With incredible views and less crowded than Victoria Peak, Mount High West is one of my favorite hikes in Hong Kong. It's located on the western side of Hong Kong island and the trail is easily accessible by public transportation. Even though it's a steep climb, it's a relatively short hike in exchange for incredible 360 degree views at the top. The densely forested walk through Lung Fu Shan Country Park will even have you wondering if you're still in Hong Kong. In this hiking guide, I'll take you from Kennedy Town up to Mount High West through the beautiful park to discover these stunning views and more.
Preparing to Hike up Mount High West
Since trails are scattered all over Hong Kong Island, you can approach Mount High West a variety of ways. Because I live in Kennedy Town, a neighborhood west of High West, I start the hike there completing a loop that is approximately 7.0 km or 4.3 mi round-trip starting and finishing at the Kennedy Town MTR station.
You'll notice on the Google map below it estimates 2.25 hours for the entire hike. I think you should plan on at least 3-3.5 hours unless you're a fast hiker. It took me 4 hours the last time because I spent so long taking photos!
If you take a bus from Central to Pok Fu Lam instead of MTR'ing to Kennedy Town, it will save you a bunch of steps and some time (more on the buses later in the guide).
Pro Tip: Although the hike is mostly paved or stone, it's still a good idea to wear sneakers with good grip. When damp the paved pathways and stone steps become slippery. And if it's been raining heavily, the trail gets rather muddy in spots.
Who Should Hike It?
Although a short hike, it is incredibly steep. You'll climb from sea level to the top of the peak - 494 m or 1,621 ft - in ~3 km or 2 mi. At various points, the trail is just long stairways but you'll find sitting out areas and pavilions along the way with benches where you can rest. As long as you are able to climb stairs and steep inclines, you should be able to complete this hike.
Looking for another hike with great views? Check out my post on hiking Mui Wo to Pui O Beach!
When to Hike It?
This trail is great throughout the year, but I recommend a clear day with low pollution levels. Since the views are the main reason to go - you don't want them obstructed by smog! Many months in Hong Kong (~May-Oct) can be brutally hot and humid. Since this hike is straight uphill, you may want to avoid it during these months.
Another consideration for Mount High West is the wind. Since the final part of the trail is a ridge on top of the peak, if it's a really windy day, you may find yourself getting blown around a bit! Be sure to hang on to your hat, camera, water bottles, etc.!
Since it's a short hike and close to the city, you can start this hike at any point in the day and be fine. Though you may need a flashlight if it gets dark to see the trail, you'll probably still be able to see the city lights!
Items for Your Hike
You probably have your own list of things to bring when you go hiking, but here are a few of my recommendations for this particular hike.
Starting the Hike in Kennedy Town
Although you can access Mount High West from various points on Hong Kong Island, the trail that I use starts just off Pok Fu Lam Road above Kennedy Town. Click here for the Google map from the MTR to the trail, then follow the guide below.
To get to the trail, take the MTR to Kennedy Town, exit B. Once you exit the MTR, turn right on Rock Hill Road and walk one block to Sands Street.
New to Hong Kong? Check out this Guide to Using Public Transportation in Hong Kong!
When you reach Sands Street, you'll see an elevator beside several stairs. You decide which you prefer to take but start heading upwards. I generally take the elevator since there are plenty more stairs on the hike to come. The elevator saves 65 steps!
Next you'll see an escalator next to a steep hill - again, you decide - but head up the hill. At the last staircase, turn left onto To Li Terrace (82 steps). Then walk towards the end of the terrace, noting the beautiful roof of a small temple on the terrace below.
If you want to visit the temple, walk up the staircase right before To Li Terrace (Ching Lin Terrace). Or you could walk past it on your way back down. At the end of To Li Terrace, turn right to head up a long stairway (140 steps). These stairs will take you up to Pok Fu Lam Road.
Once you get to Pok Fu Lam Road, you'll see the start of the hike across the street to the left of the petrol station.
To cross the street, turn right and walk a few meters to the subway (underground walkway, not the MTR). Head down the stairs. At the bottom, turn left to walk under the road, then left again to walk up the ramp to the other side of Pok Fu Lam Road. You'll come up to a couple petrol stations as well as a bus stop. Cross to the stairway to the left of the petrol stations.
