Last updated on September 6, 2021.
Long for a peaceful escape from the daily grind to de-stress and unclog your mind after a long day or week? Fancy quick and painless exercises in the crisp breeze to boost your energy? Or simply eager for short wanders to explore the city’s sceneries?
Hiking is certainly the low-cost, most accessible way to do so. But you don’t need to be a hardcore trailwalker and trek to the countryside, especially if you don’t have hours to spare like many Hongkongers.
Urban Hiking Trails in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is never just a concrete jungle, dotted among skyscrapers are green hills and grassy mountains with epic views of the skyline. Look a bit further and you will find a short trail just a stone’s throw away from your home to hop on.
Urban hiking trails are perfect if taking to the Peak is too much work for you or strolling around the block cannot satisfy you. Though they are on the easier side, they are no less picturesque nor do they fall short of any trips in nature. And the best thing? They take no more than an hour.
We’ve done all the legwork over the city to compile a list of hidden gems for you with time and directions included. Pick one and skip all the hassle of traveling back and forth to the city!
1. Garden Hill (嘉頓山) in Sham Shui Po
photo courtesy: ig @ida___chan
This 91m-tall hill sneaking behind Garden Bakery has certainly made a name for itself. It is the perfect destination if you are keen on bringing your torch and having a fun, safe night expedition. After a flight of stairs, you’ll reach the summit with Sham Shui Po laid open and lit up at your feet. You can either throw a picnic mat or take the seats available there and enjoy the view.
While Garden Hill is iconic for captivating sunset and night views, the bustling dayview is definitely worth a look too. You can wind down in the cool shade under the towering trees on those baking hot days.
Time needed: Less than 30 minutes (1-hour round trip)
How to get to Garden Hill: Take exit D2 from Sham Shui Po MTR station and head towards Mei Ho House.There will be a stair at the foot of the hill after about a 10-minute walk.
2. Red Signal Hill (紅燈山) in Ho Man Tin
photo courtesy: ig @hikegps & @toro.hkshiba
Although the hill stands 107m tall, don’t underestimate the upward ascent as the writhing trail in Ho Man Tin can get a bit narrow and steep at times, but the walk is definitely great exercise for your body.
Sandwiched between Ho Man Tin and To Kwai Wan, Red Signal Hill offers a panoramic view of the new and old buildings surrounded by hills, Kowloon Bay sea and Kai Tak runway. It is well-liked by both morning and night walkers for its tranquility — many enjoy picnics on the vast football field lawn against the sunset backdrop.
Time needed: Less than 30 minutes (1-hour round trip)
How to get to Red Signal Hill: Depart from Ho Man Tin Exit A2 and pass Sheung Lok Street Garden before heading towards Ho Man Tin East Service Reservoir Playground.
3. Checkerboard Hill (格仔山) in Lok Fu
photo courtesy: ig @catsy325 & @mc.ngan
Checkerboard hill makes up for its short height (98m) with ample open space and plenty of recreational areas that overlook the entire Kowloon City, topping the list of starter hikes in Kowloon East.
Ideal for after-meal strolls and leisure day trips, the hill, along with its signature red-white checkered pattern on the exterior, are backed by amazing history dating back to years ago when pilots had to navigate towards this hill for landing at the now-closed Kai Tak Airport.
Be careful near the flat peak, as barbed wire fences close in on the route.
Time needed: About 30 minutes (1-hour round trip)
How to get to Checkerboard Hill: Take Lok Fu MTR station Exit A and head in the direction of the parking lot of the shopping mall. Start the hike upon entering the entrance of Lok Fu Park.
4. Ping Shan (平山) in Kowloon Bay
photo courtesy: ig @royalmanlife
Don’t be fooled by its name, which can be translated literally to “flat hill” in Chinese, this small hill is about 189m high and more challenging than it sounds. The hike starts with a mild incline all the way from the MTR station to the foot of the hill before a straight, seemingly never-ending staircase lies before you.
