Hiking Destination Hong Kong & the Best HK Hikes

hiking in hong kong at night at victoria peak
  • 25
  • 1
  • 1
  •  
    27
    Shares

Hong Kong is known for its soaring skyscrapers and bustling city streets, but there’s also another side to this incredible city that can be explored when hiking in Hong Kong. Around 75% of Hong Kong’s geographic area is protected land, including rolling mountains and countryside. As a result, there are many gorgeous hiking trails located just next to this metropolis.

This article will cover what makes Hong Kong one of the best hiking destinations in Asia and possibly the world, what to expect in the different regions, and where to find the best hikes. We’ll also discuss opportunities for trail running in Hong Kong, a brief history of the area’s major long-distance trails, and the best time to visit.

Why Go Hiking in Hong Kong?

Hundreds of miles of trails

Hong Kong has hundreds of miles of trails to choose from, with numerous day hikes of varying lengths as well as several scenic long-distance trails. If you spend a month in Hong Kong, it’s possible to do a new day hike every single day if you want to!

hiking castle peak in hong kong

A unique convergence of urban and natural areas

There are many beautiful hiking destinations around the world, but very few are located so close to major urban centers. This feature is what makes Hong Kong such an exciting and unique hiking destination.

Hikes in Hong Kong provide a gorgeous contrast of crowded skyscrapers with lush forests and wild mountain landscapes. The proximity to the city means hikers will occasionally be bothered by smog and low visibility. Still, hikes in Hong Kong provide an incredibly unique experience that’s hard to find in most of the world’s popular hiking destinations.

Accessible trails

The mountains’ proximity to the city also makes hikes in Hong Kong very accessible. Hong Kong has an excellent public transportation system, which many say is one of the world’s safest and most efficient. Many of the region’s hiking trails are accessible via public transportation, making Hong Kong an excellent destination for travelers who want to combine city life with outdoor escapes.

Long hiking season

Hong Kong has very pleasant hiking weather for much of the year (excluding the hot and humid summer), with phenomenal hiking opportunities from October through April.

Excellent variety

Hong Kong boasts an incredible variety of trails within a small geographic area. From relaxed coastal walks to steep rock scrambles up towering peaks, there’s a trail in Hong Kong for hikers of every skill level.

Regions of Hong Kong

There are three main regions of Hong Kong: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. Each area contains lovely hiking trails and is worth a visit on your trip to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Island

Together with Kowloon, Hong Kong Island forms the city’s urban core. The island includes many of Hong Kong’s most famous sights, points of interest, and historical sites and is the city’s financial center. Hikes in this area are closely intertwined with the city. While they provide stunning views with the skyline as a backdrop, they do not offer the same natural escape that hikes further away from the center do.

Kowloon

Located just north of Hong Kong Island on the mainland, Kowloon is Hong Kong’s most populous urban area. The region is known for its shopping, nightlife, and museums, but there are also many excellent hikes nearby. Because the area is a gateway to the New Territories, it’s a great place to stay for hikers seeking a balance between outdoor adventures and urban exploring.

hong kong view from lion's rock

The New Territories and Outlying Islands

The New Territories are mostly located north of Kowloon and include Sai Kung peninsula and outlying islands like Lamma and Lantau. This region is known for its natural beauty and numerous parks, wetlands, and mountains.

Hikes in this area are a little harder to get to from the city center, but they are well worth the effort. Since the New Territories are further away from Hong Kong Central, hikes there usually offer a more wild experience, with many opportunities for off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Tips for Hiking in Hong Kong

Consider downloading the free Hiking Trail HK app

This mobile app features offline maps with contour lines for over 100 hiking trails in Hong Kong. The app supports drawing and sharing routes, calculating route length and elevation loss and gain, estimating hiking time, track logging, GPS location, deviation alerts, and more.

You can use the app anywhere without a data connection, making it an excellent choice for travelers and in areas with poor cell signal. To download the app and read more about its features, click here.

Check the Hong Kong Observatory website for weather updates

If you’d like to check the weather at your hiking destination, you can view live conditions through the Hong Kong Observatory website. Their series of live cams will show the current conditions. That way, you can decide whether it’s worth the trip or if an alternative destination would be more suitable.

Make sure you’re in good shape

Due to the area’s topography, many of the hikes in Hong Kong are very steep. If you want to enjoy some of Hong Kong’s most challenging trails and discover the best views, you’ll want to make sure you’re in good hiking shape before your trip. Check out our article about hiking exercises to learn how you can prepare physically for your adventure.

hiker in Hong kong with city in the background

Dress in layers

A good layering system is essential when hiking in Hong Kong. What kinds of layers you bring will depend on when you plan your trip. Rainfall is rare during the fall and winter, with humidity in Hong Kong at its lowest, but showers become more frequent in the spring. Whether you’re planning to hit the trails in November or in March, a rain shell will protect you in the event of a shower and keep you warm on chilly summits.

