Header image courtesy of @mr_wongfs (via Instagram)
Hiking is a physical activity that is easy to get into. Whether you are finally getting up from the sofa or booked on weekends attending workout classes, there’s a hike for everyone! With Hong Kong’s unique system of countless intertwined routes, hikers can plan based on their experience and goals. If you are looking to gradually trek your way into hikes with inclines, you could try to take on the Sheung Yiu Country Trail in Sai Kung—here is our guide to the hike.
Sheung Yiu Country Trail (上窰郊遊徑), merging with Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail (北潭涌自然教育徑), starts near the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum. The hike begins with a precipitous climb—you’ll have to power through a couple of flights of stairs—that’ll be worth it after taking a rest at the hike’s lookout points.
Here, you’ll enjoy the breeze of fresh air and 360-degree views that look across to neighbouring islands and geological sites—Tai Tau Chau, Kau Sai Chau, and High Island Reservoir (East Dam). Despite the fact that the walking path is sandwiched by trees and wildflowers, be sure to wear long sleeves and sunscreen to fight the sunrays. The trail is typically used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.
Distance: 4.3 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 116 meters approx.
Total time: 1 hour approx.
Walk along Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail for no longer than an hour. At the end of the trail—passing by Sheung Yiu Folk Museum and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows—continue walking on the path until you see a flight of stairs on your left. This precipitous climb is the beginning of the Sheung Yiu Country Trail. When you’re on the steps, you’re rocking an inclination of around 75 metres that eventually flattens out to a steady inclination.
The hike has several lookout points. The first one is over the neighbouring island, Kau Sai Chau, 400 metres after the starting point and at an elevation of 68 metres. The next one is over both Kau Sai Chau and Tai Tau Chau, a little over a kilometre after the previous lookout point and at an elevation of 84 metres. The last is over High Island Reservoir (West Dam) and the Chong Hing artificial lake, towards the end of the trail and at an elevation of 82 metres.
Kau Sai Chau, formerly known as Keui Island, is connected to Yim Tim Tsai in the north by a breakwater. When hiking there, its maximum elevation is 216 metres. The island contains Hong Kong’s only public golf course—The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course. Getting to the island, you’ll need to catch a ferry from Sai Kung town.
Tai Tau Chau, also known as Urn Island, is a hotspot for abseiling. If bouldering indoors is too mellow for your liking, perhaps consider taking it outdoors on this island, climbing on life-size rocks with the water lapping at the shore behind you.
Each region has its own pier and this pier belonged to the village of Sheung Yiu. Villagers held meetings here, collected shellfish on the nearby pebble beach, and caught ferries to and from Sai Kung. Although, the pier is in disuse today, it continues to tell the stories of the villagers—by inviting visitors to observe the still waters that were once filled with life.
The High Island Reservoir (West Dam) can be observed at the end of the trail at Man Yee Road. Hikers can also take a closer look at the dam from the High Island Reservoir Siphone Spillway (萬宜水庫鐘形虹吸排水口), a five-minute walk from Man Yee Road.
You can also rest at the Yuet Ming Pavillion, a 30-minute walk from the end of the trail, and appreciate the majestic dam from another angle. Both dams contain the High Island Reservoir, holding the greatest amount of water in Hong Kong. The construction was completed in 1971 and lasted for seven years.
If you enjoyed the views from the West Dam, you are going to be floored by the sights offered by the East Dam. The East Dam of the High Island Reservoir is part of the Hong Kong Global Geopark—the only part that is reachable by foot—where you can touch the hexagonal rock columns, appreciate the sea cave, and walk along the road above the sea barrier. Read our full guide here.
How these rocks can freeze movement into place to form straight as well as curved lines and into such columns is incredible—to think that Hong Kong had a geological past that involved volcanic eruptions is bizarre! “Internationally rare, acidic polygonal volcanic rock columns” are what geological experts call these hexagonal columns.
Formed over 100 million years ago, these columns are made of cooled-down molten materials and is one of nature’s many wonders that we get to enjoy locally. These columns are open, exposed, and free to touch. However, despite how resilient nature is and its ability to withstand the test of time, we ought to respect the natural landscape when visiting.
The High Island Reservoir contains one of only a small number of sea caves in Hong Kong, making it one of Hong Kong’s most magnificent geological sites. When you first enter the area, it’s hard to miss this sea cave—especially when the sight of it is so rare. Visitors can observe and take a closer look by walking along the wooden boardwalk.
We recommend you to take the time to read the informational stands that are both eye-opening and educational. Similarly, you can find another geological gem on Basalt Island. Although these gems are rare in our city, they are not impossible to reach.
If you’ve still got the energy, you can continue hiking from the East Dam of the High Island Reservoir to Long Ke Wan for a dip in its clear waters. 30 minutes on the Maclehose Trail Section 1 and you’ll arrive at the hidden beach. Click here for our full guide.