At a height of 702 meters, Ma On Shan (馬鞍山, literally Horse Saddle Mountain) stands among the ten highest peaks in Hong Kong. Bordering Sha Tin and Tai Po districts, its distinctive shape is easily recognizable from the surrounding townships; together with its adjacent summit, The Hunchbacks (牛押山, also known as Ngau Ngak Shan) at 677 meters, the two peaks are connected by a narrow ridge that forms the shape of a horse’s saddle. This is a fairly strenuous hike over a distance of 9 kilometers with plenty of climbing, but the stunning views make it well worth the effort.
There are several ways to approach the ridge, but the most popular starting at the BBQ site in Ma On Shan Country Park. This is a moderately challenging route that climbs several peaks, eventually reaching the Hunchbacks and then moving on to Ma On Shan peak. Along the way you’ll need to do some clambering with your hands, but the route is clearly marked and you’ll have plenty of company as it is a popular hike.
As you gain altitude, marvel at the views of Ma On Shan town and Tolo Harbour below.
After what feels like a never-ending climb, we finally reach The Hunchbacks, the twelfth-highest mountain in Hong Kong. This is a great place to take a break and have your lunch, and admire the views of Three Fathoms Cove below. From this vantage point, the ridge that connects to Ma On Shan peak is clearly visible. Get ready to cross the saddle!
From Ma On Shan peak, the views to the east open up and in the distance our final destination is visible: Sai Kung town. The descent from the top follows a steep path that eventually connects to Stage 4 of the MacLehose Trail. Now comes the tricky downhill section – be aware of loose rocks and slippery gravel! It helps to have a hiking stick here, and proper footwear is essential.
Once on the MacLehose Trail, simply follow it around Pyramid Hill 大金鐘 (or climb it, if you are feeling energetic) and arrive at Ngong Ping plateau with its popular campsite and great views of Sai Kung town. The rest of the route is downhill – shortly after the campsite, take the Ma On Shan Country Trail that leads directly to Sai Kung where you can have a well-deserved seafood dinner.