(Sept 2017) The pollution was bad for the last week in Hong Kong. Two typhoons threatened to come but dissipated to the South and North respectively.
We decided to go on a leisurely family paced hike from Parkview down to Quarry Bay. The incentive? Lunch at the end of the journey. This walk isn’t the most scenic or spectacular, but it is all paved and mostly shaded, which makes it a good walk with kids. It’s downhill, uphill, downhill and round several bends. There’s lots of spiders and bugs to look at along the way but no toilets til you get to the summit. Bring water and snacks for the kids so that they don’t complain too much along the way and get a power (sugar) boost if necessary.
The view gets a little more scenic once you’ve reached the summit and start to head back down the hill towards Quarry Bay. The path is a proper road that’s wide and not too steep.
Half way down, the exposed bits of path allow you a view towards the big buildings and beyond. It would have been a better view if it weren’t for the pollution.
As it was a sunny sort of day, I was grateful that the shade from trees resumed after a few minutes for the rest of the hike.
On the way, you’ll walk past the Biodiversity museum. The gates were open and it seemed like there was an event of some sort taking place, but I didn’t go in. If you go, please let me know what it’s like inside.
Further down the path, look out for some amusing signs.
This sign says “Do not Pick wild mushrooms for consumption”
This one says “Be considerate to speak softly”
Just so you know, I didn’t see any wild animals or wild mushrooms that day. I did look, but they must have been picked or fed already.
Pretty soon, you’re back in civilisation and the residential homes are in view.
A small temple at the end of the path marks the end of the trail and the start of hustle bustle Quarry Bay.
We went up over the overhead bridge, across the road and to the right. Take the left at the second traffic junction you come to and follow the road down and rojndcto the right. We ended up at the Butcher’s Club opposite Swire’s swanky office building for a hearty lunch of burgers and duck fat fries.
This walk takes approximately 2 hours at an adult leisure walking pace, add an hour if you’re bringing toddlers who wish to inspect every insect they see.
It’s getting quite warm now in Hong Kong so hikes need to be done early in the morning or on a cloudy day. On Sunday morning we got bounced out of bed for a hike up to Violet Hill at 7.30am.
We got the taxi to drop us off at Wong Nai Chung reservoir, which is on the left of the road towards Parkview. From there, walk around the reservoir’ path (stop to look at the terrapins in the water if you wish) and follow it to the steps just beyond. This is the trailhead.
It starts off nice and green. You will see the steps amidst all the foliage.
After a few minutes uphill, we came across a rest hut. Stop here if you need to catch your breath. But there isn’t much to see so the girls decided it was best to carry on.
Up and up the steps, very quickly we were up looking over the buildings.
And the foliage gradually changes.
There’s a mild uphill for a bit on a meandering path. Walk slowly here to admire some flora.
This walk has some unpaved bits, but it’s not hard for children. We had an 8 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old with us (in a sling).
Spot the flowers and bush fruits on the walk, keep your eyes open as there really aren’t many of them. The flowers are often found low to the ground, easier for pollination by crawling insects.
There were also a few fungal fruiting bodies among the dead leaves. Not sure if any of these are edible so please leave them where they are.
Then up a long stairway into the mist.
On the way, look out for bamboo sprouting their new shoots, beautiful stars on a trajectory. I think each little star can become a bamboo plant.
After another bit of foliage, you get to the trigonometry point.
Well, trigonometry points usually have views but it was a very misty day and we couldn’t see anything beyond 20 feet. So after a brief hangout, a bit of orange eating, water drinking and sitting on the trig base, it was time to continue.
Then it was downhill on a dirt path, a little rocky but nothing a four year old in a dress couldn’t handle.
You can see the wonderful view I had. White mist..! The bright side of it is that there was a fantastic breeze and so so cool. For anyone with acrophobia, it’s the perfect day to go hiking. Couldn’t make out the ravines at all.
Subsequently, it was a bit flat then a slightly rocky uphill again.
