Header image courtesy of @kruger.corrie (via Instagram)
Perhaps you are new to the hiking world and on the hunt for something with a high rewards-to-effort ratio, or maybe you just need to give your legs a rest after one too many lung-busting climbs. Regardless of your experience or level of fitness, Pineapple Dam Nature Trail along the Shing Mun Reservoir is a great, scenic hike for anyone looking to slip away from the stresses of daily life, if only just for a short while. Packed within this route are all the right ingredients for a relaxing outdoor escape: thickets of paperbark trees, vast stretches of serene waters, and lyrical sounds of vibrant wildlife. Follow along and get ready to experience all that the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail has to offer!
Wedged between Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan, Pineapple Dam is one of the three dams making up the Shing Mun Reservoir. This water impounding structure has an interesting history that’s actually closely related to its namesake fruit (unlike a certain iconic breakfast bun!). Resting at the foot of Tai Mo Shan where rural scenery spreads, this New Territories locale once thrived with fragrant pineapple fields manned by local Hakka villagers. So when the government constructed an auxiliary dam to expand the storage capacity of Shing Mun Reservoir in the 1930s, it was naturally dubbed “Pineapple Dam.”
Running northwards for just under one kilometre along the western side of Upper Shing Mun Reservoir, the nature trail itself is extremely short, yet full of picturesque sights and varied natural attractions to explore, including a magnificent water reserve fringed by rocky banks and dense woodland. You can take a round-trip following the same trail back and still experience new thrills, be it a wildlife encounter or spectacular views from a different vantage point.
Perhaps the best part of all is that the trail is easy and comfortable to walk. Thanks to the tall, leafy trees lining most of the path, there’s ample shading to keep you cool and sunburn-free. The trail is also well-paved with mainly flat terrain, so you don’t even need to pull out your heavy-duty hiking boots—just a comfortable pair of sneakers will do!
If you find yourself yearning for more after the leisurely trot, you can easily combine it with the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk and complete the full nine-kilometre loop around the reservoir. It’s more or less an extension of the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail, meaning equally beginner-friendly and brimming with beautiful vistas!
Distance: 1 kilometre approx.
Total ascent: 100 metres approx.
Total time: 1 hour approx.
Getting to Pineapple Dam could not be more convenient, as there is a minibus from Tsuen Wan that can take you straight to the starting point of your hike. This is also the same location as the entrance of Shing Mun Country Park. Another option would be to hop on a bus that will bring you to Ho Fung College, then walk along Shing Mun Road until you reach Pineapple Dam—it’s at the very end of the road, so there’s little chance of getting it wrong.
Immediately after alighting the minibus, you will see a stone-fortified, arched red structure bearing the sign “Shing Mun Country Park” and the outer grassy slope of Pineapple Dam behind it. Walk up the short flight of stairs to your right until the reach the Shing Mun Country Park Visitor Centre, where you will find maps and information boards about the hikes in the country park, as well as a number of exhibitions introducing the area’s rich history, war relics, ecological features, and more. Do take a thorough browse, as it’s always a good idea to soak up a bit of knowledge and learn about the sights you are about to see beforehand.
Upon exiting the centre, you can officially hit the trail. Right of the bat, you will encounter some gentle inclines in the form of broad and gradual steps. Once you get past this first stretch, it’s pretty much a breeze from there on out. Around five minutes into the trail, you will come across a junction that gives way to some 100 steps leading up to Butterfly Paradise. Feel free to take a detour into the small garden to appreciate the assortment of colourful flowers and elegant, winged critters, but once you have taken your snaps, remember to retrace your steps to the main route—otherwise, you may risk accidentally veering off onto the Lung Mun Country Trail.
Continuing the lakeside trail should be relatively straightforward as there is only one clear path. Along the way, you will periodically catch glimpses of the Shing Mun Reservoir through leafy boughs, taunting you with little teasers of the breathtaking beauty that lies ahead. There are also several picnic sites where hikers can take a rest and fuel up on snacks and water. In theory, you could lay out a whole spread on the wooden tables but be warned of the hundreds of monkeys that roam freely around Shing Mun Country Park. As adorable as their furry faces may seem, they are notorious for snatching food from hikers. So perhaps save the picnic for another day!
Alternating between dirt and concrete, parts of the trail get a little narrow as you hike further north, but never so that it would pose any significant challenge. After 30 minutes or so, you will start to see some small, trickling streams—this is when you should keep an eye out for the notches on your right that take you down to the reservoir.
Carefully climb down to the shore and you will arrive at the star attraction of the hike—the paperbark grove. Comprising endless rows of tall, cylindrical paperbark trees with their giant exposed roots growing all over the banks—as well as expansive views overlooking tranquil, azure waters—the surreal setting evokes the alluring magic of an enchanted forest. Take your time soaking in your surroundings and capturing the scenery from every angle.
When you are done exploring the area and its natural beauties, simply climb back up to the trail and proceed in several different ways. Ready to call it a day? Simply return to the minibus terminus by backtracking through the same route. If you want to make a full trip out of your visit, trek on for another 20 minutes until you reach the end of the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail, where a concrete driveway connects to Shing Mun Reservoir Creek. From there, follow the signage leading to the main dam and make your way around the reservoir’s perimeter. This will offer you a few extra hours to admire the reservoir’s striking beauty before returning to the starting point!