Rest assured the payoff will be immense though. Once you reach the top, you will get a sweeping view of Kowloon: Kowloon Bay, Shun Lee Estate, Jordan Valley… to name but a few and even a clear-cut side profile of Lion Rock in the distance.
There is no doubt Ping Shan is our favorite in the list, as well as many avid photographers’. It is not hard to fathom why. Apart from being lesser-known and away from the crowds, the sunset view with a dreamy glow is one of a kind. In Winter times, you can even find Instagram-famous miscanthus (also commonly known as mango grass) there. But the most important thing? You get to reconnect with nature for an array of benefits, including improved focus, lower stress, better mood, lower risk of mental disorders and even enhanced empathy and cooperation — a simple stroll will do.
Time needed: More than 30 minutes (1-hour round trip)
How to get to Ping Shan: Start off from Kowloon Bay Exit B and walk along the flyover to the end. Pass Choi Tak Estate before going up alongside Choi Wan Road Fresh Water Service Reservoir.
5. Little Hawaii Trail (小夏威夷徑) in Tseung Kwan O
photo courtesy: ig @matteohku & @g.surajj
Surrounded by verdant greenery, Little Hawaii Trail is the secluded “natural” spot you have been searching for all along. With streams, trees for shade and rest areas with chairs along the way, you will come to love this family-friendly hiking trail for how brisk and breezy it is.
You will see another fork in the route when you are almost at the end. Head in the direction of Au Tau and let the majestic waterfall take your breath away. Yes, a waterfall within walking distances of streets.
Time needed: 1-hour round trip
How to get to Little Hawaii Trail: Take either bus 91M at Po Lam bus terminal or minibus 1A in Choi Hung, get off at Tseng Lan Shue station. After that, pass the pedestrian tunnel and head in the direction of Au Tau Village. Eventually, you will find the trailhead. Take Po Lam MTR to return.
6. Signal Hill/ Blackhead Point (訊號山) & Signal Hill Garden (訊號山花園) in Tsim Sha Tsui
photo courtesy: ig @suki_s_l
Tucked away in Tsim Sha Tsui, Signal Hill (also known as Blackhead Point) is a breath of fresh air amidst the bustling downtown area. Resting on top is the Signal Hill Garden where you can see beautiful flowers in full bloom given the right season and enjoy the sea view of Victoria Harbour in the quiet sea breeze. But sure enough, your attention would soon be caught by the Signal Tower, an elegant red-bricked building just a few steps away.
Time needed: About 20 minutes
How to get to Signal Hill: Take Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station exit N5. Go straight along Mody Road, turn right at Minden Row and you will reach the entrance of Signal Hill Garden.
7. Dutch Lane (荷蘭徑) in Wan Chai
photo courtesy: ig @silaskaren & @daily_the_road
If the above trails are not strenuous enough to satisfy your need for calorie burn, heart health and metabolism boost, you might consider the Dutch Lane! The Dutch Lane is 1.5km-long, but before you start off at the trailhead, you have to first ascend an extremely steep upward incline (also 1.5km-long) stretching along Wan Chai Gap Road. It is not dangerous to go uphill at all, though, since the slope is very wide and gentle.
Although you don’t get an extensive view of Hong Kong Island blocked by the full-grown tree trunks, strange rocks and adornments lay in store for you to uncover their authentic history dating as far as to the Second World War.
Time needed: 1-hour round trip
How to get to Dutch Lane: Take Wan Chai exit A3 or D, pass Bowen Road and start off along Wan Chai Gap Road (near the Blue House). Take buses at the end to return.
Whether you are a novice or hiking aficionado, the above list can definitely help you quench your wanderlust thirst and ease your “everyday stressors”! You can always turn the intensity up a notch, e.g. jogging/ running instead of walking, as part of your workout routine. However, do remember that you don’t need to exert yourselves to the fullest to reap the physical and mental benefits of a good outdoor trek.
Word of caution: It’s better safe than sorry. Check the weather a few days in advance and on the day, bring sufficient water and mosquito repellents, and make sure that your phone is fully charged in case of emergency.