Along this path, there were some interesting objects and flowers.
Then the uphill ended at an intersection, whereupon we went towards Parkview.
After a short flat open path, it was downhill again, we met our first big group of hikers coming the other way. We stopped briefly to let them pass.
The slope became flat and open again. We saw a mango tree in bloom, a small centipede and a tree that was devoid of leaves and possibly dead.
About 5 minutes after that we went past some huge rocks and got to some stairs leading down.
We descended down into a paved path and a long stairway which put us on the main road just outside Parkview.
You might like to use this ordinance map to get a feel for the terrain. I’d highly recommend it for kids 3 and above. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the circuit (maybe 2 if your kids keep stopping to check out the views or dig for quartz).
We had two appointments on a sunny Saturday. First, a brunch at a friend’s house in Parkview at 11am then a 3pm play date at the Hong Kong Jockey Club club house in Happy Valley.
We left Parkview at 2pm and our Parkview host suggested that we could get to Happy Valley via a trail. As we had an hour, bright sunny weather and it was largely downhill, I agreed to give it a try.
First we did a short steep uphill from just outside Parkview’s entrance. Two stone cubes mark the start of the trail.
Then you’ll see some steps with a trail signboard.
This one indicates you’re on a hiking trail.
Immediately, we entered a nicely shaded path that had railings on one side and a water pipe on stilts beside a ravine.
Continuing along the trail, there were trail markers and distance posts which told us we weren’t lost. I saw several caves leftover from the war that were not in good repair, partly collapsed and covered in shrubs. It was interesting to see, photos didn’t come out well though.
There were some beautiful views along the way when the path twisted along exposed mountainside.
Then we came to a proper map and information board. We then got a better idea of exactly where we were.
More shaded walking after that along leaf strewn narrow pathways that only fit us in single file.
Subsequent to the sign post above, it was gradual downhill stairs pretty much all the way.
The gradual stairway led to a covered reservoir with a lookout point. This was Jardine’s lookout. It was very exposed and the grass looked rather burnt so we didn’t linger long.
The next part of the trail was part shaded but with very steep uneven stairs and low hanging branches.
The descent then got rather exposed toward Happy Valley, with bigger and more numerous pipes visible.
The trail ends by a small Towngas supply station.
The trail ends at Tai Hang Road.
We crossed over to Green Lane and walked down the sidewalks to the Hong Kong Jockey Clubhouse.
It was a good downhill walk, good to check that your thighs and knees are in good shape. I would recommend doing this walk only when it’s dry… There is no shade from rain and the paths could get slippery.
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.
You already know that it’s possible to hike across Hong Kong island. There are many trails running over the mountains and numerous hikers blazing through them every weekend.
Most parents with babies and strollers restrict themselves to walking around the Peak or Hong Kong Park. Nothing wrong with that except that if you get off that beaten path, the route becomes quiet and you can hear running water and the chirping of birds in the bush.
If you have about two hours and would like to do a relatively simple walk for exercise and fresh air, try this country walk to the first area of settlement in Hong Kong, Aberdeen.
We were relaxing (otherwise known as pfaffing or moping) at home while husband was out having a meeting with the boss. He came home at around 5pm to a very excited toddler who was dying to go to a playground. He remarked what a nice day it was and suggested we go on a W-A-L-K. To fulfill both expectations of playground and walk, we decided on the Aberdeen country park walk. This nicely paved, all-downhill walk (as long as you start where we did) is a very easy, quiet and shaded walk.
Naturally small person didn’t want to leave Coombe road playground. The swing! The slide! The swing! The slide! She had to be forcibly removed with the promise of food. I fed her two herb boiled eggs and she was satiated and singing. To get the the start of the walk, exit Coombe Road playground, get on to Mount Cameron road on your right and then turn right again into Aberdeen Reservoir road. You’ll then see the sign for Aberdeen Country Park.
We started off at around 5.30pm, it was already starting to get dark. The moon rose and the raptors were circling waiting for the night hunt to commence.
It soon got too dark to take any photos, so take it from me that it is a very green trail and perfectly suited to a stroller. There are no stairs or bumps in the road.
There are bins along the way if you need to toss the diaper or food wrapper. Toilets are only at the beginning and end of the walk.
Look out for a junction where you see a big deep drain on your right, turn right and walk along it, it will lead you straight down into Aberdeen. The park will end near a barbecue/ picnic area and you will suddenly find yourself walking on a concrete pavement going downhill all the way towards bright city lights with fifty or more people who are leaving the barbecue area. Not to worry, this crowd thins out very quickly.
Stay on the left pavement going down and you will see traffic light at the bottom of the hill. Cross and walk straight along that road, crossing another one into Aberdeen Square. It looks very messy and people are everywhere, get into the main square area where there are shops and people generally hanging out by the decorative fountain in the Center. You’ll know when you’re there by the mock chinese gates that you’ll have to walk through.
Best bet for a reliable dinner was the Tai Hing. There was a queue but it moved quickly and that’s where we ended up for a hearty meal.
A short taxi ride or the green minibus 4B or 4C takes you straight through the tunnel back to Wan Chai.
It’s been cloudy in Hong Kong. Every day it threatens to rain but often it doesn’t. Sometimes we get a little sprinkle but not enough to cool down so that we can put on a rain jacket without perspiring into an internal puddle.
On a day like this, what better way to spend the day then escaping the city’s concrete caverns into the nearby mountains. Easily a degree or two cooler up there but that’s only down to 27 degrees Celsius. Still hot. It’s the wind that makes the difference, those cool gusts coming in from the ocean make it feel like 22 degrees Celsius. So refreshing.
So off we went on a hike. Small person insisted on wearing her pretty Natty dress, which I was quite sure wasn’t the best attire for the purpose but made nice photos. A cab up Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, dropping off at Tai Tam Country Park just outside Parkview Estate.
The stair master began, gently at first while the forest still provided shelter but more intense on the shrub exposed Mount Butler approach.
The trail eased off towards to quarry and made for some amazing views to both right and left.
After we hiked up the side of the quarry, Parkview disappeared from view and we did a climb again to the top of another peak (sighted a battle-scarred lightning rod).
After that it was downward via a stairway that led more or less straight toward Quarry Bay/ Tai Koo Shing. Along here we saw the tall black antennas poking out towards the sky. The Mount Butler radio frequency receiving station covered an impressive site, many steel rods in vertical alignment supported by cables in all directions. Approximately (1) on map below
The descent soon brought us to the Quarry bay tree walk where we suddenly came upon a bamboo thicket lined with porcelain statues and a shrine to the Goddess of Mercy. Probably a place of prayer for those who perished in the area.
Shortly thereafter, we saw old military installations such as food stores and cooking stoves. (2) on map below
I was surprised that the stoves were in such good condition, clearly built to withstand any kind of fire.
Beautiful flowers had taken the place where furnaces would have burned hot. These flowers radiated such energy in their colour, contrasting from the uniform lush green surroundings.
The rest of the descent was very green and peaceful. Sounds of running water from brooks and waterfalls… and gradually more signs of human activity (BBQ sites, picnic areas).
Small person did quite well on the long uphill stair climbs, needing a hand hold all the way. I didn’t mind as some parts of the trail were unpaved or made of slippery stone, while other parts near the quarry were ravines and cliffs not to be trifled with. A slip in the wrong direction would have been certain disaster. Fortunately we managed to get her to cooperate and sit in the back carrier when she needed a rest. A fifteen minute nap, some snacks and she was awake again singing songs to her finger puppet.
Great scenes of nature, lots to see and talk about. But not for a toddler who wants to either take off without you or one that’s too heavy for you to carry for more than two hours. Unless you or your partner recently joined a weightlifting gym like my husband did.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty