Asia Above the Fray

The MacLehose Trail: Hong Kong

Oct 4, 2001
Outside Magazine

Most Asian adventure-travel itineraries include Hong Kong merely as a convenient connecting point or a brief stopover for souvenir shopping en route to or from more remote locations. But the MacLehose Trail, which snakes 62 miles across Hong Kong's New Territories, offers a different perspective that even city-phobic travelers can appreciate.

This mountainous six-day trek, from Sai Kung Peninsula in the east to the ancient port of Tuen Mun in the west, traverses subtropical forest and grassy wildflower slopes as it shoots you high above the throngs to view the South China Sea and the rugged hills of China. Linking eight of the region's more than 20 country parks, the trail reaches its apex atop Tai Mo Shan, at 3,232 feet the region's highest mountain.
Through-hikers should figure on about 35 hours to cover the entire trail, pitching a ten in campgrounds or staying hostels along the way. The hike begins gently; the tough sections occur between Pak Tam Au and Tate's Cairn at the Gilwell campsite, a 14-mile stretch that you reach on either the second or forth day, depending on which end of the trail serves as your starting point. At the small villages along the route you can stop for provisions such as sea cucumber in oyster sauce that'll make you relegate your freeze-dried meals and energy bars to the bottom of your backpack.

The ideal season is October through December. Summit Tai Mo Shan in clear weather and you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of the New Territories' northwestern plains and the Chinese coastline. The urban mayhem of Hong Kong down below will seem like an exotic dream.

Get maps and trail descriptions from the Country and Marine Parks Authority in Kowloon; call 011.852.2733.2132. The main ranger office (011.852.2420.0529) is also a good source of information. The hostels charge about $5 for members of International Youth Hostels, $8 for non-members. Reservations are advised: call 011.852.2788.1638. Campsites are either free or run a mere $2-3 per night. For additional information contact the Hong Kong Tourism Association's New York office at 212.421.3382 or call 800.282.4582 to obtain brochures.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Got Wanderlust?

Escape your daily grind with Outside’s best getaways.

Thank you!