A couple of weekends ago I took one on what is probably one of the most challenging trails in Hong Kong, the Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail. Located in the southern end of Plover Cove Country Park, the trail forms a loop around Plover Cove Reservoir (船灣淡水湖), the territory’s largest freshwater reservoir by surface area. The reservoir is also the world’s first to construct a lake from a natural sea bay.
Starting at the hamlet of Wu Kau Tang, the path winds its way clockwise around the reservoir, the majority of it a well-defined dirt trail. While there are no exceptionally high peaks (295m Ma Tau Fung and 311m Kai Tsai Tung being the tallest hills), there are plenty of elevation changes to make this hike anything but boring. What makes it exceptionally challenging is the sheer distance when combined with the hillclimbs. The total trail length is 15.5km, and that’s to the official end of the trail – then tack on another 2km across the main dam before you reach public transportation at Tai Mei Tuk, the final destination.
On this hot and sunny afternoon, our efforts are rewarded with great views of an idyllic countryside during spring. The rolling hills, winding coastline, and placid reservoir below really doesn’t feel like the megacity of Hong Kong. Make no mistake, though – this was an extremely demanding hike, and not made easier by missing the trailhead and adding another 2km to the distance! Taking our time and plenty of breaks, we finally reach Tai Mei Tuk almost 10 hours later, in complete darkness and totally exhausted.