Header image courtesy of @pamirikarakol (via Instagram)
Let’s be real—even if you think you’ve hiked every possible mountain in Hong Kong (a bit of a hyperbole, yes) there will still be some unexplored and untouched gems to add to your list. Perhaps you have all the scenic routes on Hong Kong Island and most of Kowloon checked off but how well do you know New Territories—Ma On Shan, in particular, and well, Pyramid Hill, to be specific?
Though this hike might quite literally take your breath away in its more strenuous and steep steps, you can have our word that Pyramid Hill and its rewarding views are definitely worth the climb. Follow our in-depth guide below for details on how to tackle Pyramid Hill, a route that starts in Ma On Shan and traverses the plateau of Ngong Ping before finally descending into Sai Kung.
It should come as no surprise that some of Hong Kong’s hikes are named after the shapes of its mountains; likewise, Pyramid Hill gets its name from its cone-like summit. As mentioned earlier, you will have to pass through the Ngong Ping tablelands to reach Pyramid Hill. Ngong Ping in Ma On Shan—not to be confused with that of Lantau Island—is one of few plateaus in Hong Kong and offers a perfect location for camping, as its grasslands are surrounded by low-lying shrubs and the land is generally flat.
Ngong Ping Campsite has 20 spots for tents and also some barbecue pits with benches and tables for a bonfire-like experience on a mountain. When nature calls, there is no need to hide amongst the shrubs—there are dry pit toilets available for privacy. For adrenaline junkies, Pyramid Hill is the place for paragliding and the panoramic views of Sai Kung Town and nearby hills will make you (even more) thankful you came because, in all honesty, who would want to miss a bird’s-eye view of Sai Kung?
Distance: 9.5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 574 metres approx.
Total time: 4.5 hours approx.
You can hike to Pyramid Hill from either Ma On Shan or Sai Kung Town, but for the purposes of our guide, we will start in Ma On Shan and end in Sai Kung. Our journey starts in Ma On Shan, a new town development along the eastern coast of Tolo Harbour in the New Territories. You can make your way to the start of the Ma On Shan Country Trail on foot, by village bus, or by taxi. If taking the village bus NR84—which we recommend—do note that departures are limited to 8 am, 9.30 am, and 10.30 am.
After alighting at Ma On Shan Country Park’s barbeque site, simply follow the signposting that says “Ma On Shan Country Trail.” Walking straight along the same path, you should see signs pointing towards Ngong Ping. Continue walking down the road until you reach a junction; turn right towards the car park.
You’ll reach a short flight of stairs—this right here is Hong Kong’s very own stairway to heaven (alright, alright, every hike is heavenly in Hong Kong). Here, the steps do gradually get steeper so it’s best not to use up all your energy from the start (a mistake many make—it’s hard to contain the excitement).
After the flight of stairs, you will come by a pavilion on your right. Turn left and follow the path of the MacLehose Trail (Section 4). It soon winds up into another flight of stairs. At the next junction, take the right fork towards Tai Shui Tseng, where things will get steep again—take your time and mind your pace. Like one wise clownfish said, “Just keep swimming,” and in our case, climbing!
Upon reaching signpost M082, you will have arrived at the tableland of Ngong Ping campsite—the perfect picnic spot! Spread out your picnic mat and unwind for as long as you please—just be sure to hold on tight to your munchies as there may be some guests coming over (cows!) for a bite or two. On a clear, visible day, you can look far into the West Dam of High Island Reservoir and right below sits Sai Kung Town (our finish point for the day). Contrary to paragliding at Shek O, Ngong Ping has a higher altitude and you’re rewarded with stunning views of Sharp Peak and nearby hills. Check off an item from your bucket list, maybe? But first, you will need to get a license for either single-wing or tandem flight (in which an instructor takes the steering wheel).
And now for the climax—Pyramid Hill will be right in front of you. To reach its summit, begin at the gentle ascent that will gradually have you clambering your way to the top (much like Sharp Peak). It might be prudent to bring gloves for this very purpose! Beautiful vistas stretch from Sai Kung all the way to Fo Tan, with Ma On Shan towering in front of you. After you are done marvelling at Hong Kong’s natural beauty, head down the narrow steps to descend. What comes now are mostly muddy stone steps leading downwards. You will pass a gorgeous bamboo forest and, continuing on, Chuk Yeung Road until you eventually reach a junction. Here, take left to go to Shui Long Wo Campsite until finally reaching the busy street of Sai Sha Road.
From Sai Sha Road, you can take bus 99 to head to Sai Kung Town and continue off your day by strolling through the streets lined with seafood restaurants—if you have any energy left in your legs, that is. You can also head to Sunny Day Organic Farm to pick some Hong Kong-grown veggies to cook your next meal. And if your thirst for adventure is just insatiable, you can also head to Sai Kung Pier and go island-hopping—the possibilities are endless! And finally, if you would like to call it a day, you can take bus 299X from O Tau New Village bus stop or Shui Long Wo bus stop from Sai Sha Road to go straight to Sha Tin Station.