Hong Kong’s dramatic natural scenery provides a really fantastic backdrop for photos on a clear day. There’s the lush green mountains and the dark swirling ocean waters of the harbour.
If you live well, it’s likely that you have an apartment that has a view of the mountains, the ocean, or both (that’s living very well).
Hong Kong has reclaimed a significant amount of land by filling in the harbour instead of building uphill. Residential development has gradually crept up the mountain but high prices for these properties (probably due to the cost of infrastructure installation and government regulation) keeps this in check. Interestingly, the residential area that borders the green lung is termed “upper edge“.
The Wan Chai Green Trail starts at sea level in Wan Chai and ascends rapidly through the upper edge and up the mountain slope.
It starts by the old Wan Chai post office (next to the Fresh Grower vegetable shop) and leads up to Kennedy Road.
This trail head isn’t particularly scenic, so our recommendation is that you walk up to Kennedy road via Stone Nullah Lane.
If you came up by the post office, the trail should be straight ahead of you i.e. just across the road. If you came up by Stone Nullah Lane, cross the road at the traffic right and turn right towards the huge condo development known as Bamboo Grove. The trail begins again here with some stairs and a signboard.
Depending on your level of fitness, you may consider the slope steep (or not). The incline I would estimate is about 20% but your thighs and heart rate might make you guess something closer to 30%. If it’s your first time, take a few breaks to admire the skyline and greet the people meandering down the slope… Some of whom go backwards.
At a normal walking pace, and no long breaks, you should reach the intersection with Bowen road within 10 minutes. There are some benches right here on the cross roads and more seating areas to the left. There’s also a public toilet if you need to use one.
Feeling comfortable? Continue upwards. This next stretch is less steep than the one you just came up and winds around to the left. There are some nice views over Wan Chai / Causeway Bay Area, and if you look up through the tree canopy, you’ll catch a glimpse of one of Hong Kong’s most expensive condos jutting out from woodland into open sky. There are also some impressive ravines where water runs down after a rain, presumably down through the Stone Nullah underground box culverts to the sea.
After a hairpin bend, the path steepens again as you head up toward the gap. This last stretch often has walkers resting on the side, bikers walking their bikes and some dog lovers carrying their beloved pooches (eh!). It may feel never ending but fear not, once you see the Dutch Lane intersection, you’re pretty much there.
The entire ascent usually takes me less than 25 minutes. Husband carries the baby and walks ahead. He does it in about 15 minutes, but I tell him it’s not a competition.
The trail literally spits you out onto a rather tricky traffic intersection. It’s on a bend and all the automobiles coming downhill usually do so with fearsome speed. Best to walk either to the right or left to get a clear view before you cross. Refer to the black line drawn on the map above.
The Wan chai gap/ Coombe road children’s playground (map) is straight ahead.
Note to parents:
- It’s steep. Try not to bring your pram unless you’re including a pram as a workout weight. I have seen parents doing this though.
- It’s steep. Don’t let your kid bring his bike/ scooter to ride up this trail unless you plan on carrying it for him/ her / them.
- It’s steep. Do watch your kids as the railings near the ravines aren’t jail bars. My husband tells me kids have fallen through before.
- It’s steep….whether you’re going uphill or downhill. Tell the kids not to run downhill lest they want some new scars to boast about. Downhill is a test for knee caps, try going slow.
- Get your kids to walk it if you can, the playground (and ice cream) is the incentive. They’ll be so wiped out after the playground you’ll be able to enjoy a quiet dinner.