Header image courtesy of @arransaunders97 (via Instagram)
Last time we introduced a low-risk, high-reward hike in the form of Lung Ha Wan Country Trail on the eastern tip of Clear Water Bay Country Park. If you’re up for a challenge, it’s time to tackle one of the three sharpest peaks in Hong Kong: High Junk Peak! It’s a high-risk hike with even higher rewards, taking you along some of the most picturesque vistas this city has to offer and ending at an idyllic fishing village.
At an elevation of 344 metres, you’ll be getting a bird’s-eye view of eastern New Territories. This striking emerald peak rises from the crystal-clear waters of the aptly-named Clear Water Bay and is often seen in the background of junk boat parties and Clear Water Bay Beach snaps. On a clear day, you may even observe ICC and IFC in the distance from the highest point.
The hike begins at Ng Fai Tin, where a rest pavilion and a long flight of steps will greet you as you arrive. If you’re unsure where you are, there is a signpost with a detailed map to assure you that this is the start of the High Junk Peak Country Trail. There is no refuel stop before you start your ascent so be sure to stock up on supplies. You’ll get to rest when you reach Po Toi O, a small fishing village in the southern edge of the Clear Water Bay Peninsula that’s famous for its seafood restaurants and its appearance in Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life.
We would recommend High Junk Peak for a solid intermediate level hiker, or an earnest beginner seeking a tough workout. The first part of the trail, which intersects with the High Junk Peak Mountain Bike Trail that’s open on weekdays, is shaded and well-maintained.
There is no concrete on any section of the trail, which adds to the wild feel of this trek. As you approach the first plateau before High Junk Peak, the path begins to get rocky and sandy, and even muddy if it’s rained recently, so shoes with proper grip are recommended. As we’ve mentioned before, there is no refuel stop at the start of the trail, so two to four litres of water is a must.
There is no shade throughout after you emerge from the bamboo forest, so if you’re hiking on a sunny day, adequate sun protection is also a must. While the trail does get achingly steep, you’ll find gentle retreat points along the eight kilometres to stretch and regroup.
Distance: 8 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 344 metres
Total time: 2.5 to 4 hours approx.
The start of High Junk Peak Country Trail is located at Ng Fai Tin, serviced by a bus stop and free parking space. Those who have done Lung Ha Wan Country Trail will recognise the bus and minibus routes, as Ng Fai Tin is on the way to the start of that trail.
When you alight from your chosen mode of transport at Ng Fai Tin, you are greeted with a green tile-roofed pagoda and a flight of stairs that lead up to dense backcountry. The steps up are relatively gentle; simply follow the mountain ridge uphill with a cool (in terms of both temperature and awesomeness) bamboo forest engulfing you on both sides. The signs along the way will help you navigate the many forks in the road that line the trail, though they mark the way to High Junk Peak as Tai Miu.
When you finally catch a glimpse of the magnificent view that surrounds you, after 30 to 45 minutes of a tame forest walk, you might find yourself surprised by the contrast of the industrial Tseung Kwan O area and the sublime coastline and mountains that make up the peninsula. This plateau, more commonly known as Sheung Yeung, will be the last break you get before you attempt the twin peaks of Miu Tsai Tun and High Junk Peak.
From here, you’ll have High Junk Peak in your sights, as the singular pyramid-esque peak really does command your attention with only the blue skies around it. About 10 minutes ahead, you’ll see another signpost. Take the left fork to continue up the easy ascent to Miu Tsai Tun.
You’re getting closer to High Junk Peak when you reach Miu Tsai Tun, which sits at 333 metres above sea level, and the path starts to get a bit precarious from here on out. Enjoy the sights of Sheung Sze Wan below as you head downhill to a brief valley where the trail starts getting sandy, and prepare yourself to brave the steep gravel incline up to High Junk Peak. It’s okay if you need to clamber here, and it would be wise to rally your hiking buddies together to pull each other up. You’re almost there!
After 20 minutes, you’re finally here! Standing at 344 metres above the glittering South China Sea, High Junk Peak is a relentless summit that has unparalleled views of Joss House Bay, Clear Water Bay Country Club, the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean, and more. For the best pictures, climb over to the other side of the peak, where great boulders jut out as the perfect viewpoint. It’s so peaceful at the top, you can forget the hustle and bustle of daily life, even if it’s just temporarily.
If you’re really tired after scampering up High Junk Peak, you can finish earlier instead of continuing on to Tin Ha Shan and Po Toi O. After you descend High Junk Peak and reach the junction near distance post C3106, follow the sign to Clear Water Bay Road. It’s about a 20-minute walk to the closest bus stop from here.
The hike continues on the path to the right, down another arduous loose gravel path. Clamber carefully—you’re only halfway through the entire hike and it wouldn’t be fun going on to your final destination with a busted knee. Thankfully, it starts getting tame as you follow a flight of stone steps off High Junk Peak. When you reach a spot where you’re likely to run into people flying their drones and model aircrafts, follow another flight of stone steps that’ll take you near the top of Tin Ha Shan.
Tin ha in Chinese means “the sky under your feet,” and it’s pretty accurate. From here you’ll have a glimpse of the landfill, a reminder that our precious countryside shouldn’t be taken for granted. The end is in sight as you descend through a couple more ups and downs overlooking Tung Lung Chau on the left and Tai Miu temple on the right. When you reach the end of the Country Park, turn left at the entrance of the Clear Water Bay Country Club. Follow Tai Au Mun Road to the left, then turn right at the junction of Po Toi O Chuen Road. This will take you down to the Po Toi O minibus station.
The name of Po Toi O literally translates to “sack bay,” reflecting the shape of the sleepy bay and surrounding land. Po Toi O village has more than two centuries worth of history and was only accessible by road until about 40 years ago. We highly recommend going to see the Tin Hau Temple at Po Toi O Village: Built in 1266, it is Hong Kong’s oldest and largest Tin Hau Temple, and it’s still in use by the local villagers, most of them indigenous Hakka people who still bear the family name Po.
Reward yourself after this challenging hike at the two seafood restaurants, Fat Kee and Seafood Islands. Choose from some of the freshest local seafood for an affordable, no-fuss meal atop plastic furniture. If you’re here on a weekend, it may be hard to get a table. Venture deeper into the village and you’ll find stalls selling dried seafood and, curiously enough, premium golf balls from the nearby Country Club fished out with the daily catches. Aside from the sounds of radio and mahjong, and the friendly chatter of the villagers, Po Toi O makes for the perfectly quiet and tranquil ending to your hike. Grab minibus 16 when you’re ready to break the spell of the idyllic fishing village.