I’ve become slightly addicted to hiking in Hong Kong at the moment. The weather for the past couple of weeks has been absolutely glorious – clear blue skies but a drop in temperature have meant I can still marvel at Hong Kong’s vistas without melting into a puddle of sweat. As I’m doing more hikes now, my quest to find more obscure and further afield trails brought me to Po Lo Shan, way up in the North-West of the New Territories. When you can look across the water and see China, you know you’re hiking off the beaten track somewhat.
It was a long but scenic journey to reach Po Lo Shan (or Pineapple Mountain as it also known, due to its rocky terrain). Siu Hong, on the purple West Rail Line is the place to head to, either via MTR or, as I did, by bus. The KMB 67x bus heads from Mong Kok to Siu Hong and costs $12.8 so is a bit cheaper than the MTR. There are some great views along the way if you can get a seat on the left side or the front of the top deck.
From Siu Hong, the start of the trail is accessed by jumping on one of Hong Kong’s quirky light rail trains which serve the western areas of the New Territories. They’re basically just mini trams but they’re quite fun and trundling through small town centres made me think I was back in the UK again. For the beginning of the Po Lo Shan trail, the train to get on is #505. You alight at Leung King, 4 stops away from where you got on at Siu Hong. Make sure you validate your Octopus card at one of the platform scanners before and after your train journey.
The light rail drops you off right outside Leung King Plaza which has got plenty of shops from where you can buy supplies for the hike. Otherwise, cross over the tram lines and turn left, heading down Tin King Road until it bends to the right. Continue to follow it as it bends and you’ll soon see a trail heading to the left. This is where the hike begins.
The trail starts on a paved road which slants upwards. It was a sunny day when we went without a great deal of shade so a sunhat might be good. It doesn’t take too long before you get some fantastic views of Tuen Mun and the valleys that surround it.
It was really busy on the day we went, as the baffled locals continuously remarked, probably because of the perfect weather. Lots of other hikers were meandering down side trails, of which there were plenty, but to get to the main attraction – the canyon – you want to stay on the main trail, ignoring any side paths. There are plenty of good views to be had along the way though and the trail isn’t particularly difficult. As it’s not an ‘official’ (legal) hiking route, there aren’t any signs (other than to tell you how illegal you’re being) but it’s an easy enough route to follow. As it’s clearly such a popular trail, I’m not sure why they don’t just make it an official one – it’s relatively well-maintained as it is so it wouldn’t take a lot of work.
After probably about 45 minutes or so, we arrived at the canyon which is the main focal point of the hike. This was certainly where all the other visitors were stopping to embark on fully-fledged photoshoots. We went more old school, perching on a rock and tucking into our pre-prepared butties. It really was quite surprising how many people were here given its unofficial status – daring cyclists whizzed past us; a family bizarrely arrived to take graduation photos, whilst another group turned up with suitcases full of filming equipment, including a drone which made it sound like a swarm of wasps would imminently attack. Po Lo Shan may seem off the beaten track for us Westerners but it was just another day out for the locals.
The presence of other people didn’t take away from it too much though and, as we descended from the canyon, fewer people seemed to be around. The climb down was easy enough with some almost Martian terrain which required steady footing at times. It didn’t take us long to reach the end of the trail and the welcome sign that told us we (like so many others) had just wandered across the PLA’s shooting range. I’d definitely advise going on a Sunday to avoid any stray bullets.
We weren’t finished there either. After the hike, the walk to the minibus terminal (signposted) took us past Ha Pak Nai, a familiar spot for me as I had visited it 2 years earlier. Ha Pak Nai is a wetland-come-beach from where you can supposedly see the best sunset in Hong Kong. On such a clear afternoon, it seemed rude not to hang around. The tide was already coming in fast so we perched on a large rock at the end of the beach to enjoy the view. The locals were attempting to across the flooded beach to get a better view but given the tide rose higher as the sun went down, they then had to miss the sunset to cross back over so it kind of defeated the point.
After chilling underneath a dazzling sunset, it seemed our biggest challenge was still to come – catching a minibus. Minibus 33 heads to Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long MTR stations from a tiny village close to the beach. Sounds easy enough, except every man and his dog had gone to watch the sunset and so the queue was insane. I remembered it was long last time, but it was nothing compared to this. They seemed to put extra minibuses on but it was still almost a two hour wait. The brilliant hike and beautiful sunset meant it was still worth it, but it’s definitely something to factor in.
Perhaps it’s not such an ‘undiscovered’ area of Hong Kong after all…