Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail, a portion of which is known as the Dragon’s Back (龍脊), traverses Shek O Country Park in the south east corner of Hong Kong Island. This is a very popular route, and the most familiar to visitors to the city – practically every guide book and tourist blog recommends the Dragon’s Back as the hike to do when in town.
Sweeping views of Shek O village and bay.
While I personally think it is a little overrated (there are better trails on Lantau Island or the New Territories, or even the nearby unofficial route to Cape D’Aguilar), it is easy to see why the trail is popular with first-time hikers and visitors. The trail-head is easily accessed by bus or taxi from Shau Kei Wan MTR station, and for little effort the payoffs in sweeping views are worthwhile – all without leaving the comforts of Hong Kong Island. The vast greenery and rolling countryside is a great contrast to the glistening skyscrapers and dense population of the metropolis. During hot summer months you can also take a dip in the ocean at Big Wave Bay beach after finishing the hike.
When I took this route a few weeks ago, the city was under a spring monsoon with hazy skies and gusty winds, but Dragon’s Back was busy as usual (locally, hiking has experienced a surge in popularity these past couple of years). Visibility was not great, and the weather conditions offered a different experience from the views normally associated with this trail. At just over 7km and moderately easy, it’s one of the many options available to enjoy Hong Kong’s countryside.
The trail head is easily reached by public transport- get off at To Tei Wan bus stop.
The first section through some thick growth gets the climbing out of the way.
Looking west over Red Hill (白筆山) and Tai Tam Bay.
Tai Tam Tuk (大潭篤) and inner harbour.
To the east, Shek O village and its popular beach.
One of the massive boulders perched on the hilltop.
And another one just opposite. They’ve probably been given creative names.
With most of the climbing behind us, the remainder of the trail is quite easy. Just follow the dirt path.
The mountain ridge that is the Dragon’s Back!
Fine view of Tai Tam Bay and Stanley village just beyond.
Shek O Country Club below us.
Looking back at D’Aguilar Peninsula (鶴咀).
A few of the many hikers on the trail this day, despite the weather.
Shek O Peak, at 284m the highest point on the Dragon’s Back.
More ridge hiking through Shek O Country Park.
Taking a break on the rollercoaster ride?
The rolling countryside seems a world away from the city. Is this really Hong Kong?
Super windy during the spring monsoon.
Our final destination is Big Wave Bay (大浪灣) village. Looks close, but we’re taking the long way around.
After the ridge, the descent begins through typical thick vegetation.
Onwards to Big Wave Bay. Where did all these people come from!?
Looking north towards Chai Wan district.
The rest of the Section 8 trail is through forest with nothing much to see…
…Until finally we reach Tai Long Wan village.
This way to the beach! Though a bit too chilly to take a dip today.
The end (or start) of the trail. For some reason it says Section 10, but this is actually Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail.