Header images courtesy of Grace Chong and @urvilography (via Instagram)
In our opinion, the start of any good hike will have you wondering if it is worth it—the sweat, the burning calves, the branches that whack you in the face if you’re not careful and the rocks that get stuck in your shoes... With its many inclines and declines, followed by paths with trees and bushes threatening to consume the trail, Robin’s Nest is no different, and yet, the view at the top of the apex, with Hong Kong to one side and Shenzhen to the other, makes this a popular trail amongst seasoned and adventurous hikers. Aside from its close proximity to the border (wave to your family and friends in Shenzhen!), the rolling hills, marked paths, and intersections to explore the Lin Ma Hang lead mine caves will satiate any travel bug you may have. Follow our guide and wander to the edges of Hong Kong for a monster hike!
As of June 2019, Robin’s Nest has been designated a country park, marking a huge victory for historic preservationist, environmentalist, and conservationist efforts. Standing at 492 metres above sea level, Robin’s Nest is the highest peak in northern New Territories and boasts a bird’s-eye view of Sha Tau Kok and farmlands on the Hong Kong side, and the Shenzhen metropolis on the other side.
Robin’s Nest Country Park hosts over 650 species of animals and plants, including the endangered Chinese grassbird—90 percent of its population living in the park. The ecological significance of Robin’s Nest makes this hike excellent for those who are scientifically or environmentally curious! Aside from biodiversity, the hills and valleys that make up the country park also host hidden pockets of World War II and mining relics, with abandoned war shelters and houses along the way for exploration.
Tips for this hike: Aside from the general hiking advice, do wear long pants and consider bringing gloves and a hiking stick. The path through the mountains are relatively overgrown and holds a high potential of cutting and scratching your legs. Likewise, the ascents will require gripping at long grass and branches or tree trunks for balance, and descending on the mountain tops means shuffling down dusty paths that flat running shoes may struggle to find grip on. Come prepared!
Distance: 7 kilometres approx.
Difficulty: Intermediate to difficult
Total ascent: 492 metres approx.
Total time: 4.5 to 5 hours approx.
The journey to the start of the Robin’s Nest trail is a little over an hour, with a long bus ride from Sheung Shui Station, and a short trek around Tam Shui Hang village. However, friendly hikers and villagers have left helpful signs along the way, and minibus drivers who are familiar with the trail are always willing to give you a heads-up on where to get off.
Follow the road to the right of the bathroom by going underneath the village sign, and helpfully marked by previous hikers. Do not cross the street—instead, keep walking past the next Tam Shui Hang road sign, also helpfully marked as the direction for the start of the trail. You will walk uphill past some village houses and the start of the trail begins abruptly to your left once the path flattens out. The entrance is marked with ribbons and a plastic sign that emphasizes the importance of environmental protection and proper pandemic etiquette on the hike. There are two entrances right next to each other, so take your pick!
The overall trail is relatively straightforward and marked with laminated maps and ribbons. The start of the trail has a few abandoned World War II trenches and a resting platform with a view of Shenzhen. In the middle of the first set of stairs will be another resting platform with a road marker, overseeing a view of Sha Tau Kok and the ocean. The Robin’s Nest hike continues until an upward climb before arriving at a transformer with plastic chairs left by hikers for a rest. There’s a great view of Shenzhen to enjoy before continuing your hike underneath the transformer.
At the first fork in the road, marked by a tree with a ripped laminated map tied to its trunk, take the path to the left. A tree is helpfully marked with “紅花嶺” in red ink. The path becomes relatively steep with nylon and plastic ropes and tubing tied along the side for support. Don’t put your whole weight on the ropes, though! At the top of the 10-minute climb is an abandoned pavilion with a view of Shen Zhen and a laminated map detailing optional paths.
For Robin’s Nest, take the path to the left (“through” the doors), where a laminated arrow has been helpfully tied next to a small, run-down covered area. This next stretch will bring you past two World War II hideouts, and two abandoned houses that you can walk through or around. The road will climb upwards and at the apex, the path seems to split into three roads. Take the middle and largest path going forward, which will take you through a stretch with tight tree and bush coverage. Follow the ribbons for directions!
There will be two more peaks to climb to through a forest-like covered area before the path opens up for the rest of the hike. After the second peak, as you continue forward, be mindful of hikers going in the opposite direction as the path continues as a ridge along the side of a hill and is sandy. You will ascend a summit that is called Hung Fa Chai, made obvious by the steep scramble during the last 10 metres of upwards stretch. Do not hesitate to crawl up on all fours—it’s a challenging portion of the hike.
At the top, there will be a path that opens up immediately to your right—do not go that way, as it will take you towards the Shenzhen border. Instead, head towards your left, which you involve you hopping over a boulder and 2 potholes before the path flattens out.
At this point, the path is relatively straight forward, save for some downward and dusty slopes that will require some shuffling. There will be a junction at which the path either wraps around the peak or heads upwards—head up the slope and continue until you arrive at an apex with another black and white marker. You’ve arrived at Robin’s Nest!
If you want to keep exploring, go back down the same slope you ascended to reach the apex of Robin’s Nest. Instead of climbing the path in front of you, take the flight of rocky stairs to your immediate left (if your back is to Robin’s Nest) for Lin Ma Hang.
To leave, take the path headed downwards towards the transformer at the base. It’s a pretty rocky and dusty road, but it will end up connecting onto a paved road. It’s about an hour or so to the bottom before the exit appears to your immediate right, leading you onto Wo Keng Shan Road. Take a left and go forward for 15 to 20 minutes towards Loi Tung Village on Sha Tau Kok Road. There will not be any roads to cross aside from getting to the bus stop and the village entrance. You can catch either bus 78K or minibus 55K to get to Fanling Station or Sheung Shui Station.