Hong Kong hiking: Tai Mo Shan

The summit of Hong Kong’s highest mountain is a wonderful place to visit on days of clear weather. On your way up and down, you enjoy bird’s-eye views of the valleys of the New Territories, and the ridges of mountains which separate the area from Kowloon.

This walk involves some sustained climbing and passes through uninhabited areas, so is suitable only for fit adults. Time required: 5-6 hours.

Take the MTR to Tai Po Market station and find green minibus 23K. The bus drives up through the Wun Yiu valley, and terminates before it reaches the highest point of the road. Get off here, just past San Uk Ka village, and carry on walking uphill.

You’re on the Wilson Trail here. This rises up to Lead Mine Pass, which is a common way up to Tai Mo Shan. But you can take an alternative route which passes through less-walked forest. Bear right instead of left when the road reaches a rain shelter, and follow the signs marked for Yuen Tun Ha. This is a wide, stony track through the trees. After passing some farmhouses on your left, you reach the lonely ancestral hall of the Wong clan, and here the track ends. Your route now continues on a narrow path through the forest.

This is a lovely hiking trail of stones, tree roots, bamboo and lichen-covered rocks. Higher up the hill, you pass through the eerily overgrown houses of Yin Ngam, and eventually you rise above the tree line to emerge onto a grassy hillside. From here, you can look straight down at Tai Po and Tolo Harbour.

The path is a bit harder to follow through the long grass, but at each fork, bear left. You soon step out onto the MacLehose Trail, and the high radar domes of Tai Mo Shan are clearly visible. Turn right and follow the trail. It leads you through henge-like groupings of tall stones. You may meet a herd of wild cattle happily grazing the grass beside the path. Look south to see the familiar shape of Lion Rock on the horizon.

It’s not long until you join an old military road, and this winds up to the very top of Tai Mo Shan, passing an abandoned British Army facility on the way. Just a bit further on, you may see PLA soldiers playing basketball in the grounds of their radar station on the peak. And then the road turns downhill and winds slowly back and forth to bring you down to the barrier gate. People are usually out here to enjoy the wide-open view across Shek Kong all the way out to Yuen Long.

From the country park visitor centre, a path leads you quickly down to Route Twisk and the bus stop. Bus 51 from the near side of the road will carry you back to the MTR at Tsuen Wan.

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