In my ~2+ years in Hong Kong I’ve done a fair number of hikes, many of them far exceeding my prior expectations of Hong Kong with some really breathtaking scenery. Still, the Dragon’s Back hike has managed to surprise me once again. Taking a visiting Couchsurfer through the dragon back like mountains of southern Hong Kong island I was – myself – completely overwhelmed by the beauty of this trail.
It’s a gorgeous stretch of mountains surrounded by sea, islands, beaches, and the familiar sub-tropical scenery. The way we did it, Hong Kong style, also made it into one of the easiest hikes I’ve done so far going down hill almost all the way through. Wind in my hair, surrounded by all that natural beauty, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a summer afternoon.
Discover Hong Kong does the usual good job at trying to get you excited :
Hong Kong is remarkable because you can step from busy urban areas into peaceful countryside in less than an hour. That’s particularly true for the Dragon’s Back trail which Time Magazine declared as the Best Urban Hike in Asia (22 Nov 2004 Asia Issue). The trail is "the city’s finest and most surprising ramble", the Time article says. "The glory of it all is that you’re so close to the city, but could hardly feel farther away." […]
Reaching the spectacular Shek O Country Park, you will follow rugged undulating spinal ridge of the Dragon’s Back. From the ridge there are spectacular views eastwards to Clear Water Bay Peninsula and islands in the eastern sea approaches to Hong Kong. To the west, there are views of Stanley Peninsula and the South China Sea. At the foot of the Dragon’s Back is the popular village Shek O with its sandy beaches and alfresco restaurants.
They also offer a good detailed map of the area and the hike.
I followed Roz’s suggestion for an easier hike :
Easier Start: Alternatively, take a taxi from Chai Wan MTR to the Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institute on Shek O road (about HK$20) and miss out the first hill.
End: Ends on the Shek O road. You can catch a bus back to central or take minibus to Shek O for a meal at the Thai (or one of the many other restaurants there) and get a bus or minibus back to Central from there
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: A good walk for beginners. Steep hill up through cemetery (which you can miss out if you get a taxi to the prison instead), and then nice gently undulating walk looking down over Shek O. At weekends you can often see people paragliding and flying model aeroplanes and kites off the steep hills.
And so a taxi from the last stop on eastern HK island, up all the hard climb on the mountain, and you’re almost at the top.
The south-eastern side overlooks the Shek O lovely beaches, a treat as of itself if you have the time…
Big Wave Bay (HK island’s Tai Long Wan) another perfect option…
So down the mountain ridge we go…
Overlooking the north-western side are some lucky HK residents with some of the world’s finest views.
A hike like that, I just couldn’t help myself but shoot lots of panoramas…
If you’re in need of (another) map…
If you have people coming to visit in Hong Kong and you want an easy trail that shows some of Hong Kong Island’s best views – this should be your pick.
More on Dragon’s back and Shek O Country Park :