Below are the three key components of a layering system for outdoor activities like hiking. You can adjust the weight and thickness of each layer depending on the conditions in which you’ll be hiking.

  1. Base layer to wick sweat off of your skin. This layer can be a simple breathable t-shirt or a long-sleeved base layer.
  2. Middle layer to retain body heat, provide insulation, and protect you from the cold. You can skip this layer in warm conditions.
  3. Outer or shell layer to protect you from wind and rain. This layer can range from a heavy duty shell to protect from cold winds to a lightweight jacket to shield you from drizzling rain and breezy summits.

For more advice about how to pack for a hiking trip, take a look at our multi-day hiking packing checklist.

Trail Running in Hong Kong

In addition to hiking, Hong Kong offers excellent opportunities for trail running thanks to its mountainous terrain and well maintained trails. Whether you want to hit the trails for fun on your own or join a race or competition, you’ll find that Hong Kong has plenty to offer.

dragon's back Hong Kong

Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge

Each year during Chinese New Year, Hong Kong hosts a grueling three-day race called the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC). The race requires competitors to complete 298 kilometers (185 miles) in 60 hours or less and covers Hong Kong’s four major trails: the MacLehose Trail (100 km), the Wilson Trail (78 km), the Hong Kong Trail (50 km), and the Lantau Trail (70km).

Key Facts and Rules for the HK Four Trails Ultra Challenge

Length: 298 km

Start and finish: Tuen Mun to Mui Wo

Maximum elevation: 957 meters (Tai Mo Shan on the MacLehose Trail)

Minimum elevation: 0 meters

Total elevation gain: around 14,500 meters

  • The race was started by Andre Blumberg in 2012 to challenge the idea that running the four trails consecutively in such a short amount of time could not be done.
  • To put the difficulty of the HK4TUC in perspective, 298km is like running seven marathons back-to-back.
  • According to the event organizers, the total elevation gain experienced in the HK4TUC is 14,500 meters, which is nearly twice the height of Mount Everest.
  • Running the Four Trails is akin to climbing to the top of Everest from Base Camp more than three times!
  • Since the race is self-supported, there are no checkpoints or aid stations and support is forbidden on the trails. Runners may, however, get help traveling from one trail’s ending point to the starting point for the next. Participants are encouraged to use public transportation to travel between the trails.
  • The race begins in Tuen Mun in the New Territories and ends in Mui Wo at the green postbox in front of the ferry terminal on Lantau Island.
  • Competitors run each trail in reverse (traveling from the regular ending point to the trailhead).
  • Breaks for resting and sleeping are allowed, but the clock doesn’t stop.
  • Those who finish in 60 hours or less earn the title “finisher,” while those who finish in 72 hours or less are named “survivors.” Anyone who finishes beyond 72 hours is not recognized by the Challenge.
  • In 2021, the event is scheduled to begin on 13 February. Runners are allowed to participate only at the invitation of the founder.

Trail runners seeking a less intense challenge can enjoy shorter segments of these stunning trails on their own, or participate in one of Hong Kong’s other trail running races outlined in the section below.

For those interested in learning more about each component of the HK4TUC, here are more details about the individual trails.

MacLehose Trail

Length: 100 km

Start and finish: Tuen Mun to Pak Tam Chung

Maximum elevation: 957 meters (Tai Mo Shan)

Minimum elevation:  0 meters

Number of sections: 10

Total elevation gain: 5,050 meters

This challenging trail passes through some of Hong Kong’s most gorgeous landscapes and traverses some of its highest peaks. The varied terrain includes stunning coastline and beaches, jungles, forests, grasslands, and urban vistas. Runners must finish this section within 18 hours of starting the Challenge, otherwise they face disqualification from the competition.

Wilson Trail

Length: 78 km

Start and finish: Nam Chung to Stanley

Maximum elevation: 639 meters (Wong Leng)

Minimum elevation:  4 meters

Number of sections: 10

Total elevation gain: 4,125 meters

The Wilson Trail is the most technical route on the Four Trails Challenge, with many peaks and steep sections to navigate. The trail extends from the northern part of the New Territories to the southern end of Hong Kong Island and provides a mix of urban and rural landscapes. In this segment, competitors will find one of Hong Kong’s most notorious hikes – The Twins, which includes over 1,000 steps.

