Hong Kong Hiking Escapes
Want an exhilarating pull up an arretlike ridge that culminates in a scramble to the top of 1,520-foot Sharp Peak? Does the reward of breathtaking coastal views of the South China Sea, outlying islands, and deserted beaches sound attractive?
Sharp Peak is on the Sai Kung Peninsula, located in the northeastern sector of the New Territories, perhaps the wildest region of Hong Kong. Deep ravines, tangled woods, and undulating, windswept ridges reminiscent of Scotland are your companions. Through our binoculars we only spied two other hikers along the entire 9.3-mile route.
Starting the Hike
The hike starts at Wong Shek, a fishing village only an hour's drive from downtown Kowloon. The trailhead is in a picnic ground that has clean toilets. Immediately the trail ascends a densely bushed hillside: April's humidity closed in and we started sweating.
Soon we came to a feng shui woods with a small shrine tucked against the base of a shady tree, marking the nearly deserted village of To Kwa Peng. This was our first introduction to feng shui the ancient Chinese custom of strategically positioning homes and shrines among trees, hills, water, and vistas to foster harmony and serenity. While hiking throughout Hong Kong, we found many gravesites, shrines, and villages situated to maximize their feng shui potential.
As we proceeded uphill, the canopy of trees above us started to sway and a burst of loud cackles jolted us. Macaque monkeys were swinging through the trees, jumping from branch to branch. Just as suddenly, silence returned, save for the droning of cicadas.
Only a few paces more took us out of the woods and onto the windswept ridges, giving us our first good look at Sharp Peak. From here we had astounding views of the ria, Hong Kong's submerged coastline.
To the Summit
The climb to the summit is occasionally a scramble: A sign implores hikers to turn back because it's too dangerous. It isn't. Take your time, watch your footing, and seize your reward.
The peak offers panoramic views. To the northeast is Tap Mun (Grass Island) and the sheltered Tai Tan Hoi (Long Harbor). To the south, the deserted coves of Tai Wan and Ham Tin Wan beckon. The latter was our destination.
Wind tugged and pushed us during our precipitous ridge-descent. At Tai Wan, ours were the only footprints in its sweep of white sand. To get to the village of Ham Tin, where we bought a tasty lunch, we headed inland, walking beside deserted rice paddies. Egrets stood statuesque, bulbuls trilled, and butterflies of iridescent green, blue, black, and glowing orange flitted about us.The villages are intriguing but spoiled by litter. Even the restaurant was untidy at best. Still, the glorious beachfront ocean vista was worth it all.
Our return to Wong Shek took us inland, alongside more old paddyfields skirting the village of Tai Long. Hiking through woods, tracing paths hugging contour lines, we finally descended stone steps and walked along a paved seaside path to a ferry pier. Here we boarded a motorized sampan that whisked us back to Wong Shek.
Guide Paul Etherington proved invaluable on this, our first hike of Hong Kong. By all means go on your own but be sure to get topographic maps, since trails and signage are not always intuitive. Paul arranged our ferry ride back to Wong Shek. You can do this yourself when you depart from that village, but you must be accurate in your timing. Or, you can complete the circuit on foot, which affords more flexibility.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication