Monday, 26 March 2012

Hong Kong Peak Trail Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7 km (4.3 miles), terrain hilly

Hong Kong running routes:
Hong Kong, Bowen Road midlevels run
Hong Kong Peak Trail route

For more running routes, see Route List.

Photos courtesy of Flickr CreativeCommons

Here's a route that you can't beat if you have a free day in Hong Kong. It's a bit isolated, 300 meters up in the central mountains of Hong Kong Island, so you probably won't have time to get up there on a workday.

But if you're lucky enough to have a free day in busy, crowded Hong Kong, you're probably ready to get out into nature with a trail like this: running through woods with constant vistas of the skyscrapers below, the glittering seas and the further islands and mountains of Hong Kong.
Amazing sunrise view from the Peak Trail, photo by slack12
This route follows part of Hong Kong Trail. The 50km trail meanders past the peaks, through the wooded hills above the narrow island coastline all around. The whole interior of the island is fairly unpopulated, covered by Hong Kong's various country parks, and the Hong Kong Trail connects them in 8 sections.

This route follows Section 1, beginning at the Peak tram station. The "Peak" is Victoria Peak, a 500-meter hill rising right above the Central District (called "Victoria" in the British colonial days) and Kennedy Town in the northwest corner of the island.

NOTE: Another great run or hike that I have done is to start at the same spot, turn left onto Peak Drive and run the 600 meters to Gough Hill Path, where you turn right then continue downhill down Peel Rise until you run into the Hong Kong Trail. Turn left to get onto section 3 of the trail to Wan Chai Gap, where you can either take a bus back to the city or run down Wan Chai Gap Road the 180 meters of height difference back to Wan Chai. There are great views of Aberdeen (the main town on the south coast of the island) and Aberdeen Reservoir from there, and lots of beautiful Chinese nature.

And getting there is one of the highlights of the trip: riding the Peak Tram. This 125-year-old conveyance heads straight uphill to Victoria Gap, the starting point of the run. Buy your round-trip ticket on the Peak Tram down at the Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus, right near Hong Kong Park. Round trip tickets cost HK$65, and the tram runs from 7 am to 12 midnight, leaving every 10- to 15 minutes.
The Peak Tram, photo by iambents
The tram heads straight uphill, one of the most interesting rides on the island (the others being the ancient double-decker streetcars in Wan Chai, and the old ferries to Kowloon).
Peak Station Tower, photo by leef_smith
When you get out of the Peak Station turn right and take the narrow road leading directly along the side of the station, Lugard Road. This road will take you counter-clockwise around Victoria peak. You will immediately begin experiencing the wonderful panoramas to the north: Central District and Kowloon across the channel. The new skyscrapers have been marching up the hillsides in recent decades. Let's hope that they will never be allowed up here!
View of Central District from the Peak Trail, photo by ThirstyInLA
The first 1 km will go slightly uphill (60 meters rise), then the next 3 kilometers will go downhill (100 meters downwards). It will then rise 100 meters over the final 2.7 km.

Some parts of Lugard Road are jungley, with banyan trees planting their hundreds of air-roots on both sides of the paved path.

After 2 kilometers, Lugard Road runs into Harlech Road. You could continue straight back to the Peak station from here, just 1 km due east along Harlech Road, but we'll continue following the Hong Kong Trail. It turns right, to head due west along Harlech, going downhill, with High West Peak on the left side (there's also a little trail going off to the left to go up to that peak, for anyone who wants some extra adventure).
Harlech Road waterfall, photo by ThirstyInLA
At the end of Harlech Road there is a lookout spot for the great panorama to the west. The buildings Queen Mary Hospital line the slope below you.

Now, continue downhill here as the path winds around High West towards the south. You will go slightly downhill for a kilometer, until you make a left turn above the valley for the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.
Hong Kong Trail stream, photo by Charles Mok
Now the trail begins going back uphill as you run up the wooded valley.

The trail will run into Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road, where you turn left and continue uphill straight back to the Peak Station.
Looking back over Pok Fu Lam, photo by ThirstyInLA
I hope that gave you a taste for more: the trails of Hong Kong Island and the nearby islands Lantau and Lamma are an outdoors paradise!

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