Header image courtesy of @hayashihk (via Instagram)
New year, same old us—still hungry for another rewarding hike! Although the trials and tribulations that 2021 has in store for us remain to be seen, it’s safe to say that we will still be practising social distancing and work-from-home for the foreseeable future. Being in Hong Kong, we are blessed with beautiful ridges and undulating curves that enable us to escape the chaos, take a break, and breathe (yes, the year just started but cannot be the only ones wanting a break already!).
Today, we’re covering a hike that has quite a few names (but the same magnificent vistas!). Popularly known as Rooster Ridge or Mountain of Chicken—Kai Kung Leng (雞公嶺) in Cantonese—this hike offers expansive and lesser-known views of the New Territories and Shenzhen. On a clear day, you can even see the vast scale of Shenzhen from Lo Wu all the way to Nanshan! Follow our guide to hiking this underrated and less travelled peak.
First and foremost, the Rooster Ridge hike has little shade throughout the hike, so do not tempt the sun (because the sun will always win!). Be sure to smear yourself in an ample amount of sunscreen and carry enough water for the hike (and snacks, too, because this is a long hike and you will need that extra boost of energy). Side note: Rooster Ridge is famous amongst mountain bikers, but be sure to have the right gear and bike before deciding to cycle your way up to the summit.
Rooster Ridge may not be all that convenient to get to, but that should not steer one away from tackling this hill. The rare sights of Shenzhen’s skyline and the panoramic views of the New Territories make it all worthwhile. Depending on the season, the hill will be entirely covered in dried brown grass or lush green pasture. In high humidity, clouds even lower down and level with the summit (nope, you didn’t pass out and end up in heaven—it’s just the heavenly clouds, my friend). Winter is most recommended for tackling this hill as the heat of the summer makes it more strenuous due to the lack of shade.
Distance: 7.5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 572 metres approx.
Total time: 5 hours approx.
The starting point of the Rooster Ridge hike lies on Fung Kat Heung Road, which lies outside of the main town of Yuen Long. You will need to hop aboard a minibus from Yuen Long Station, which runs every 15 to 20 minutes. If you want to save your the energy for the hike, you can take a taxi to Fung Kat Heung Road from Yoho Mall (about $40).
After alighting the minibus, walk straight ahead but keep to the left. Shortly after, take the path by the electric pole, which is also on the left—you will see some electric cables hanging overhead. The initial section of the Rooster Ridge trail consists of wooden planks nailed to the ground, but some are missing or have become eroded, so mind your steps. The initial ascent is gradual and gentle. Within minutes, you will get glimpses of Yuen Long.
Here, you will reach a natural lookout pavilion (break time!). It offers fantastic views of Kam Tim, Yuen Long, and Nam Sang Wai, where deserted fishponds gleam marvellously under the sunset—it’s simply spectacular and truly a unique sight in Hong Kong. You also get a clear, visible view of the trail leading ahead and nearby hills like Kai Kung Shan (a shorter elevation), which is a secondary hill of Kai Kung Leng. Yes, the views may have you swept you off your feet, but much of the trail still remains. The uphill steps are quite steep but not too strenuous. This is where one can spot beautiful wildflowers, so keep your eyes peeled on the path (though the distant views sure will look tempting).
Continue your way up, where you’ll come by a radio station (and many clusters of rocks). Pass the range pole and keep on going. After small descents and ascents, you will reach the hilltop! You can slowly continue your way up a little to rest on the massive rock formations whilst admiring the glorious mountain you’ve just conquered. Now that you’re free of overhead cables, flying a drone will undoubtedly gift you some images worthy of National Geographic!
Go on, take as long as you need to fill your lungs with all that unpolluted air. And then it’s downhill from here (we only mean this in the literal sense!). Pick one of the three diverging paths ahead—they all lead to the same path eventually but these three paths differ in challenge and flatness. Going downhill is indeed the tricky bit, so make sure your hiking shoes have a good grip. Be careful of loose rocks here and there—there’s no concrete path just yet. Upon reaching the first concrete platform, you will see an abandoned military formation, then further downwards comes a second concrete platform. At the endpoint of the hike, there will be a bridge—go across and reach Fan Kam Road.
From Fan Kam Road, you can take bus 77K back to either Yuen Long or Sheung Shui—there are bus stops on either side of the road. You could wrap up your hike with a dinner in Yuen Long (Yoho Mall, perhaps?) or you can venture into Sheung Shui and explore its cafés and shops, especially if you’ve never been in the neighbourhood before.