Header images courtesy of @stephanographie and @hikinglife.ka (via Instagram)
You might have checked off the iconic Lion Rock and Amah Rock, but you have not fully explored Lion Rock Country Park until you’ve hiked the scenic trail from Eagle’s Nest to Beacon Hill. Thanks to its close proximity to the city, the underrated route of Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail treats visitors to a dramatic experience of both natural beauty and glitzy, urban landscapes, with sweeping vistas overlooking the Kowloon peninsula. Even if a few hours is all you have to spare, it’s well worth your time to nip out here for a quick dose of cardio and adventure.
Need more convincing? How about superb sunset views to boot? Set off in the late afternoon and you’ll catch the sun casting its golden glow over the city’s concrete forest. If you’re ready for a refreshing excursion, slip on your sneakers and let’s hike Eagle’s Nest and Beacon Hill.
Running along the western stretch of Lion Rock Country Park, the scenic hike to Eagle’s Nest and Beacon Hill takes you through Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail and a portion of Maclehose Trail Section 5, totalling at around six kilometres from start to finish. The first peak you’ll reach is Eagle’s Nest (also known as Tsim Shan), which—true to its name—is said to be a popular roosting site for black kite eagles. Beacon Hill, on the other hand, wears a bit of an outdated title, as the watchtower that was allegedly erected on the hill during the Qing and Ming dynasty has disappeared without a trace of its former existence.
Clocking in at 312 metres and 457 metres respectively, Eagle’s Nest and Beacon Hill may not rise above their neighbouring peaks by height, but they certainly stack up when it comes to photo-worthy vistas. Expect to stop and admire breathtaking panoramas of the Kowloon peninsula skyline from multiple vantage points, as well as a cheeky side view of the famed Lion Rock Head!
Shorter altitudes usually come with the relief of an easier trek. Safe to say, even inexperienced hikers and families will be able to conquer this hike without getting too winded. And while there are a few bursts of uphill inclination, the paths are smooth and shaded most of the way so you can stay cool and comfortable. You won’t need much gear either beside a pair of sneakers and a filled water bottle.
One thing to beware of, however, is the monkey and wild boars that frequent the trail. These furry creatures are harmless for the most part, but they can get feisty when they see food or plastic bags, so stow those well out of sight!
Distance: 6 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 355 metres approx.
Total time: 2.5 hours approx.
The hike begins at the trailhead of the Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail, located on the western corner of Lion Rock Country Park near the Kowloon Group of Reservoirs. The most convenient way of getting there is by buses 81 or 72 to Shek Lei Pui Reservoir stop, which lies just a stone’s throw away from the trail. You can catch either of the buses from any stop along the routes, but for the sake of providing you with an easy jumping-off point, we’ll show you the directions from the well-connected Prince Edward MTR station.
The first section of the hike along Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail is a breezy, two-kilometre walk through the lush forests of the country park. With a mixture of stone steps and dirt tracks in the beginning, the path appears to be a bit rugged at first glance, but rest assured that the terrain itself is actually fairly even and steady. This means you’ll have an easier time keeping your head up to appreciate the rich flora and fauna in the area!
Botanical enthusiast or not, you cannot deny the beauty of the flourishing plants and flowers that abound at every corner. In particular, look out for the rare ailanthus trees, identified by their attractive feathery fronds and yellow fluffy clusters, as well as the of slender shiuying bamboo, a small bamboo species endemic to Hong Kong and was first discovered in Eagle’s Nest thirty years ago.
Despite much of the trail being well-protected from the sun, there are a few spots that emerge from the jungle-like greenery to remind you that the city is just beyond the trees. Among them, Eagle’s Nest Viewing Point boasts the best views. The open clearing allows you to see the dense low rises in Sham Shui Po in juxtaposition with the majestic skyscrapers of West Kowloon (with ICC in the centre!) in one sweeping panorama.
After snapping a few photos, continue on the trail until you reach Lung Yan Road, which is the only part of the hike that’s paved. Coming up to Lung Yan Road, you transition off Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail and onto Maclehose Trail Section 5. This is the point when the inclines start getting tougher and the stairs a bit steeper. Luckily, you will be accompanied by gorgeous views of the city that only get better the higher you ascend, serving as motivating rewards along the way.
As you approach the summit of Beacon Hill (around 1.5 hours into the hike), you will pass by a radar station with an interesting-looking dome top. The facility is not open to the public, so you won’t be able to explore much, but the nearby clearing nonetheless makes a good spot to catch your breath and rehydrate after climbing up all the stairs. From here on out, the final 600-metre stretch to the Beacon Hill Viewing Point is nothing strenuous, consisting mostly of flat terrain and even some downward steps.
The spectacular views from the Beacon Hill Viewing Point are no doubt what visitors are saving their camera space for. Located just high enough to offer a bird’s eye view over the entire Kowloon peninsula and part of Sha Tin without the buildings turning into tiny, unrecognisable specks, this vantage point perfectly captures the unique beauty of Hong Kong’s cityscape. Turn to your left and you’ll also get a good view of Lion Rock Head. Talk about a worthwhile trek!
If you’ve got the time and energy, then, by all means, soldier on for another 2.3 kilometres on Maclehose Trail Section 5 and make your way to Lion Rock Head. However, if you’ve gotten your fill of scenery would rather call it a day, head back to Lung Yan Road by the same route, but instead hopping back onto Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail, turn left on the paved road and continue down for another 15 to 20 minutes until you reach Lung Cheung Road. There are many buses here that can take you to various places in Kowloon, but if you’re looking for the nearest MTR station, bus 29B will get you to Kowloon Tong MTR station in just around 15 minutes.