If you're not starting the hike in Kennedy Town, you may wish to take the bus to the Pokfield Road; Pok Fu Lam Road bus stop rather than the MTR. Several routes stop here including 4, 37A, and 90B from Central. Use the Citybus-NWFB App to find out route information. Taking the bus will allow you to skip the climb up from Kennedy Town and begin the hike immediately.
The Hiking Plan
The overall plan for this hike is to climb up Mount High West. On the return hike, I'll guide you to a few other sites as well - Pinewood Battery, the Chinese Herbal Garden, and the Hill Above Belcher's Falls. Then we'll finish at the same place we started the hike - either the petrol stations/bus stop or Kennedy Town MTR station. The map below shows the full hike, but you can adjust it based on where you start (click to open it in Google maps).
Starting the Hike - Lots of Stairs
You'll begin the hike at the long stairway to the left of the petrol stations. This is one of the steepest parts of the hike. Head up the stairs (215 steps). At the top, you can rest at the sitting out area overlooking HKU's campus.
After resting for a bit, continue up the steps into the forest, following signs towards Pinewood Battery (182 steps).
At the flat stone path, cross over to the stairs and continue upwards (159 steps). Hiking the trail earlier this week, I noticed they're working on some of the man-made slopes along the sides of the pathway. It didn't look like the work was affecting any of the trails though.
At the top of the steps, you'll come to a pavilion where you can rest for a bit. The views from this pavilion are excellent and there's usually a nice breeze coming up from Victoria Harbour.
Next Step - Switchbacks
The next part of the trail consists of four steep switchbacks on a paved path. You'll continue upwards and find the view getting better and better as you climb. If it's damp, watch out for certain slick, mossy sections of the road.
When you reach a fork in the road with a couple benches, turn left. You'll follow the signs for The Peak.
Connecting with Hatton Road / Morning Trail
Once you turn, you'll walk a few meters and connect with a larger pathway. This is Hatton Road or the Morning Trail. Turn right and continue climbing on the paved pathway. The Morning Trail has lights along it so it's possible to hike on this trail at night.
If you prefer to visit Pinewood Battery on your way up, take the stone staircase at your right as soon as you reach the Morning Trail. These stairs will lead you up to Pinewood Battery.
Since I prefer to hike down stairs rather than up them, I save the battery trail for the way down. Plus, the Morning Trail has lovely views to stop and admire whenever I need to rest!
Hatton Road Public Toilets - New & Clean
You're almost to the final ascent when you reach the (upper) Hatton Road Public Toilets. These toilets deserve a special mention, in my opinion, because they were under renovation for over a year and finally opened this past spring (2019). They're some of the fanciest public toilets I've seen in Hong Kong, let alone on a hiking trail! Features include automatic hand-wave toilets and sinks, toilet paper, and hand soap!
High West Picnic Area
Directly after the toilets, you'll come to the High West Picnic Area. This is a great place for, I bet you can guess - a picnic! It's also a good spot to rest before the final climb up to the Mount High West summit.
To get to the Mount High West Trail, head straight across the road towards the stairs up to the park. Walk past the exercise equipment until you reach the set of stairs going down.
Final Climb to Mount High West
Follow the stone path towards a large dirt/grassy open area with some benches and a view of Mount High West. Towards the left of this area, you'll see a set of stairs. That's your trail! You'll climb up ~550 steps* to the top.
*As the views got better at the top, I may have lost track counting the final ~50 steps or so!
As you climb, the views will continue to get more stunning. At the summit, you'll have magnificent 360 degree views! The trail ends at a viewpoint with helpful signs pointing out various Hong Kong landmarks, islands, and mountains.
Curious about that island off in the distance? Check out my post about hiking on Lamma Island!
Pro Tip: If you hike on a weekday, it's far less crowded than a weekend. On my latest hike - Tuesday midday - I was at the summit for 30 minutes and no one else came along! On the weekends, you won't usually have the place to yourself, but it's still nothing like the crowds at Victoria Peak.
Once you've taken in these incredible views, you'll head back down the trail the same way you came up and return to the High West Picnic Area.
Pinewood Battery Heritage Trail
Heading back down from Mount High West, I hike on a section of the Pinewood Battery Heritage Trail. To get to this trail, start walking back down on the Morning Trail the same way you came up. After a couple hundred meters, you'll see a stone stairway on the left side of the Morning Trail and a sign pointing towards Pinewood Battery that you should follow.
This route is primarily stone stairs, sometimes steep, or a stone pathway with occasional views above the treeline. You'll also pass numerous BBQ areas where a lot of Hongkongers gather on the weekends with family and friends.
Keep following signs towards Pinewood Battery. When you start to see signs about Pinewood Battery, you're almost there. For those of you keeping track, it's 275 steps down to Pinewood Battery, with 23 steps back up right before you get to the main area.
Pinewood Battery was constructed by the British during the 1930s to reinforce Hong Kong's defenses. The battery was evacuated during the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941 after being damaged in a Japanese air-raid.
After exploring the battery, continue down the hill (317 steps) until you reach Hatton Road/ the Morning Trail. Take an immediate left to head back the way you came and to continue with my route.
If you go right and continue down on the Morning Trail, you'll exit the park in the Mid-Levels above Sai Ying Pun. From here, you can wind your way down through the city streets to an MTR or bus stop.
Want a more remote hike? Check out Hiking to Ham Tin Beach in Sai Kung!
Hill Above Belcher's Falls
If you still have time and energy to spare, continue on to the Hill Above Belcher's Falls. I don't know if this is the official name for these falls, but it's the way they are listed on Google. They know everything, right? Hill Above Belcher's is an area of Hong Kong and the falls are just above this area, so I guess the name makes sense.
I stumbled upon these falls accidentally while trying a different route back from Mount High West once. Normally, it's a nice waterfall. But this past week when I went, it much more impressive! It's been raining so often in Hong Kong lately that the falls were much fuller than they normally are.
Getting to Hill Above Belcher's Falls
After you turn left off of the Morning Trail, you'll shortly come to another fork in the road. If you want to continue straight down without visiting the falls, turn right at the fork towards Pokfield Road and continue back the way you came up.
If you'd like to visit the falls, turn left towards Planting Site No. 1 and walk for a few hundred meters on the paved path. Keep going straight until the paved path ends. Once you see a set of stone stairs, take those down towards Planting Site No. 1 of the Chinese Herbal Garden.
Chinese Herbal Garden
You'll continue down the stone stairs until you reach the Chinese Herbal Garden (328 steps). The first planting site in Lung Fu Shan Country Park (the park in which you've been walking) was developed in 1998. Now there are over 300 species of Chinese medicinal herbs in the garden.
Once you reach the sign about the herb garden as well as a rock walk and little sitting out area, find the hidden staircase behind the rock walk to continue to the falls. The path is a bit muddy and slippery so be careful as you walk down (62 steps).
The path down to the waterfall and beside the waterfall isn't on Google map, but you'll meet back up with it at the bottom of the falls.
Pro Tip: You should be able to hear the falls at the top of the stairs. If you can't hear them, it may not be worth the climb down since it means the water level is very low. When they're full, you can hear the rushing falls before you even reach the herb garden!
Do you like peak hikes? Try The Twins Hike - From Wong Nai Chung to Stanley!
Hill Above Belcher's Falls
Once you reach the falls, cross to the opposite side and use the rock stairs to climb up the right side of the falls. (Right side when you're looking up at the falls.)
When you're ready to head down, turn around and continue down the same side you're on (now the left side). Once the rock trail disappears on the left side, cross back over the water to the other side. You can continue down this side until you reach the path at the bottom.
Once you reach the bottom, you'll meet up with another stone pathway and go right on that path. Keep going until you reach the trail down to Pok Fu Lam Road that you came up on.
It will be the second path you come to. The first will also take you to Pok Fu Lam Road, but further south so you'll have to walk back on the busy road if you take that one instead of in the green forest. I prefer the forest path!
Once you're back on the trail downwards, continue following signs to Pok Fu Lam Road as you come to any forks in the trail. This part of the hike should look familiar as it's the same way you came up a few hours ago!
Eventually you'll be back at the petrol stations and bus stop. Here you can either catch a bus back to Central or continue down to Kennedy Town via the subway/stairs you used previously.
If you're not from Kennedy Town and are looking for things to do in the area, be sure to check out my post on How to Spend the Day in Kennedy Town!
Ready to Hike?
I hope you found this hiking guide useful and will give this hike a try! It's one of my favorites and I think the views are worth a bit of soreness in the legs the next day! If you do this hike (or have already done it), let me know what you think in the comments below!
Find more hikes in Hong Kong and abroad on the Hiking Guides page!