Hong Kong Forest Trails for Tranquillity and Wildlife Watching

In this year that’s remarkable in Hong Kong for too many of the wrong reasons, it’s surely vital to try and find at least some brief escape from the perils of coronavirus – and so much more. Happily, there are places that are near the city yet seem far removed from it, including forested areas where you can hike and stroll along some wonderful trails, enjoying sounds such as streams cascading over rocks, buzzing cicadas, birds calling from dense cover. 

The Peak to Pokfulam

Stream above Pokfulam Reservoir

An easy wooded walk starts close by the bus terminus on the Peak, and follows Pokfulam Reservoir Road downhill. A couple of minutes after skirting around the barrier that prevents most traffic, you’re descending a tree covered slope, with the rest of the world lost from view.

             There are some open areas, where you can look around at hillsides that may seem surprisingly green given you’re on Hong Kong Island. A pleasant stream tumbles over small waterfalls on the right. This joins a larger stream, which flows through a ravine below the road, and can become a torrent after summer rains, surging over a weir before pouring into Pokfulam Reservoir.

Getting there

The Peak is easily reached by transport including minibus 1 from Central; and from below Pokfulam Reservoir you can catch a bus to the city.

Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve

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Tai Po Kau

The walk into this reserve follows a narrow, mostly car-free road that starts at Tai Po Road, and leads into a valley carved by the Tai Po Kau Stream. After perhaps 20 minutes, the road arrives at a small dam beside the stream, where much of the stream flow is diverted towards Plover Cove Reservoir. 

            Four signposted trails start by the dam. All follow circular routes, and are marked by posts with coloured markings. The yellow and brown trails head higher and cover up to 10km, while the shorter blue and red trails stay closer to the stream and pass through the best forest.

            A variety of tree species was planted here after the Second World War, with the aim of making it home to a wide range of plants and animals. Today, it is Hong Kong’s best area for seeking forest birds and other wildlife. 

Getting there

Taxi or bus (70, 72, 73A or 74A) from Tai Po Market Station.

Shing Mun Reservoir

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Pool along stream by Shing Mun Reservoir

This reservoir is in a splendid setting – a deep valley to the south of Tai Mo Shan. From the road by Pineapple Dam, you can walk up a flight of steps, then follow an easy trail that skirts alongside the wooded west shore of the reservoir. 

            This trail leads up to a road with restricted access for vehicles, which you can follow northwards, further into the valley. The road crosses a couple of picturesque streams that flow into the nearby reservoir.

             There’s a road junction by the north of the reservoir, where you could head left and up towards Leadmine Pass, before dropping down through Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. It’s also tempting to continue and make a circuit of the reservoir, but note that Pineapple Dam lies around 4km away via the reservoir’s east shore, over twice the distance of returning the way you came.    

Getting there

Taxi or minibus 82 from near Tsuen Wan Station.

Plover Cove Reservoir and Bride’s Pool

From Chung Mei at the north of Plover Cove Reservoir, a trail leads through a forested ravine. It crosses a footbridge, climbs a little, then runs almost level along the steep slope above the Wang Chung Stream.

            You pass a clearing with a barbecue site and, just after a footbridge of granite slabs, there’s a junction with a side trail to the right. Follow this, and you enter another, steeper ravine, where the trail ends abruptly, at a vantage overlooking the magnificent Mirror Pool waterfall.

            Also from the junction, a path continues up the main valley of the Wang Chung Stream. Look for a left turn, and you can keep following the stream. On the left, another footbridge leads towards a car park and bus stop. 

Before crossing this bridge, maybe follow the path till it reaches the stream, which you might scramble up if there’s little flow, to the attractive Bride’s Pool waterfall.

Getting there

On Sundays and public holidays, bus 275R runs from Tai Po Market Station to Bride’s Pool, with stops near Chung Mei.

Pak Tam Chung and Sheung Yiu

Footbridge at Pak Tam Chung

The Pak Tam Chung Family Walk makes for a leisurely stroll through woodland. It heads north past a couple of barbecue sites, then angles southeast to meet Pak Tam Road.

Rather than simply walk back alongside this road and then Tai Mong Tsai Road, look for a footbridge over the stream. Cross this, and you can walk along a footpath shaded by trees including mangroves growing in the muddy banks of this tidal stretch of stream. 

This path soon arrives beside Sheung Yiu, which was formerly a village comprising a short row of houses accessed by a gate through a watchtower, and is now a folk museum (currently closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, but still interesting to view from outside).

Getting there

Several bus and minibuses stop at Pak Tam Chung, including bus 94 from Sai Kung.

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