Hong Kong Trail

Length: 50 km

Start and finish: Tai Long Wan to The Peak

Maximum elevation: 477 meters

Minimum elevation:  6 meters

Number of sections: 8

Total elevation gain: 1,707 meters

This route passes through five country parks and traverses the entirety of Hong Kong Island. From beaches like Big Wave Bay to the famous Dragon’s Back hike, this section of the Challenge includes some of Hong Kong Island’s most stunning natural features. The route has been ranked among the world’s best city trails.

Lantau Trail

Length: 70 km

Start and finish: Mui Wo to Mui Wo

Maximum elevation: 934 meters (Lantau Peak)

Minimum elevation:  0 meters

Number of sections: 12

Total elevation gain: 3,520 meters

Runners must begin this section within 55 hours of starting the race, otherwise they are disqualified. The 70-kilometer loop trail climbs Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak, the second-highest and third-highest summits in Hong Kong. In addition to dramatic ridgelines and mountains, the trail also passes farmland and beaches.

Other Trail Running Races

For trail runners looking for a less demanding endeavor, there are many other trail running races and competitions besides the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge. In 2021, these include:

  • 2 January: Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan – 50km, 115km, or 162km
  • 15-16 January: Vibram Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail Race – 56km or 103km
  • 23 January: HK50 – Hong Kong Island – 24km or 50km
  • 6 February: MSIG Sai Kung 50 – 12km, 22km, or 54km
  • 19 March: Translantau – 16km, 25km, 50km, or 100km
  • 27 March: Mountain Range Trail Series Shatin 50 – 30km or 50km

History of the Four Trails

Although sections of Hong Kong’s trails have existed as informal village paths for centuries, the four major long-distance routes and many other hiking trails trace their roots to conservation efforts in the 1970s.

These efforts were led by British Colonial Governor Sir Murray MacLehose, known as the longest-serving governor of Hong Kong (1971-1982). MacLehose was an avid hiker and sought to protect Hong Kong’s countryside and expand recreational activities during his time in office.

In 1976, the Hong Kong Government enacted the Country Parks Ordinance and formed the Country Parks Board. The organization created a network of parks throughout Hong Kong and established many of the region’s long-distance trails.

In October of 1979, the government officially opened the MacLehose Trail and named it after the governor. Several years later, the Lantau Trail was opened in December of 1984, followed by the Hong Kong Trail in 1985.  Hong Kong’s final major long-distance trail – the Wilson Trail – was established nearly a decade later in January of 1996.

Today, there are 24 country parks in Hong Kong covering a total area of 440  km² – around 40% of Hong Kong’s total land area.

 

Best Time to Visit Hong Kong

Now that you know more about what Hong Kong has to offer when it comes to hiking and trail running, when should you plan your visit?

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, making the winter months ideal for hiking. With mild temperatures and little precipitation, a winter visit to Hong Kong will likely result in excellent hiking weather.

Although hiking is possible year round, most people find the summer months too hot and humid to hike and run comfortably. The summer months in Hong Kong can be very rainy, with May to September seeing tropical cyclones known as typhoons. As a result, the best time to go hiking and trail running in Hong Kong is from October to April.

October is still quite warm, with average high temperatures hovering around 28°C (82°F) and average lows hitting 24°C (75°F). November and April are slightly cooler, with lows around 20°C (68°F).

December to February is the coolest time of year, although temperatures rarely drop below freezing. During the winter months, average highs range from around 18 to 20°C (65 to 68°F) and lows range from 14 to 16°C (58 to 61°F).

While October to March sees little precipitation, there are more frequent rain showers as the spring progresses. If you’re hoping to stay dry on your hiking trip, your best best is to visit Hong Kong before the spring rains.

Best Hikes in Hong Kong

Dragon’s Back (Stage 8, Hong Kong Trail)

Distance: 8.5 km

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Region: Hong Kong Island

Known to be among the best hikes in the world, Dragon’s Back is one of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong. The trail provides stunning views of the city skyline, surrounding mountains, and coastline. Hikers can enjoy a swim at Big Wave Bay and relax on the beach after a fun day on the trail.

 

Sunset Peak (Stage 2, Lantau Trail)

Distance: 9 km

Time: 4.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Region: New Territories (Lantau Island)

As the name suggests, this hike offers incredible views at sunset. Sunset Peak is Lantau Island’s second-highest summit and is accessible via Stage 2 of the Lantau Trail. The hike features grassy plains, dense forests, and sweeping views of surrounding ridgelines, islands, and beaches.

Sharp Peak

Distance: 14.5 km (Tai Wan Beach Loop)

Time: 6-7 hours

Difficulty: Challenging

Region: New Territories

The views on this difficult hike in Sai Kung make it easy to forget how close you are to a densely populated city. From white-sand beaches and turquoise water to dramatic ridgelines and rolling green mountains, the path to Sharp Peak features numerous unforgettable vistas. The hike is known to be steep and treacherous at times, so make sure to wear good hiking boots or trail running shoes.

