The Lion Rock hike is famous in Hong Kong for the incredible views you'll find atop the steep rocky cliffs which from afar resemble a lion. On a clear day, you'll be amazed at the panoramic views of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island from this picturesque trail. In this hiking guide, I'll show you the way to hike up to Lion Rock then continue along the trail to Beacon Hill for a perfect day in nature!
Preparing to Hike Lion Rock
Due to its location on a mountain ridge between northern Kowloon and Tai Wai in New Territories, you can access Lion Rock via a variety of trails. In this hiking guide, I'll show you how to hike from Wong Tai Sin MTR up to Lion Rock. Then, we'll continue on to Beacon Hill and Eagle's Nest, finally ending at the Lai Chi Kok MTR station.
This Lion Rock hiking route is a moderate-difficult ~11-km (6.8 mi) hike in Lion Rock Country Park which took us ~5 hours to complete.
Pro Tip: You can reduce the distance and time of the hike by taking a taxi to the trailhead from the Wong Tai Sin Station, then a taxi or bus from the trailhead to Lai Chi Kok Station. We chose to walk the entire way which took much longer.
Who Should Hike It?
Since Lion Rock is a famous Hong Kong hike, I'd like to say everyone should do it! The views are spectacular and much of the trail is climbing a combination of stone, concrete, or wooden stairs.
However, the section up to the Lion Rock Head could be a struggle for beginner hikers or those who have a fear of heights as it involves rock scrambling and steep cliffs. If you're uncertain about the rock scrambles, there is an alternate way around the summit on the MacLehose Trail Sec. 5.
When to Hike It?
The best time Lion Rock would be on a cool and clear winter day during the middle of the week. But let's be honest, how often do we get these perfect circumstances?
Because the climb to Lion Rock is a steep and sweaty one, I chose to wait until winter to hike it. It was nice to have the cooler temperatures as many parts of the trail are in the sun. However, it was a bit hazier than I would've liked.
If you go during the summer, be sure to get an early start to avoid the midday heat. Alternatively, hike up in the late afternoon as Lion Rock is the perfect spot to watch the sunset!
Due to its popularity, I'd recommend hiking Lion Rock on a weekday instead of the weekend, if possible. Even on a Monday, a lot of people were hiking this trail. Granted, it was the Monday before Christmas so perhaps more people were taking off work that day which is why it was so crowded.
Not sure this is the hike you want? Find more Hong Kong hiking guides here!
Items for Your Hike
Although you probably have your own list of what to bring, here are some items not to forget:
Getting To Lion Rock Country Park
As I mentioned before, you can access Lion Rock Country Park from either northern Kowloon or the Tai Wai neighborhood in New Territories.
We began our hike at the Wong Tai Sin MTR Station (Kwun Tong Line) in Kowloon. From this station, you can access the Lion Rock Country Park entrance by:
Overview of Lion Rock Hike
The Lion Rock hike that we took from Wong Tai Sin Station to Lai Chi Kok Station was ~11-km (6.8 mi) long. Since we walked to/from both MTR stations, I included them in the overall hiking map.
As I mentioned, you could easily shorten the hike by taking a taxi to/from the start/end points of the trail. In this hiking guide, I've divided the hike into sections to make it easier to follow and see how this trail could be broken up into shorter hikes.
Pro Tip: If you're only interested in the Lion Rock Loop Trail, use this map instead to start at and return to Wong Tai Sin MTR Station.
Section 1 - Wong Tai Sin Station to Lion Rock Trailhead
When you arrive at the Wong Tai Sin Station, take exit E out of the station and head to the left up Shatin Pass Road. The walk up Shatin Pass Road is fairly straight and steep. If you prefer to take the minibus, you'll find the stop almost as soon as you exit the MTR on Shatin Pass Road.
About halfway to the trailhead, you'll pass Fat Jong Temple and the road narrows. Cars can still drive on this section so be aware of them coming up around you. Despite the incline, the road is paved so it's a fairly easy walk up the hill.
As we walked up the road, we saw a family of macaque monkeys off to the side. The baby was adorable but the dad seemed grumpy.
If you look off to the right across the hillside, you'll see the Temple Hill Kwun Yam Temple. There's a path further up the road which leads over to it.
Section 2 - MacLehose Trail, Sec. 5
The entrance to Lion Rock Country Park is shortly before Shap Yi Watt Village and Lion's Pavilion. This is where you'll begin the trail portion of the hike on the MacLehose Trail, Sec. 5.
Pro Tip: If you need a bathroom break or think you might need more water/snacks for the hike, head up to Shap Yi Watt Village before starting the Lion Rock Trail. There is a small snack shop and decent public toilets in the village.
