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Tai Tong Nature Trail is a nice and easy path for new hikers, families with younger and older members, but also feeds into tougher trails that work up a sweat for more seasoned hikers. Although the area is largely known for its sweet gum trees during the fall-winter season, the hard work of conservationists and environmentalists have created a pocket of ecotopia, with plenty of rest spots to pause and take in a green view. Here’s how to hike the Tai Tong Nature Trail.
One of the distinctive characteristics of Hong Kong is its ability to co-exist with nature, largely thanks to the work of conservationists and environmentalists. Tai Lam Country Park, which houses the Tai Tong Nature Trail, is largely composed of granite, thus rendering it prone to erosion and degradation. After the construction of the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir in the 1950s, afforestation projects began the race to preserve the land and hills, successfully transforming the area into one of diversity. Plaques placed alongside the hike detail the environmental engineering it took to save the land, and include signage on the different types of plants and flowers that occupy the land. It’s a great way to honour the efforts of environmentalists and to encourage education for hikers.
Tai Tong Nature Trail makes up one of at least 10 trails and hikes in Tai Lam Country Park, excluding MacLehose Trail Sections 9 and 10. For the history lover, part of the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail overlaps with the nature trail, and for the adventurous, there are plenty of side trails to explore in the area.
Distance: 9 kilometres approx.
Total time: 4 hours approx.
Your journey to the Tai Tong Nature Trail starts at Long Ping Station near Yuen Long. After a bus ride on MTR bus K66 to Tai Tong Shan Road, you’ll start the hike with a nice and easy 30- to 40-minute uphill warm-up walk.
Despite its name, the stop is actually on Kiu Hing Road, with public bathrooms to the immediate right of the stop (if facing the road). Walk past the bathrooms towards the intersection of Kiu Hing Road and Tai Tong Road, and follow Tai Tong Road up to the right. At the first fork in the road, keep to the left, as the right leads into an eco-park.
Another major landmark you will pass is the Po Leung Kuk Jockey Club, before you round to a map board, which will have a set of stairs to its immediate left and signs indicating the direction for the sweet gum woods. Take the stairs up, which will lead you to the BBQ grounds, where there are public bathrooms, shaded areas, and picnic tables to catch your breath. There is also a beautiful view overlooking Yuen Long!
The Tai Tong Nature Trail is an easy, well-paved trail, with plenty of road signs when the path splits and educational plaques on the types of foliage and history of the trail. There are also multiple points at which you can enter and exit the trail, but the official starting point is at the far end of the BBQ area, relative to the public bathrooms.
The start of the trail will mostly be paved, before arriving at a flat area with a nice picnic table with a nice view of Yuen Long and a plaque on the history of the development of the area. Next to the picnic table are stairs that will bring you to a road running perpendicular to where you came from. This entire stretch of road is part of the Nam Hang Pai Traditional Footpath, which acted as a trade and transport link between Tsuen Wan and Yuen Long for agricultural goods and commodities. To the left, across a small footbridge, is the road to Nam Hang Pai. The path towards this small village runs alongside local farms and abandoned houses. This also serves as one of the early exit and entry points of the trail, with MTR bus K66 taking you back to Long Ping Station.
To the right is the path to the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir and Kat Hing Bridge. The journey there will take you past an old and small temple, most likely set up by locals. The nature trail eventually opens up for a paved road, at which you will keep to your left to find yourself at the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir and Kat Hing Bridge. There are also plenty of picnic benches and covered areas to rest at, and is the starting point to one of the mountain biking trails as well.
If you choose the cross Kat Hing Bridge, you’ll feed into MacLehose Trail Section 10, and be able to walk around Tai Lam Chung Reservoir. However, the paved road continues the rest of the Tai Tong Nature Trail, which will give you an overhead mountain view of Tai Lam and Tin Fu Tsai before bringing you to the sweet gum woods.
After the stretch of the sweet gum woods, follow the signs back towards the Tai Tong BBQ grounds, where you can follow Tai Tong Road back to catch a red minibus to Yuen Long or K66 back to Long Ping Station.
During autumn and winter, Tai Tong is best known for its sweet gum woods, which provide local tourists with a glimpse at breath-taking red, orange, and yellow seasonal foliage. Should you want to visit just that stretch and skip out on the Nature Trail, there’s an easy and fast way to get there as well. After you arrive at the Tai Tong BBQ grounds, instead of heading to the start of the Tai Tong Nature Trail, keep walking up Tai Tong Road. There will be a break in the road, with a car park to the far right and two parallel paths divided by a guard post.
Follow the path to the right of the guard post (the middle path) and continue up. As the road levels out, you will walk past the Tai Tong First Nursery before coming to a sign for the Tai Tong Nature Trail with a flight of stairs, along with smaller signs for the sweet gums, Tai Lam Chung Reservoir, and Tai Tong Valley. Keep going forward.
Pass the portable toilets and you will come across a stretch lined with sweet gum trees. If you’re aiming to capture that picturesque scene, the best time to go is towards the middle of December to the beginning of January. For a more year-round view, and for visitors looking to walk a little longer, rather than following the path past the portable toilets, take the road that splits off to the right, which will bring you towards Reservoir Island Viewpoint. There will also be the opportunity to take your hike towards Tai Lam Chung Reservoir.
There are a few benches at the Reservoir Island Viewpoint to stop and catch your breath (both from the stairs and from the view!). When you leave, you can either return from the direction you came from and catch MTR bus K66 at the bottom of Tai Tong Road, or head towards Wong Nai Tun Reservoir and exit via Yuen Long.