Hong Kong: Hiking in the New Territories

Dragon's Back, (photo by Alex Havret)
Dragon's Back

Today, participants are gearing up for the start of tomorrow's MoonTrekker, a testing night-time endurance race on the Hong Kong island of Lantau. One of Hong Kong’s greatest assets is its mountainous countryside, and the open grassy hills of the outlying islands and the New Territories offer superb hiking opportunities.


The centre of Lantau is dominated by lofty mountains, notably Lantau Peak (934 metres/3,064 ft) and Sunset Peak (869 metres/2,851 ft), criss-crossed with wandering pathways and dusty trails linking a number of Buddhist monasteries. The 70-km (43-mile) Lantau Trail and other intersecting side routes are great for a short stroll, a day trip or overnight trek. A particularly good hike circles the 20,900-million-litre (5,500-million-gallon) Shek Pik Reservoir, on the western slopes of Lantau Peak. Alternatively, a coastal path runs from Shek Pik round to Tai O. 

The New Territories

The New Territories’ countryside remains largely empty. With its steep peaks, deep valleys and ocean views, it epitomises the Chinese term for “landscape” – shan shui, literally “mountains and water”. The landscape is criss-crossed with numerous hiking trails, varying from family walks to signposted nature trails to rugged upland and coastal hikes leading into areas where one rarely sees another soul. Excellent public transport makes access quite easy.

From the Shing Mun Valley, a 14-km (9-mile) hike takes you up and across impressive boulder slopes, past the massive summit of Tai Mo Shan, and down through the lush and beautiful Pak Nga Shan Valley – site of Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden.

The ideal hike on the Sai Kung peninsula is the route that connects Sharp Peak with Tai Long Wan, a circular route of about 15 km (9.5 miles). Noodle shops in a few places offer welcome refreshment, and the clean beaches are great for swimming.

The hike up and over the Pat Sin Leng range is only about 10km (6 miles), but the distance can be misleading. Here a series of sharp up-and-down peaks mark a dramatic, airy ridgeline, with the views sweeping south towards Hong Kong and north into China proper.

The MacLehose Trail

For the ambitious, the MacLehose Trail crosses the entire width of the New Territories, extending from Sai Kung for some 100km (62 miles) through mostly open country across the high grassy hills as far as Tuen Mun. The trail is well marked, and there are places to camp along the way. Some parts are ex­tremely steep and hard-going, but anyone who is used to hiking should have no problems tackling the shorter sections or any of the other walks in this area. Meanwhile, the Wilson Trail (70km/44 miles) runs north from Stanley on Hong Kong Island to the Pat Sin Leng range.


For more information on hiking in Hong Kong and lots more, check out our fantastic Hong Kong City Guide.