Header image courtesy of @hkintheair (via Instagram)
Hong Kong is iconic for its spectacular skylines and limitless upward expansions. Even more incredible is our natural terrain, characterised by steep inclines and rocky slopes that urge for stern public warnings during landslide season. Boasting an ultimate crest that reaches almost a thousand metres tall, and over 20 spaces with terrains exceeding five hundred metres above sea level, there is no shortage of high hills and beautiful upland views all around. Read on to explore new heights and find the highest peaks to hike in Hong Kong.
Literally translated to mean “Big Hat Mountain,” Tai Mo Shan (大帽山) takes the crown (or top hat, rather) for the highest peak in Hong Kong, clocking in at 957 metres. Tai Mo Shan is a massif that encircles up to eight subpeaks—including the iconic Needle Hill—amongst the 1,140 hectares of land comprising the Tai Mo Shan Country Park. Hiking trails meander all around, featuring a three-hour trip to the top that starts from the quaint path to Ng Tung Chai village, by way of some picturesque waterfalls, of course.
It may come as a surprise to realise that the rugged turf and silvergrass bushels under your feet are masquerading pure volcanic rock forms that date as far back as the Jurassic period. Although Tai Mo Shan spends most of its days shrouded in clouds or fog, high-visibility days from this elevation offers up breath-taking panoramas. You are able to access an all-encompassing view of Northern and Western New Territories, the rolling greens of Yuen Long and Pat Heung, even reaching as far as the fringes of Shenzhen on a good day!
Click here to read more about the nature trails and hikes you can explore around Tai Mo Shan.
Otherwise known as Phoenix Mountain (鳳凰山; fung6 wong4 saan1), the second-highest peak in Hong Kong and the tallest mountain of Lantau Island is the eponymous Lantau Peak. Its 934-metre summit is a popular hiking destination with outstanding views that draws in local adventurers and tourists alike.
A complex network of routes slithers its way up and all across the slopes, revealing the stone trails and circuit of village roads that once graced the area. Many hikers choose to make their ways here at the early cracks of dawn, as the site has an iconic reputation as an unbeatable sunrise photography spot.
Click here to read more about how to hike Lantau Peak.
To the east of Lantau Peak at 869 metres stands the impressive Sunset Peak, which is only accessible by foot. Aside from its beautiful trails, the surrounding areas of this tall peak also offer up expansive, dazzling spaces and campgrounds like Kau Ling Chung, Tai Long Wan, and Lo Kei Wan, replete with barbecue facilities. Its neighbours, Po Lin Monastery of Ngong Ping and Big Buddha, are also attractions worth paying a visit to.
Another piece of history that has firmly made its mark is the Lantau Mountain Camp. On the way to the top, you will notice a handful of concrete huts perched along the shoulder near the peak. Built in 1925, these rustic stone shacks were once an upper-class cabin retreat for wealthy British settlers, providing them with resort features like a dining hall, swimming pool, watchmen’s house, and servant quarters. Since its repair after damages from Japanese troops during the Second World War, this collection of bungalows has been maintained and operated by the Methodist Church of Hong Kong as a religious retreat.
Click here to read more about how to hike Sunset Peak.
Resembling a horseback saddle, which its Chinese name (馬鞍山; ma5 on1 saan1) reflects, this 702-metre-tall apex serves as the towering wedge bordering the Sha Tin and Tai Po districts. Lush forests and varied local wildlife reside on the northern slopes, thanks to the undisturbed environment, whilst the lower foothills mostly consist of shrubbery. Hikes in the area are notoriously challenging yet highly rewarding, as they offer up views of the entire stretch between Tolo Harbour all the way to the coastal peninsula of Sai Kung.
Besides the natural wonders that it presents, there is also a rich history behind the high peaks of Ma On Shan. During the early twentieth century, an extensive maze of tunnels was burrowed under the mountain to make way for iron mines. Such rocks held a high percentage of iron ore, with its output peaking in tonnes during the 1950s to 1960s, before its decline and eventual discontinuation that followed a decade after.
Click here to read more about the different hikes you can go on in Ma On Shan.
An impressive range of mountains that features eight towering peaks, Pat Sin Leng is an impressive collection of landforms that rules over the geographical landscape of the northeastern New Territories. Named after the Eight Immortals of Chinese mythology, each of the mountaintops has been given a title corresponding to one of the famous xian (仙; an entity with a long life or immortality) from the legends. Along the length of Pat Sin Leng, the tallest peaks amongst the ranges start at 489 metres and go up to 590 metres.
Pat Sin Leng Country Park is replete with emerald green lakes and family-friendly barbecue sites, as well as camping grounds dotted all around. An infamously difficult route, the Stage 9 and Stage 10 sections of the Wilson Trail take you on a seven-hour trek towards a breath-taking (literally!) vantage point.
Click here to read more about how to hike Pat Sin Leng.