The first section of the trail consists of mostly well-maintained stairs and dusty paths. As you climb, you'll have lookout spots where you can begin to appreciate those amazing views.
From the start of the trail to Lion Rock Peak is ~ 2 km (1.25 mi) and you'll climb ~230 m (755 ft).
After ~1.5 km, you'll come to a fork in the trail. The turn off for Lion Rock Peak is to the left. If you (or someone in your group) prefer to skip the peak, you'll continue straight on the MacLehose Trail. The trails meet back up again around the other side of the rocky peak.
Even though the stairs are steep, they seemed less rocky and easier to navigate on this side of Lion Rock Peak. If I were going up for sunset, I think I'd climb down in the dark on the eastern side vs. the western side of the peak.
Speaking of Sha Tin, have you explored the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery yet?
Section 3 - Lion Rock Head
Once you reach the ridge, you'll have a panorama of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. On the opposite side of the ridge, you can see Tai Wai, Sha Tin, and more country parks in the New Territories.
Since we hiked up Lion Rock on a fairly hazy day, it was difficult to make out HK Island as well as I would've liked. Regardless, the views were impressive!
Continue along the rocky trail to reach Lion Rock which juts up from the ridge. The trail at the top is dusty so it can get slippery. Don't be afraid to hang on to the rocks around you! I'm partial to the sliding-on-my-butt technique when the occasion calls for it.
You'll have to scramble a bit to reach the top of Lion Rock Peak, then come back down the same way to continue on the hike. This is a spot where you might encounter a traffic jam on a crowded day.
Looking for another challenging rock scramble? Check out the High Junk Peak Hike!
When you're finished taking in the views from Lion Rock Peak, you'll scramble down the trail on the other side. Like I said, it's a rocky, uneven trail on this side so watch those ankle turns! After ~500 m (~0.3 mi), you'll meet back up with the MacLehose Trail, Sec 5.
Section 4 - MacLehose Trail Sec. 5 to Beacon Hill
Shortly after meeting back up with the MacLehose Trail, Sec 5, you'll have the option to end your Lion Rock Hike or keep going to Beacon Hill. Since this was our first time on the trail, we decided to continue to Beacon Hill.
This part of the trail seemed to have more shade which would be a welcome relief in the summertime. The trail was a mix of flat paths and more stairs to climb to the Beacon Hill Viewing Point. Despite the haze, we had a decent view from this lookout.
Upon reaching Beacon Hill itself, you can't see much. There's a large tower at the top of the hill but you cannot climb it. Plus, the trees mostly block the view.
At this point walk down the road a bit until you reach the Eagle's Nest Nature Trail to continue the hike.
Section 6 - Eagle's Nest (Crow's Nest) Nature Trail
As you walk down the road, look out for the Eagle's Nest Nature Trail (also labeled Crow's Nest Nature Trail on Google Maps). You'll climb down some well-maintained stairs at the beginning of this trail, but it eventually evens out into a nice nature walk through the woods.
Along the way, you'll come to some excellent lookout points for watching the sunset.
To finish the hike, be sure to turn left at the fork in the trail to go down towards Tai Po Road. This path is not as well maintained and feels like you've taken a wrong turn, but don't worry - that's the trail!
For another great sunset hike, check out Mount High West on HK Island!
Section 7 - Tai Po Road to Lai Chi Kok Station
When you reach Tai Po Road, you can either hail a taxi, hop on a bus, or walk to an MTR station. We chose to walk to Lai Chi Kok MTR Station.
In retrospect, we should have taken the 72 bus. It stops right next to the end of the trail and terminates at the Cheung Sha Wan Bus Terminus - right next to the Lai Chi Kok MTR Station.
The walk to the MTR from the trail is ~1.6 km (1 mi) long and should take ~25 minutes. One good thing about walking this section is the hillside temples and monkeys that hang out at them along the way. Some of the monkeys seemed a bit rambunctious so be cautious when walking around them.
Pro Tip: Crossing the bridge over the highway after seeing the temples, we got a bit lost trying to get around the medical center. The trick is to make sure you climb all the way down the stairs after the bridge so you can take the tunnel under the medical center entrance. Don't take the first ramp beside the highway because there's no way to get down to Lai Chi Kok!
As you can see, the Lion Rock hike is a gorgeous hike which earns its fame with stunning panoramic views and an impressive rocky peak. Whether you decide to hike the entire way to Beacon Hill or just do the Lion Rock loop hike, it's a fantastic Hong Kong hiking experience!
Have you hiked Lion Rock before? What did you think of this hike?