Lantau Peak

Distance: 8.7 km (West Dog’s Teeth Trail)

Time:  4-5 hours

Difficulty: Challenging

Region: New Territories (Lantau Island)

The summit of Lantau Peak is the second-highest point in Hong Kong and rewards hikers with mesmerizing mountain views. The West Dog’s Teeth Trail is a difficult ascent that requires some rock scrambling and a high level of physical fitness. For those seeking a shorter way up, Lantau Peak is also accessible via a 2.5-km out-and-back trail from Pak Kung Au.

Lung Ha Wan Country Trail

Distance: 6.5 km

Time:  2-3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Region: New Territories

Located in Clear Water Bay Country Park, this family-friendly hike is relatively easy and accessible. The trail offers scenic views of sea caves, islands, and even an ancient rock carving. From the highest point, a 290-meter peak called Tai Leng Tung, you can enjoy lovely views of the coastline.

Kowloon Peak to Suicide Cliff

Distance: 6.8 km

Time:  3-4 hours

Difficulty: Challenging

Region: Kowloon

This 6.8-km trail begins at Choi Hung MTR Station and includes two epic viewpoints in Hong Kong – Kowloon Peak and Suicide Cliff. Although the hike is less perilous than the name suggests, it’s not recommended for beginners. At times, the trail is steep and exposed, rock scrambling is required, and there are sections with loose gravel. Only those with good physical fitness and hiking experience should attempt the trail to Suicide Cliff due to the potential risks and dangers involved.

Suicide Cliff Hong Kong

Lion Rock Peak (Stage 5, MacLehose Trail)

Distance: 6.9 km

Time:  3-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Region: Kowloon

This steep, but short trail leads to a unique rock formation shaped like a lion’s head. The Lion Rock summit is a perfect spot to watch the sunset since it offers breathtaking views of Kowloon and Hong Kong Central. The well-maintained trail includes many staircases and is a safe hike for anyone with a decent level of physical fitness. Be careful when you reach the ridgeline at the top, as there are some large drop-offs.

Ma On Shan to Sai Kung Hike

Distance:  7 km (beginning at Ma On Shan Country Park)

Time:  4.5-5.5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Region: New Territories

Ma On Shan, which translates to Horse Saddle Mountain, is one of Hong Kong’s highest and most distinctive peaks. The area is known for its wildflowers, including rhododendrons, azaleas, and orchids.

The hike is relatively safe and does not have significant exposure or steep drop-offs like some of the other trails on this list. However, with nearly 600 meters of elevation gain, the Ma On Shan hike is physically demanding. Because of the steep sections on this trail, it’s best to hike it only in good, dry weather.

Victoria Peak Circle Walk

Distance: 4 km

Time:  1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Region: Hong Kong Island

This easy loop walk wraps around Hong Kong Island’s highest point and features spectacular views of Victoria Harbour, one of the most iconic sights in Hong Kong. Because you can take a bus or tram up to the peak, this walk is accessible to hikers of all skill levels and families with children. The view is gorgeous at sunset, but the path can get busy in the evenings.

Tai Long Wan (Stage 2, MacLehose Trail)

Distance: 12 km

Time:  5-6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Region: New Territories

This moderately challenging trail is perfect for those who want to escape the city and enjoy Hong Kong’s pristine coves and beaches. Hikers in Tai Long Wan can see monkeys, abandoned villages, exotic vegetation, wild coastline, green mountains, and rocky shores from the trail. After your hike, you can relax on the area’s beaches, go for a swim, or camp under the stars. If you don’t have your own camping gear, you can rent it from some nearby restaurants. The area can get busy on weekends but is rarely crowded during the week.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a mix of urban exploring and epic trails and want to travel between October and April, Hong Kong is a perfect destination for your next hiking or trail running trip.

From rocky outcrops overlooking the city center to secluded paths next to white sand beaches, Hong Kong has an incredible amount of diverse hikes for such a small area. Whether you decide to hike a portion of one of the four major long-distance trails, or do a few day hikes close to the urban center, we’re sure it will be a wonderful adventure!

Looking for a different kind of destination? Check out some of our other hiking and travel guides:

Enjoyed this Post?

Hiking Destination Hong Kong & the Best HK Hikes

red arrowPin It!  Share it!  Tweet It!


  • 25
  • 1
  • 1
  •  
    27
    Shares
  • 23
    Shares

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5% Discount
No prize
25% Discount
Almost!
10% Discount
No Prize
30% Discount
No luck today
20% Discount
Next time
15% Discount
Unlucky
Get your chance to win a prize!

Enter your email address and spin the wheel. This is your chance to win an amazing discount on your first order!

  • One game per user