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It’s no secret Hong Kong is a dizzying and bustling city, but on rare occasions, city escapes like Duckling Hill will find their way to you, taking you out from the verticality and into a more peaceful respite.
Bridging Hang Hau and Clear Water Bay, the Duckling Hill hike may be easily overshadowed by larger hikes around the area, like High Junk Peak and Kowloon Peak, but don’t dismiss its shorter route—Duckling Hill finds its charm from its long history of appealing to community hikers, who, wrestling with rapid urbanisation, carved out a public space to call their own.
Duckling Hill may not be the most challenging hike for the health nuts out there, but it’s worth a visit, especially if you’ve conquered the essentials (Dragon’s Back, Tai Long Wan—you know the drill) and are aching for more.
Ducking Hill—also known as Ap Tsai Shan (鴨仔山)—gets its name from its once duck-like shape that’s now been reconstructed by surrounding apartment buildings. The hike sits adjacent to Hang Hau and Po Lam, overlooking Silverstrand Beach.
Duckling Hill’s vibrant community spirit traces all the way back to the 1980s, when amidst a public housing shift in Tseung Kwan O (or “New Town,” as it was known then), residents took it upon themselves to create a place with sun shelters, pavilions, and gardens. The result was something that deeply contrasted with the uniformity and architecture of its surrounding residential units. It’s something that can still be felt today, and the structure of Duckling Hill has since been re-assessed in order to make the hill more accessible.
As with other hikes in Hong Kong, the trail at Duckling Hill intersects with other hikes like Razor Hill and Little Hawaii Trail, so it’s up to you how far you’d like to go. You’ll also find the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) close by.
Distance: 3.7 kilometres approx.
Ascent: 199 metres
Time: 1 hour approx.
To hike Duckling Hill, you can start in Hang Hau, a suburban neighbourhood in the Tseung Kwan O District. As a city hike, Duckling Hill is extremely accessible and only takes a short while to reach from the closest MTR station.
Find the entrance to Duckling Hill across the street from Po Leung Kuk Ho Yuk Ching College, where a set of stairs will bring you to the start of the hike. From there, the rest of the hike is pretty straight-forward, although it’s worth mentioning that once you reach the hike’s official starting point (you’ll see a map and a signpost that direct you to King Lam Estate or Hang Hau village), you have the option of scaling this hike by way of stairs or an upward slope. For an easier and more slow-paced option, go through the upwards slope, plus you get the stellar views that overlook the village houses.
Throughout the hike, you will be guided by a number of signs that point to the different paths you can take, so put away Google Maps and enjoy the walk as nature intended, free of your smartphone. There’s a public restroom at the beginning of the hike and resting spots along the way, but perhaps the most unique feature of the Duckling Hill hike is the collection of outdoor fitness equipment stationed throughout. Talk about getting a workout in!
If you go in the early morning, expect to find locals from nearby communities out and about on their morning stroll or practising tai chi. Duckling Hill is popular among neighbourhood residents for its accessibility and for the fact that it borders between being more of a family walk than a hike. Still, you can expect to get your sweat on—Duckling Hill may be relatively easy but with summer in Hong Kong coming up, it will hardly take you a second to break a sweat.
When you reach the peak, you’ll be directed to Clear Water Bay Road. From here, it’s but another five minutes until you’re back in the throngs of civilisation. You’ll know you have reached the end of the hike as you begin to hear buses roaring along the road. Spot the Caltex gas station and there you have it—you’ve successfully hiked Duckling Hill.
Take minibus 101M back to Hang Hau Station, or if you’re feeling extra energetic, turn around and retrace your steps to make your way back! You might end up spotting something new on the hike back.