Hiking the Hong Kong Trail Stage 1 on Christmas Day?
Why not? Given the excessive amount of eating one does in Hong Kong, you need something to counter all those calories. Furthermore, December is a fantastic season to be in Hong Kong and Christmas Day’s cool weather was just perfect for hiking.
The 50km Hong Kong Trail is officially divided into 8 stages. Stage 1 begins at Victoria Peak, the Hong Kong Island landmark familiar to most. Stage 1 with an add-on to make it a loop is what Good Mrs and I walked today.
Map of the complete Hong Kong Trail:
You could hike up the hill to Victoria Peak. Or you can do what most visitors do, jump onto the peak tram from Garden Road Peak Tram Terminus.
Here is Good Mrs and I onboard the peak tram, filled with anticipations.
Once you arrive at the Victoria Peak, you may like to spend a few moments adoring the views from there.
A bit hazy today, but pretty amazing lookout wouldn’t you say?
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) has over 7,840 high-rise buildings, including some 1,303 skyscrapers taller than 100 meters. Those numbers can only increase. Below are some of them.
Across Victoria Harbour in West Kowloon is Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre (ICC). It stands at 484 meters, making it currently the 9th tallest building in the world.
Back to the hiking…
The Hong Kong Trail begins by following Lugard Road north from Victoria Peak. All clearly marked as you leave the Peak Tram terminus.
Don’t let the “Road” component put you off. Yes, the path is surfaced and yes, you may see a car (unlikely, a street cleaner with his trolley, however, is possible). The path is flat and green with…
…occasional clearings for more of those views. The below is officially called Lugard Road Lookout.
Lugard Road was named after Hong Kong’s 14th Governor, Sir Frederick Lugard (1908-1912). The road has always been the most famous sightseeing route in Hong Kong.
Trail signage is extensive throughout stage 1 of the Hong Kong Trail (I can’t comment on the other stages). Here are three examples.
First some information about Distance Posts. These you will see on a regular basis along the trail.
A distance post looks like this.
Hong Kong SAR has a slope registration system (SIS) where some 60,000 man-made slopes are recorded and tracked throughout this landslide affected territory. SIS is publically available online. It is maintained by the Geotechnical Engineering Office of Hong Kong.
You will see a few of Slope Registration Number signs today too.
Back to the Hong Kong Trail and suddenly a small forest of Indian Rubber Trees appeared. You feel small there among those trees reaching up to 15 meters tall. Good Mrs demonstrates…
Lugard Road is also used as an access road for people with houses on the hills. Likely to be seriously wealthy people in other words. Although some of the grand old dames have fallen into disrepair. Some were being renovated and some showed no activity at all.
Several roads and trails come together at The Peak, at the junction of Lugard Road and Harlech Road. Where there also is a picnic area and public toilets.
Here, you need to do a sharp turn right and back and then choose the left trail. Sounds complicated, but is evident when you get there. Just follow the sign towards Pok Fu Lam.
At The Peak, Good Mrs and I started chatting with an elder English ex-pat who was out walking his dog. The gentleman had resided in the territory since 1974, first working and now retired. He looked fit and walked with us all the way to High West.
High West is excellent for a break. Which we had with Good Mrs demonstrating below.
As usual, signage was excellent. As were the views.
After High West, the descent started. Mostly stairs, well-maintained, straightforward walking. Below are views towards Lamma Island and the three chimneys of its power station. Lamma Island is the destination for our next Hong Kong hike.
The Hong Kong Trail had been predominantly surfaced and flat until here. Now, in addition to stairs, the path also consisted of concrete and rocks through its flatter sections. Probably a necessity, given Hong Kong’s rain and landslides.
And what goes down, must occasionally come up.
Just before reaching Pok Fu Lam reservoir, the trail splits in two. We arrived from the left below, with the Hong Kong Trail continuing to the right.
The trail behind me below is a shortcut to the western entrance of Pok Fu Lam Country Park and the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir. It’s appropriately called Pok Fu Lam Family Walk.
There are toilets there at the park’s entrance. So we diverted off the Hong Kong Trail for a little while…
Soon, water reservoir infrastructure appeared…
…before we reached Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road. The toilets are behind that boom gate on the left.
By the way, the ex-pat gentlemen from earlier… that’s him in the picture above. In that horisontally striped shirt. We chatted a bit more before we departed… again.
Then a funny episode around the toilets…
The male toilet had no visitors… except for a woman!
The female toilet had a long queue. As I approached, the queueing women got somewhat excited. They knew of course that some lady was using men’s facilities right then. A few nervous laughs as I did my business inside while a woman exited the cubicle behind me. A few more giggles and lighthearted comments as I wished the ladies “good luck” as I left. Well, if you got to, you got to go…
Good Mrs decided to hang around the reservoir and meet me there later while I returned up the hill to walk the rest of Hong Kong Trail stage 1. The remaining part was less exciting. Mostly, the vegetation obscured views as you can see below.
The remaining best views were probably from below. You may notice the likely rain shadow and the dry vegetation. It felt a little bit Australian to me…
The Hong Kong Trail then takes a clockwise turn and you approach Pok Fu Lam Country Park from the east.
Below is a breakout picnic area (“number 1”). I ventured into its clearing with several picnic tables and benches. And lots of young ladies, presumably foreign maids, enjoying Christmas Day with plenty of food and drink.
Somebody offered me to join them for “dinner” (this was lunch time) but I declined. Man’s got to hike…
I continued down Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road and suddenly bumped into Good Mrs (that’s NOT her in the photo below). She was disappointed with the area surrounding the reservoir as you couldn’t actually see the reservoir. So she continued up the hill until we crossed path. Hence, no reservoir viewing for me.
We then followed Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road up and back to Victoria Peak.
Gotta love nature and what it can do. This tree close to Victoria Peak, whatever it is, covered a huge area of a stonewall with its roots. Looked absolutely magnificent.
Soon, we were back at Victoria Peak. Plenty of visitors now. And plenty of shopping, eating and drinking opportunities.
Good Mrs and I didn’t hang around there. We got onto the peak tram and returned down to the “flats”. But not before a final picture. Of Pok Fu Lam Reservoir from the distance. So I got to see the reservoir after all… 🙂
In summary, hiking the first stage of Hong Kong Trail was a different and satisfying way of celebrating Christmas Day. Given more time and opportunity, hiking the trail’s all 8 stages would be amazing. You get lots of brilliant city, sea, and island views as you move along.