragon, features Tsing Shan Monastery in its intro.

Length: Six kilometres

Time: Four hours

How to get there: From Tuen Mun Station (Exit A), head along Pui To Road and Tsing Wun Road to Heung Hoi Ming Shan Memorial Archway.

Photo credit: @vennieso (Instagram)

If you’ve hiked Pat Sing Leng: Tiu Tang Lung

The eight-peak range of Pat Sing Leng is daunting for anyone who’s had a go at them, but did you know that right next door to this legendary mountain ridge is a hiking trail that’s just as formidable? Tai Po’s Tiu Tang Lung is not for the faint-hearted; this route clocks in at 11 kilometres and is equipped with several steep sections that will require monkey-like clambering. Tiu Tang Lung towers high above the Plover Cove Country Park for those seeking a gruelling climbing quest.

On the way, aside from sweeping views of Plover Cove Reservoir, Double Haven, and Pat Sin Leng, you’ll pass through the tranquil village of Sam A Tsuen and Fook Lee Teahouse, a small restaurant and rest spot for hikers. Explore the red rocks and wetland mangroves near the Sam A Chung Campsite and finish off with a gratifying soak in the waters of Bride’s Pool.

Length: Eleven kilometres

Time: Six hours

How to get there: Take minibus 20R from Tai Po Market Station and alight at Wu Kau Tang.

Photo credit: Lolleroll

If you’ve hiked Dragon’s Back: Mui Wo to Pui O

Nobody likes queuing—especially not when you’re hiking. Unfortunately, that has become part and parcel of hiking Dragon’s Back on a nice day out in Hong Kong. Arguably the city’s most popular hike, the views of Shek O Beach and Big Wave Bay speak for themselves. But if it’s a brisk walk and a beach bar you’re after, there are alternatives. Hiking from Mui Wo to Pui O, the route follows Section 12 of the Lantau Trail in reverse. To reach the start of the trail, turn left from the ferry pier and walk along the waterfront for five minutes.

Length: Nine kilometres

Time: Three hours

How to get there: Take the ferry to Mui Wo from Central Ferry Pier 6.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Photo credit: Great Outdoors Adventure

If you’ve hiked Tai Long Wan: High Junk Peak

Thanks to its comparatively remote location, you’ll seldom find Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung seriously crowded, but there are times when even Hong Kong’s far-reaching corners are occupied. High Junk Peak is a great alternative that not only offers views overlooking Clearwater Bay, but it’s also easier to reach than its more popular neighbour. Expect peaks and troughs, and a hike suitable for even relatively inexperienced hikers. Click here to read our full guide to hiking High Junk Peak.

Length: Six and a half kilometres

Time: Three and a half hours

How to get there: Take minibus 103 from Hang Hau Station (Exit B1).

Photo credit: Tobias Bengtsson

If you’ve hiked the Morning Trail: Peel Rise

More of a brisk walk than a hike (you’ll likely have seen people navigate the uphill stroll in jeans and a t-shirt), the Morning Trail is as urban a hike as they come—a short, sharp, steep climb that takes you up to Victoria Peak from Hatton Road in Mid-Levels. However, Peel Rise boasts the same urbanscapes, with additional views of the Lamma Channel and Ap Lei Chau Industrial Estate.

Length: Four and a half kilometres

Time: One and a half hours

How to get there: Carry on from the Morning Trail at Victoria Peak, or take minibus 91.

Photo credit: Mike Pickles

If you’ve hiked the Twins: Sunset Peak

If you’re looking to rack up some serious steps and are willing to venture further afield than Tai Tam for The Twins and Violet Hill, Sunset Peak is a strong alternative for seasoned hikers. Starting from the Nam Shan Barbecue Area (a 45-minute walk from the ferry pier or a quick bus or taxi ride), Section 2 of the Lantau Trail takes you to Pak Kung Au. Steep steps are the name of the game, and a lot of the trail is exposed, so be sure to bring enough water and sunscreen with you, as the winter sun can burn particularly strong. Click here to read our full guide to hiking Sunset Peak.

Length: Six and a half kilometres

Time: Three hours

How to get there: Take the ferry to Mui Wo from Central Ferry Pier 6. If you board a bus to the Nam Shan Barbecue Site, take bus 1 and pay the sectional fare in cash.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

If you’ve hiked Lion Rock: Tate’s Cairn

Lion Rock is a firm fixture on every Hong Kong hiker’s bucket list—and with its stunning views of the city below, it’s clear to see why. But if posing cliff-side and living on the edge isn’t quite your thing, then Tate’s Cairn boasts similar vistas without the droves of people following suit. Taking you from Stage Four to Five on the Maclehose Trail, you can either continue the trail on to Suicide Cliff or take the faster route down to Choi Hung.

Length: Five kilometres

Time: Two hours

How to get there: From Wong Tai Sin Station (Exit E), follow Sha Tin Pass Road until you enter the Lion Rock Country Park.

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Following a brief and bitterly cold stint in Scotland, Amanda returned to Hong Kong—a place she’s called home for over 18 years—to begin her career as a writer. She can often be found getting lost somewhere very familiar, planning her next holiday, and enjoying a cup (or three) of good, strong coffee.

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