Header image courtesy of @itdoghklife (via Instagram)
If you’re an avid hiker or love spending time outdoors, chances are you are no stranger to the famous “Thousand Island Lake” in Tai Lam Country Park, but did you know that just a few kilometres northeast of this widely touted hiking destination quietly sits another reservoir, offering its fair share of arresting waterscapes and remarkable biodiversity? Ho Pui Reservoir is an idyllic pocket of hinterlands with a family-friendly loop trail skirting its perimeter—ideal those eager to escape the masses and enjoy an easy stroll. So, if you’re keen for a fun, off-the-beaten-track excursion, follow along and we’ll show you how to hike Ho Pui Reservoir Family Walk.
Nestled deep in the rural countryside of the western New Territories between Pat Heung and Tsuen Wan, Ho Pui Reservoir was built in 1961 to serve the irrigation needs of nearby farmlands. While the reservoir is small, it’s packed with enough unique scenic features to give its larger neighbouring bodies of water a run for their money. If you don’t take our word for it, Ho Pui Reservoir has previously been named by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department as one of the top 10 countryside sights in Hong Kong! We can totally see why—from the emerald waters and bamboo groves to the 157-metre-long S-shaped dam that stretches across the northern side of the reservoir, this place offers a profoundly zen and immersive experience with nature.
The loop trail around the reservoir is called a family walk for a reason—merely two kilometres long and with a flat and well-paved path the whole way through, it’s an easy-breezy stroll that even those with little to no hiking experience can enjoy. Perhaps the hardest part is making your way to the trailhead! As the reservoir is tucked away in a relatively remote part of Tai Lam Country Park, it takes a bit of a trek to get to (which is a big reason why the trail usually stays pretty quiet). However, even taking this into account, the entire length of the journey is just under five kilometres and can be completed in around two hours. And with so many different sights to see along the way, there is no way you will get bored on the hike!
Distance: 5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 157 metres
Total time: 2 hours approx.
We’re starting this hike from Ho Pui Village, one of the many quaint villages in Pat Heung. Although it seems a bit out of the way, it’s actually not too difficult to reach. There’s only one minibus going to Ho Pui Village and you can take it from Kam Sheung Road Station Public Transport Interchange, located just a stone’s throw away from Kam Sheung Road MTR station. You don't have to worry about missing your stop either, because Ho Pui Village is the final destination of the route.
As mentioned, the most strenuous section of the hike takes place before you even set foot on the loop trail, so prepare to work up a sweat as soon after alighting the minibus. Once you get off at Ho Pui minibus stop, walk straight through the village along Ho Pui Tsuen Road for 15 to 20 minutes until you reach Ho Pui Campsite.
You’ll be climbing uphill here, but the gravel road is wide and the incline gradual, so there’s not much of a challenge to speak of. Plus, you will be accompanied by some solid views of the Kam Tin and Kai Kung Leng at a distance to keep you distracted. The village-esque scene framed by lush greenery makes you feel as though you’ve been whisked far away from Hong Kong!
Upon approaching the campsite, you will meet a junction with a right turn leading to the reservoir. Follow the concrete path for another 0.7 kilometres and you will arrive at a roundabout right beside the reservoir, which also marks the starting point of the family trail.
Coming up to the roundabout, you will pass by an organic farm selling fresh and organic produce. A quick sojourn into the farm is certainly worthwhile, but we recommend holding out on purchasing anything until your return journey, just to avoid the trouble of carrying extra weight. You could, however, check out the café within the premise and fuel up on some healthy and tasty bites!
The anti-clockwise walk around the reservoir is flat and largely shaded, making for a pleasant amble all year round. That doesn’t mean the hike is any less exciting though—the scenery changes at every bend to keep you engaged and interested throughout. In some sections, you are offered front-row seats to the tranquil waters of the reservoir, while in others, you are completely immersed in verdant woodland.
Along the trail, you will encounter little streams, waterfalls, and even a mystical bamboo forest tunnel to satisfy your wanderlust! With dense thickets of bamboo flanked on both sides of the dirt path, this gorgeous stretch of the hike looks like it came out of the famous Arashiyama bamboo grove in Kyoto. Go ahead—snap a few shots for Instagram and fool a few of your friends!
The trail also serves up an additional treat for those who visit during late autumn or winter, namely oh-so-photogenic silvergrass fields. Feathery, graceful, and sparkling under the sun, these ornamental grasses imbue the environment with such serenity that you are guaranteed to feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after the hike.
As with most good things in life, the biggest reward of the hike comes at the end after you’ve put in the effort. While scenic spots are aplenty throughout the trail, the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the magnificent S-shaped dam in the last section. Walking along the curved structure affords you unobstructed views of the entire reservoir and its vicinity.
On a windless day, you’ll see the calm waters of the reservoir holding the glassy reflection of its surrounding trees like an untouched painting. If you look down on either side, and you will also be able to admire the dam’s impressive architecture, made even more sublime with overflowing water cascading down the sloped spillways.
Once you get to the other end of the dam, you will find yourself right back where you started at the roundabout (yes, this essentially means that you could go straight to the dam without even having to go around the reservoir, but what’s the fun in that?). To leave from here, simply take the same concrete path back out to Ho Pui Village—going downhill this time round should be much quicker. You can explore around the village and soak in the peaceful, laid-back atmosphere or take minibus 71 back to Yuen Long and end your day with some tasty grub!