Hong Kong may be known for its skyscrapers and enormous malls, but nearly 70 percent of the city is green space. Within the mountains, woodlands and country parks, avid hikers will be delighted to learn of the roughly 185 miles of designated hiking trails. We’ve lined up a few of our favorite treks — from easiest to most challenging — that show off the city’s spectacular surroundings.
Officially known as Stage 8 of the Hong Kong Trail, this iconic hike gets its name from an undulating path that resembles the curving back of a dragon. It’s a fantastic entry-level trek that kicks off with a steep stair climb at Cape Collinson Cemetery in Chai Wan. Once atop the terraced graveyard, which is an experience in itself, the remainder of the hike remains relatively flat.
The best part is the view: Dragon’s Back shepherds you along a wide-open ridge with panoramic coastline vistas the entire way. The excursion takes approximately two hours and ends about a mile from Shek O Village. Just hop on the No. 9 bus heading downhill, and cap off the afternoon with a beachfront feast you’ve packed.
Lamma Island Family Walk
Not only is the Lamma Island Family Walk about as easy as it gets, but the path also showcases an oft-overlooked side of life in Hong Kong. Starting from the Sok Kwu Wan Ferry Pier, first pass a clutch of seafood restaurants before leaving the tiny town. From there, it’s all forested pathways, Buddhist shrines, beaches and a few fantastic lookout points along the way.
Mostly flat with an occasional incline, the walk takes roughly two hours and finishes in Lamma’s larger village of Yung Shue Wan (though you can go in either direction), where cool cafés and leisurely watering holes await.
Wilson Trail Stage 2
Starting at Hong Kong Parkview in Tai Tam, the Wilson Trail Stage 2 is a favorite thanks to its expansive city views and convenient end point in Quarry Bay, where the food-centric Tong Chong Street Market is open on most Sundays of the year.
The four-mile-long hike has just two big uphill battles. Along the way, you’ll spy unobstructed views of Victoria Harbour, Jardine’s Lookout, Tai Tam Reservoir, a deep stone quarry and the coastline.
The Twins and Violet Hill
Also starting at Parkview is The Twins (a.k.a. Wilson Trail Stage 1). For Hong Kong hikers, The Twins need no introduction, but for the uninitiated, let us be clear — this one is pretty tough.
The trail is just three miles long, but most of that is uphill. Thankfully, it’s equally as scenic as it is difficult, with views of Tai Tam Reservoir, Repulse Bay and Stanley along the way.
The first incline, up Violet Hill, provides a good warm-up. Soon after, a 1,000-step stairwell marks the first of the Twin peaks. The second follows immediately, but before you know it, you’ll be lunching in Stanley and joking about those never-ending stairs.
MacLehose Stage 2
We can’t talk about Hong Kong hikes without mentioning the MacLehose Trail. This famous path winds across the New Territories and up into the nether-northern regions of Hong Kong.
MacLehose Trail Stage 2, a modest seven-mile chunk of the 62-mile-long trail, is easily the most popular. The reason’s self-explanatory: Tai Long Wan. Meaning “Big Wave Bay,” the four pristine beaches along the hike are often heralded as the most beautiful in Hong Kong, thanks in part to their secluded location.
The five-hour-long schlep starts from Sai Wan Pavilion and winds through the mountains until the first of the four beaches comes into sight. Keep heading up and over the hills for more secret shores — or just call it a day and pitch a tent.