Think Hong Kong is all towering skyscrapers and big city bustle?
Well that just ain’t so, Suzie. Around 40 percent of HK territory is verdant parkland, criss-crossed with walking trails that make for top trots in the cooler winter and autumn months.Here’s a roundup of our favourite hikes, from gentle meanders to true off-road rumbles. And while we can’t always promise respite from the selfie stick-wielding wanderers, we can promise you plenty of jaw-dropping vistas and thigh-busting workouts. Limber up!
Avoid the world and his wife vying for Vicky’s stagger panoramas, and make your way up The Peak via one of her lesser-known walkways.
To wend your way up our favourite passage – the Morning Trail – start on the corner of Kotewall and Conduit Rds, skipping up the steep, winding incline of Hatton Rd for half an hour until you reach the small park on Lugard Rd. Here, you can join the Peak’s oft-mobbed, flat, circular amble for unfettered views across the territory. Although, you may want to avoid the tacky Peak Galleria, which you will eventually come upon whichever way you turn.
Or, for something a little different, we suggest veering off on the Pinewood Battery route from the same starting point for a glimpse of the WWII relics on your way up. Da bomb, literally.
Tai Tam Reservoir
If you’re looking for a hike that’s more downward dog than uphill slog, Tai Tam Reservoir is one of Hong Kong’s most pleasant trails, with terrain friendly enough for families with tots in tow.
Starting at Wong Nai Chung Gap, begin a p-leisurely one-hour meander towards the island’s south shores through a maze of gentle shrubbery, kicking off with beautiful scenes over surrounding plains and the glittering emerald reservoir.
The trail is intercepted midway by Tai Tam Reservoir Rd, where you can park your bot in the lovely picnic grounds and take in your surroundings with a delicious pre-packed snack. Don’t mind if I do!
The Twin Peaks
Think you’ve got what it takes to discipline this overgrown, temperamental pair? Hong Kong’s Twin Peaks serve up the island’s toughest odyssey that’ll have even the most seasoned sitter running for the door.
Begin your two-three hour journey at Wong Nai Chung Gap with a brisk waddle up to Parkview to commence the Wilson Trail. Wind through Violet Hill, dotted with budding Chinese Bell Flowers, before making your way down into Tsin Shui Wan Au for a breather at the junction.
Now, prep those perfect pins for a hefty incline up one thousand gruelling steps where you’ll be rewarded with splendid views over Stanley’s south side, and Tai Tam’s emerald blue at the second. Ta-da!
After a 20-30 minute decline, leave the trail at Stanley Gap to hail a cab into town. Needless to say, most of Stanley’s sup spots are packed (and feral), but if you must eat, alfresco Spiaggia(92B Stanley Main St, +852 2813 7778) packs the requisite punch.
Itching for a cardio kick? Get high on the trail leading up to Hong Kong’s second highest peak, Lantau.
Steep inclines and unevenly placed steps designed for dainty feet make this one of the more challenging trails, but a bounty of cultural treasures sprinkled along way make it well worth the climb.
Take the MTR to Tung Chung station, followed by the 3M bus, and jump off at Pak Kung Au to begin your scenic saunter up to the summit on trail stage three. Unrivaled 360° views over the surrounding islands, glorious Shek Pik Reservoir and Tian Tan Buddha perched atop his mountain will be your reward.
Down the even steeper decline you’ll graze the Wisdom Path, before descending into charming Ngong Ping village for a potter through the idyllic tea garden.
You’ve seen Hong Kong’s courtyard and her patio, but what about her backyard? Probe deep into Sai Kung’s verdant valleys for the daddy of intrepid adventures and emerge with glutes close to godly.
The action-packed, 10-course MacLehose Trail is a spectacular 100km rollercoaster from Pak Tam Chung to Tuen Mun, winding through the Kowloon mountains, Shing Mun reservoir, eight lush country parks, a jumble of secret beaches, woody enclaves and ace waterfalls. What was once used by Gurkhas for military training is now the stomping ground for the annual Oxfam Trailwalker, so hover in the earlier phase of the trail unless you’ve prepped for full-body furore.
Take bus 92 from Diamond Hill MTR (exit C2) to Sai Kung town, and hop in a green cab to Pak Tam Chung station, stroll on for 5 minutes until you reach Tai Mong Tsai Rd, where you’ll hit the start of the trail. Take a hike!
This post originally appeared on PenCities Hong Kong on 15 February 2016.