If you think that Hong Kong is simply a concrete jungle populated by numerous skyscrapers, you will be surprised to learn that this crowded metropolis also has within its boundaries several verdant country parks. Hong Kong’s twenty-four country parks offer a varied landscape such as isolated sandy beaches, rugged coastlines, lush woodlands and tall mountain ranges.
Hiking is a favored past time in Hong Kong and the SAR’s residents routinely navigate the SAR’s many hiking trails to become one with nature as they try to escape the pressures of the day to day living.
The Morning Trail
The Morning trail is an easy to access hiking trail in Hong Kong. If you are visiting Hong Kong and staying on Hong Kong Island, you can choose to ascend the trail from within the Mid-levels either at the junction of Hatton Road and Kotewal Roads near the University of Hong Kong. An alternative approach to the trail is to take a ride up Hong Kong’s landmark Central Mid-Levels escalator to Conduit Road and then walk up to Kotewal Road and then Hatton Road.
The approximately one-hour long ascend to the top of Victoria Peak, Hong Kong’s famed attraction leads hikers past grassy knolls dotted with wildflowers and sparkling streams and attractions like the Pinewood Battery. The Pinewood Battery is a historic lookout point, which once helped to provide safe passage for ships passing through Victoria harbor. Once you reach the Peak, you can take in stunning vistas of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong and other sights like the lush Pok Fu Lam reservoir and even the Kowloon Peninsula and Lamma Island in the distance.
Hikers can even take the downhill approach to the Morning Trail by starting off at Harlech Road near the Peak Tram Station. They then can proceed by walking down steep Lugard Road onward to the Pinewood Battery and Hatton Road Fitness trail.
The Bowen Road Walking Trail
This city trail is not actually a hiking path rather a four-kilometer (2.5 mile) long, leafy trail carved into the hillside. The trail can be approached from various directions within the Mid-Levels area of Hong Kong. A walk up the incredibly steep Wan Chai Gap Road leads you onto the trail though easier entryways are available near the junction between Robinson Road and Garden Road and from Stubbs Road in the eastern half of the Mid-Levels.
This flat, paved path offers incredible views of Hong Kong Island and offers walkers, a chance to explore points of interest like the Bowen Road Park and Lover’s Rock. The last mentioned sight is a tall phallus-shaped boulder revered by unmarried women, who visit the promontory and make offerings of flowers, joss sticks and even wine bottles as they pray at the rock for a good husband.
Dragon’s Back Ridge
Hailed by Time Magazine (Asia) as one of the ‘best urban hikes’, the Dragon’s Back Ridge is one of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong. This hiking trail is located within the southern half of Hong Kong Island and is known to be `very scenic.
The Dragon’s Back Ridge is a ridge that is located within the Shek O Country Park between Wam Cham Shan and Shek O Peak. The hike up Dragon’s Back Ridge forms a part of the longer Hong Kong trail and it can be approached from two directions.
The first approach is from the Shau Kei Wan MTR station, from here you have to board the number 9 minibus and get off at To Tei Wan village. The entrance to the hike starts here and you need to follow the signs up the ridge or the Dragon’s Back located at a height of 284 meters.
The ridge offers scenic views of the lush southern Hong Kong landscape and the South China Sea. At the trail’s finish line, you will arrive at a bus stop from where you can take a bus back to the north of the island or go south to Shek O beach where some good restaurants and bars await you.
The second approach to the trail is from the last MTR stop of the Island line at Chai Wan (Exit A). Once you get here (by MTR or taxi), you need to walk up a long, flight of stairs through Cape Collinson Cemetery and walk onwards on to Tai Tam Gap road and the climb onto Dragon’s back ridge.
Lamma Island trail
Lamma Island, a large, outlying island of Hong Kong is known for its laid-back vibe. Once the abode of hippies this car-free island today is a popular haunt of one day visitors. The best way to explore Lamma Island is to walk its relatively easy family trail that connects its two main villages, Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. The trail is paved and meanders over gentle inclines and along beaches affording glorious views. At the end of the trail lies the seaside village of Sok Kwu Wan renowned for its excellent seafood restaurants.
To get to Lamma Island, you can take a regular ferry from Hong Kong’s Central ferry pier. For your return journey, you could either take the ferry back to Central or take a ferry from Sok Kwu Wan to Aberdeen, on the Southside of Hong Kong Island.
The Lantau Trail
At 934 meters above sea level, the Lantau Peak is the second tallest hill in Hong Kong. Various hiking trails crisscross Lantau Peak, home of Hong Kong’s famed attraction the Big Buddha. Visitors to Hong Kong especially enjoy ascending the peak in the early hours of the morning, in order to get a stellar view of the Buddha at sunrise. The trail is paved most of the way, though it is steep and its stone steps are quite difficult to navigate at any time of the day, even then the trail is one of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong. The best way to access the Lantau Trail is to get the MTR to Tung Chung and then take a bus to Mui Wo at the base of the Lantau Peak.