Header image courtesy of @cal.lkf.vin (via Instagram)
Standing at an elevation of 957 metres, Tai Mo Shan is the highest mountain in all of Hong Kong, and the highest coastal peak in the entirety of the Southern Chinese region. Once an agricultural hub housing a variety of tea plantations, remnants of 17th century pastured terrains leave walkable tracks for explorers today.
Presumed to be Hong Kong’s mistiest area, being shrouded in cumulous clouds during the summer and fogged up with stratus clouds on low visibility winter days, best believe that hikes up the area will have you feeling like you are floating amongst the clouds! Check out these awesome trails that wind up or around the somewhat accommodating slope gradient—suited for amateurs and seasoned hikers alike.
Only one kilometre long, the short loop if the Tai Mo Shan Hiking Practice Trail is a great spot for beginner hikers and small tots to get acquainted with the fundamentals of the great outdoors. Terrain-wise, it is pretty manageable for younger children. There are plenty of signboards all around that outline basic hiking knowledge in addition to tips on how to stay safe around nature, making the trail thoroughly enjoyable as well as an educational experience.
All you need to spare is half an hour or so, and you can even round up your short adventure with a barbecue at the well-furnished site right in front of the entryway of the site. You can reach the entrance via bus 51 from Tsuen Wan MTR station, getting off at Tai Mo Shan Country Park bus stop.
Branching off from the Tai Mo Shan Hiking Practice Trail, the Rotary Club Park Nature Trail route runs straight through towards Chun Lung Chuen Ha, levelling at just under one kilometre. The lush forestry provides some much-welcomed shade for the more glaring sunny days, all whilst adding to the slightly humid environment that makes for an attractive hub for local owlflies. Springtime visitors can keep an eye out for the bright red bloom of cherry blossoms in February to early March.
On clear days, you will be able to see an entire panorama of the south side which includes Steep Island, Lamma Island, and even as far as Mount Davis. The trail is reachable from the Rotary Club Park stop along the bus 51 line that boards nearby Tsuen Wan MTR station.
The trail sets off from a marked wooden post gate, a few shadowy weeping willow trees greeting you at Chuen Lung Barbecue Area 1, right down the road from the Chun Lung bus stop on the minibus 80 route which picks up passengers next to Tsuen Wan MTR station. The walk itself is a quick 30-minute circle around the miniature hill, remaining shaded throughout and decked out in stone steps that make it perfect for family members of all ages.
At the highest point, around 300 meters, you will find a vantage point that spreads out to give you a glimpse of Victoria Peak, which bleeds into the urban Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi area by the connective tissue of Stonecutter Bridge and Tsing Yi Bridge, before leading into the hills of Ha Fa Shan. To replenish your energy, Choi Lung Restaurant just down the stairs from the bus stop is a great choice for mouth-watering dim sum and freshly cooked noodles.
Another option you may take when alighting at Tai Mo Shan Country Park by way of bus 51 is Tai Mo Shan Family Walk, which winds around the beginnings of the Rotary Club Park trail. Start on the gentle ascent of Tai Mo Shan Road, and circle around this little half-kilometre long route that stays paved—and is manageable for hikers of all ages.
Before heading off, why not check out the visitor centre? Easily spotted thanks to its mock-pagoda-shaped sloping roof, enter to find out more on the geographic deets on Tai Mo Shan, with an adjacent exhibition on issues regarding climate change. The Rotary Club Park Campsite is a pit stop along the trail where you can hang around for a long while. Toilets and running sinks are close by and easy to reach, of course.
For the longest time, Hong Kong’s mountains were actually rather barren, and looked nothing at all like the verdant green ranges that we see today. Only after the mid-twentieth century did Hong Kong government planners begin to roll up their sleeves to introduce fertile tree and plant species to bring in some variety to the landscape as well as mitigate the risk of landslides and soil erosion.
The Twisk Nature Trail is a two-kilometre circular walk allows visitors the chance to get acquainted with some local plants and animals, the paper-bark tree with its peeling skin and the camouflaging golden orb-weaver spider being some outstanding examples. You may reach the entryway of the site via bus 51 leaving a few steps away from Tsuen Wan MTR station, stepping down at the Tai Mo Shan Country Park stop.
A summertime favourite amongst many outdoor enthusiasts, this challenging hike rewards visitors with stunning views of four massive cascading waterfalls. Gradually as the tracks continue, the pathways become rockier and steeper—but so do the splashes! This trek takes you from the lower Bottom Fall to the gushing Middle Fall, then to the even grander Main Fall, and the topmost miniature Scatter Fall. Drink in the sight of these natural beauties, and feel free to take a quick dip to savour the rejuvenating pressure of the rushing waters. Do remain cautious and dry off before taking on the rocky crutches between each waterfall.
You will be signalled to the beginning of the hike when you notice the historic arches of the Man Tak Path Obelisk, which leads you to photo-worthy Man Tak Yuen Temple, markedly the official starting line. For a detailed guide on how to get there, click here.
One thing to preface this journey with is that this area is more suitably described as a recreational romp through the forest than a gateway to Instagrammable, sky-high views. Originally a passageway for farmers around the Shek Kong and Pat Heung neighbourhood to transport their produce to Tsuen Wan market, the Kap Lung Ancient Trail Loop provides a fairly easy and well shaded and well-paved walkway for a non-intensive day out in the woods.
Might we also add that the trip is all downhill? You can also take a quick downhill detour via the four-kilometre Kap Lung Forest Track, which provides you with a light and comfortable walkabout. Retrace the steps of olden rural times in Hong Kong, and appreciate the calming flow of the streams that run their way through. From Tsuen Wan MTR station to catch bus 51, and get off at Tai Mo Shan Country Park to start the trail.
The longest route on the list, arriving at nearly ten-kilometres, Section 8 of the Maclehose Trail takes hikers all the way to the topmost point of Tai Mo Shan for the most breath-taking of views. Starting out from the stone-paved steps, the road to the peak is a rather manageable one, maintaining a levelled terrain throughout along the beginnings of the incline. At the foothills, you will encounter gigantic rocks scattered around the area, showing remnants of volcanic rocks from the Jurassic era when the mountain used to be a volcano!
Do be warned that expert hikers tend to dedicate around five hours to the whole track, so the journey is worth making a day trip out of. The summit rewards explorers with a wide expanse of sky shining down at an outstretched canvas of the Kwai Tsing Container Port, flanked by Tsing Yi and Lantau Island, with the bordering Tsing Ma Bridge and Ting Kau Bridge. Signalling the peak are the giant white orbs topping the Hong Kong Observatory’s Weather Radar beacons, which stand tall over the lush plains of golden silvergrass. To get to Section 8, take minibus 82 from nearby the Tsuen Wan MTR station, and hop off at the final stop—Pineapple Dam Bus Terminus. Walk along the trail leading towards Lead Mine Pass and the main gate will soon appear.