Savvy Earth Savers
Hiking in Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is one of the world’s metropolis, out of the total 1 108 square kilometres of land, about three-quarters is countryside. Scenically, Hong Kong has a great deal to offer: a landscape rising from sandy beaches and rocky foreshores to heights of almost 1 000 metres, woodlands and mountain ranges covered by open grassland and a variety of scenic vistas rarely, if ever, matched in so small a territorial unit.

A total of 24 country parks have been designated for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education. There are 22 special areas created mainly for the purpose of nature conservation.

The Parks: The country parks and special areas cover a total area of 443 square kilometres. The country parks comprise scenic hills, woodlands, reservoirs and coastline in all parts of Hong Kong. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) manages the parks and is responsible for tree planting, litter collection, fire fighting, development control and provision of recreation and education facilities. The country parks are very popular with all sectors of the community and spending a day in a country park is one of the best recreational choices in town. About 11.2 million visitors were recorded in 2014 and most visitors engaged in leisure walking, fitness exercises, hiking, barbecuing, family picnics and camping.

Facilities: Park facilities provided in recreational sites include tables and benches, barbecue pits, litter bins, children’s play apparatus, shelters, campsites and toilets which are all carefully designed to blend with the environment.

Footpaths and family walks provide easy access to the hills and the woodlands for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty. Major paths are being improved and waymarked through the hilly terrain.

Hiking becomes more popular nowadays. The four long-distance hiking trails are very popular among hikers. The MacLehose Trail (100 km) traverses the New Territories from Sai Kung in the east to Tuen Mun in the west. The Lantau Trail (70 km) is a circular trail on Lantau Island. The Hong Kong Trail (50 km) traverses all the five country parks on Hong Kong Island. The Wilson Trail (78 km) stretches from Stanley in the south of Hong Kong Island to Nam Chung in the north of the New Territories.

Along nature trails and tree walks, there are on-site interpretative plates for those who wish to study the nature. Apart from the interpretative plates, AFCD launched the "Country Parks Tree Walks" mobile application, web page, mobile game application “Forester”, and published a new book to introduce 96 tree species and other interesting plants along the 16 Country Parks Tree Walks to promote tree conservation in Hong Kong country parks. Outdoor Study Centre, Butterfly Garden and Ecological Garden were set up at Tai Po Kau, Shing Mun and Tai Lam respectively to promote nature exploration.

Before the journey:

Carefully make a plan and familiarise yourself with the route.

Gauge whether your fitness level is appropriate for the route.

Inexperienced hikers should not go hiking alone.

Pay attention to weather conditions.

Wear appropriate gear and bring along extra clothing and supplies, such as hats, raincoats, windbreakers, maps, compasses, hiking sticks, water, food, electric torches, umbrellas, radios, first-aid kits, mobile phones etc.

Download the Safeguard HK, Security Bureau Mobile App. Hikers can register with their mobile phone number and switch on the hiker tracking function on the app. This enables the app to temporarily record and track the user's location using GPS for the next 24 hours to facilitate rescue operations should there be any accident.

 During the journey:

Pay attention to the signs and terrain along the route to ensure that you are on the right path. Always heed warning signs.

Remain alert to changes in the surrounding environment. In the event of bad weather, shorten or retreat from the hike.

Do not attempt to take any shortcuts alone.

Do not litter, and please take your garbage with you.

Protect the countryside and preserve natural landscapes. Don't vandalise natural features, pollute water, or destroy vegetation, wildlife and their living environment.

Do not pick or eat wild fruit or drink spring water.

Cooking or making fires is only permitted in designated areas. It is against the law to do so elsewhere, and could result in wildfires.

Do not stand on cliff edges or climb onto rocks.

Do not swim in reservoirs or at unmanned beaches.

Mobile phone coverage varies throughout Hong Kong’s trails. Poor coverage is especially likely to occur in eastern Sai Kung and northern Plover Cove.

In the event of an emergency, note the number of the nearest distance post (e.g., M001), and call 112 or 999 or use the nearest emergency telephone.

There are two apps on the smartphone that are recommended for use during hiking. These apps require you to turn on the GPS which can drain power, remember to bring an external battery for it.

Google Map (iOS/Android, FREE) — Needless to give any introduction, Google Map is the app for navigation, it is perfect for locating yourself along the trail. 

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2020-02-28 by Cruzanne Macalligan
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