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Hikes With Tikes: The Best Hong Kong Hikes for Families

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It doesn’t get much better than autumn in Hong Kong, does it? Yup, this may just be the best time of year to get out and explore all that green out thereHong Kong is roughly three-quarters countryside, after all.  With dozens of country parks and hundreds of scenic trails for all levels, it was darn near impossible to come up with a short list of favorites – but we tried! Here is just a sampling of some of HK’s popular family hikes to enjoy with your brood, as well as some books, apps, and events to inspire you to enjoy the great outdoors!

GREEN WALKS

Chuen Lung

The Essentials
: Level: Easy; Distance: 0.5 km; Time: Approx. 30 minutes
Starting & Finishing Point: Chuen Lung Barbecue Area
Click here for Map and Directions
This relaxed family walk is located inside a BBQ site near the entrance of Chuen Lung Village along Route Twisk. Enjoy some great views and don’t miss the grabbing a bite in the Hakka village.

Dragons Back and Shek O

The Essentials
: Level: Moderate; Distance: 10km; Time: 3 Hours
Starting Point
: Shek O Road near To Tei Wen Village
Finishing Point: Shek O Village
Click here for Map and Directions
Time magazine didn’t call this Asia’s top urban hikes for nothing – the view of the South China Sea, remote islands, and Shek O village is sublime. Winding across the ridges of Shek O Country Park, this lovely hike is manageable for older kids or if you’ve got a little one in a backpack – given the sections of stairs and steep climbs it’s a tad more strenuous.   Be sure to cap off the hike off with a pizza at Black Sheep or some yummy Chinese and Thai food in Shek O village.

Pok Fu Lam Family Hike

The Essentials
: Level: Easy; Distance: 3.5km Time: Roughly 1 Hour
Starting Point: Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Management Centre
Finishing Point: Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road
Click here for Map and Directions
Take the bus from Central to the entrance of Pokfulam Reservoir Road and walk another 5 or so minutes to the start of this pleasant family walk.  At the end be sure to walk up the steps to see a super view of the Reservoir and Lamma Island.

Sheung Yiu

The Essentials
: Level: Easy; Distance: 1.8 km Time: 1 Hour
Starting Point: Sheung Yiu
Finishing Point: Tai Mong Tsai Road

Click here for Map & Directions
Located within Sai Kung Country Park, this peaceful and mostly flat family walk connects with the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail and leads to the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum.  About halfway along the route there is a picnic site that’s perfect for a short break and a bite.

Tai Tam Country Park

Tai Tam Country Park covers about 1/5 of Hong Kong Island’s land area! From Jardine’s Lookout in the north, it sprawls across rolling slopes of The Twins to end at the southern border on Stanley Gap Road.  Lots of trails, BBQ areas and even a children’s playground makes this a popular outdoor destination. Learn more here.

Hong Kong Trail

The Hong Kong Trail is a 50 kilometre walking route which passes through the five country parks on Hong Kong island.  There are 8 official stages to the Hong Kong Trail, all of which can be done individually and vary in length and difficulty – so do you research before packing up the kids! Get the 411 on each of the different hikes here, including maps, directions and more.


CITY WALKS

Bowen Road:

The Essentials: Level: (Super, Duper) Easy; Distance: 4.2km one-way, 8.4km round-trip; Time: 1.5 Hour for roundtrip
Starting Point: Bowen Road off Magazine Gap road
Finishing Point: There’s a few options – either back where you started if you make the roundtrip, near Stubbs road if you go one-way, or you can head down the hill near the playground/parking lot to Kennedy Road.
Flat, paved, shady in the afternoon, and extremely convenient.  In other words, it’s super family-friendly. Add the parking lot and mini playground and it’s a winner.  A go-to when a family member is in a pram, it’s also perfect for little ones who want to scoot or bike.

The Peak

The Essentials
: Level: Easy; Distance: 6 km; Time: 1.5 Hours.
Starting Point: The Peak
Finishing Point: Various
Click here for Map and Directions
The Peak has some wonderfully tranquil and mainly shaded, paved scenic walks. The most popular of these is the Morning Trail, the flat 3.5km circular walk along Lugard Road and Harlech Road that forms part of the Hong Kong Trail.  Throwing in a trip up on the tram and a bite on the terrace at the
Peak Lookout (which has a massive menu with something for everone) and you’ve got yourself a pretty nice excursion if you ask us.


ISLAND WALKS

Family Trail, Lamma
The Essentials: Level: Easy; Distance: 3km; Time: 1 Hour
Starting Point: Yung Shu Wan
Finishing Point: Sok Kwu Wan
Click here for Map and Directions
Lamma is a fantastic location for a breath of fresh air and break from the constant hustle of the city – and the Family Trail is perfect for…well…families! Meandering through the island’s green interior, this paved trail runs between the two main villages of Yung Shu Wan and Sok Kwu Wan.  Starting in Yung Shue Wan you’ll find a handful of little al fresco bars and we love the seafood restaurants in Sok Kwu Wan.  And don’t forget the ferry ride!

Lantau

The Essentials
: Level: Easy to Moderate; Distance: 7.5km; Time: 3 Hours
Starting Point: Po Lin Monastery
Finishing Point: Tung Chung MTR
Click here for Map and Directions

Clear a bit more of your calendar for this one, but it’s worth it.  Between the
Ngong Ping 360 cable car, Po Lin Monastery, the Big Buddha, and temples and other sites, there is a ton to do on Lantau.  Don’t miss the vegetarian fare at the monastery, or take the bus down to Silvermine Bay and head to Stoep for traditional South African BBQ right on the beach.

NEED A GUIDE?

New at all this and want someone to show you the way?
All you had to do was ask!  Check out the “Great Outdoors Hong Kong 2011” events all this Autumn and Winter.  Co-organized by HK’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Hong Kong Tourism Board they’ve got loads of organized family hikes all across HK, including Dragon’s Back.

Walk Hong Kong also offers special family guided hikes all around Hong Kong. Check out their regular schedule of guided hikes, which are open to families with kids over eight.  They also can organize something special just for you – be it a urban walk through the markets or a family-friendly hike through one of Hong Kong’s Country Parks.

GET THE APP

Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has just launched a FREE iPhone, iPad and Android app to showcase various hiking trails in Hong Kong.  Search for hikes based on your interests and fitness level, review maps, directions in English or Chinese, and more…Yeah, it’s sorta brilliant.

ESSENTIAL BOOKS:

A few books to get us in the mood:

The Leisurely Hiker’s Guide Hong Kong, by Pete Spurrier

The Serious Hiker’s Guide to Hong Kong, by Pete Spurrier
Pretty self-explanatory we think!  These books are jam-packed with details. Available at Bookazine (HK$260).

And for the wee ones:

The Dragon’s Back, by Theadora Whittington
Chinese fung shui tells us there is a dragon inhabiting every green valley, protective of the mountains and its route to the sea. We love the illustrations of this sweet story, as well as a gentle message of environmental stewardship. Available at Bookazine (HK$85).

BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT THE DOOR:
-Bring more water than you think you’ll need.  Dehydration is serious stuff – even in the cooler Autumn months.

-Whip up a big ziploc bag of gorp – the tasty mix of peanuts, raisins, m&ms, and other yummy things gives you a boost and will quiet little hikers.

-Even though it’s cooler, don’t forget hats, sunscreen, and bug repellent.

-Before you go, jot down these helpful numbers and tips to make sure you can stay in touch while enjoying some of Hong Kong’s gorgeous parks.

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