Hiking to Lantau Peak via the Middle Dog Teeth Range is a fantastic adventure for experienced hikers in Hong Kong. This short, yet steep hike offers incredible views as you scramble up the rocky and exposed trail to Hong Kong's second highest peak. As one of the most difficult hikes in Hong Kong, it's not for everyone. But if you love a challenge, this hike on Lantau Island might be perfect for you!
Hiking to Lantau Peak via Dog Teeth Range
Lantau Peak, or Fung Wong Shan, which literally means 'Phoenix Mountain' in Cantonese, is Hong Kong's second highest peak at 934 m (3,064 ft). Although you can hike to this peak several ways, scaling one of the steep, rocky trails up Dog Teeth Ridge, or Kau Nga Ling, is by far the most challenging.
Kau Nga Ling, the Dog Teeth Range, is made up of three trails - West Dog Teeth, Middle Dog Teeth, and East Dog Teeth. I've heard West Dog Teeth is the most difficult, but so far, have only tried Middle Dog Teeth.
Middle Dog Teeth to Lantau Peak
The hike I'll cover in this post is the route up the Middle Dog Teeth Range (also called Middle Dog's Teeth) and continuing to Lantau Peak. From Lantau Peak, we finished on the Lantau Trail, Sec. 3 down to Pak Kung Au. Although a short hike at 6.5 km (4 mi), it's a steep climb and took us almost 6 hours to complete it (with many breaks).
Fun Fact: Despite Lantau Peak being Hong Kong's second highest peak, its summit is actually the highest point a regular person in Hong Kong can visit. This is because the Hong Kong Observatory sits atop Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong's tallest peak at 957 m. The observatory grounds are restricted which means visitors can only climb to ~920 m, whereas on Lantau Peak, you can stand on the summit at 934 m.
Who Should Hike It?
The Middle Dog Teeth Ridge hike on Lantau Island is one of the most difficult hikes in Hong Kong, so I'd recommend it only for experienced hikers.
At times, the trail turns into rocky boulders which require you to climb using your hands to navigate. If you have a fear of heights or getting your hands dirty, this trail is not for you. Given the straight uphill sections, I'd also recommend a good level of physical fitness for this trail.
If you'd like to climb Lantau Peak but want an easier route, I'd recommend beginning at Pak Kung Au or Ngong Ping instead. If you take those trails, you'll still get a good workout climbing all the stone steps, but it's a less dangerous route.
If you're looking for a good practice hike for rock scrambles, I'd recommend this hike up to the Hunch Backs and Ma On Shan in New Territories.
When to Hike It?
Since you'll want to appreciate the stunning views from the trail, I recommend picking a clear day. However, make sure it's a fairly cool one and perhaps not too sunny! This trail is very exposed and gets quite hot.
When we hiked Middle Dog Teeth, it started out sunny and clear but I was so relieved when the clouds rolled in as we climbed. The clouds, plus the breeze, probably saved me from heat exhaustion and it was only in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (low 20s C).
Items for Your Hike
Other Clothing Considerations for the Middle Dog Teeth Hike
Since the Middle Dog Teeth trail is not as well maintained as some trails, you have to fight your way through some forested areas. I was wearing shorts and a tank top and got scratched up quite a bit by random branches. Personally, I'd rather be scratched up than hot, but if you want to avoid the scratches, you might consider wearing longer clothes.
Also, the rocks you'll have to climb up are rather rough and can scratch up your hands (and any rings you have on). I saw quite a few people wearing gloves and thought that would be a good idea.
Getting To the Middle Dog Teeth Trail
The Middle Dog Teeth trail begins at the Shek Pik Reservoir on western Lantau Island. You can get there easily from either Tung Chung or Mui Wo.
From Tung Chung
If you're taking the MTR, the easiest way to get to the Shek Pik Reservoir is to get off at Tung Chung Station. Catch the 23 or 11 bus and take it to the Shek Pik Police Stand stop. Then walk backwards to the start of the trail.
Since it was late when we got started, we took a taxi from Tung Chung to the trailhead which cost HK $130 (~US $17) and took ~20 minutes.
From Mui Wo
If you'd rather take the ferry to get to Lantau Island, catch the one to Mui Wo at Central Ferry Pier no. 6. At Mui Wo, hop on the 1 bus to Tai O and get off at the Shek Pik Reservoir stop.
Overview of the Middle Dog Teeth Hike to Lantau Peak
The hike from Shek Pik Reservoir to Lantau Peak on the Middle Dog Teeth Range which finishes at Pak Kung Au is 6.5 km (4 mi) in distance and took us 6 hours to complete (with breaks).
The distance of the hike is almost divided in half between the uphill and downhill sections. However, it took us much longer to climb up than to climb back down the other side of Lantau Peak.
Ascending Lantau Peak
For the first part (3.6 km / 2.2 mi), you'll be climbing steep inclines, scaling rocky cliffs, and will ascend ~850 m / 2,788 ft in elevation. The ascent took us slightly over 4 hours. Then, we rested at the top of Lantau Peak for about a half hour.
Descending Lantau Peak
Once at the top of Lantau Peak, it's a steep downhill climb (2.9 km / 1.8 mi) to Pak Kung Au. Since Pak Kung Au is already several hundred meters in elevation, you'll only have to descend ~584 m / 1,916 ft. The descent only took about 1 hour and 15 minutes - much faster than the climb up!
Timing Note: Although the hike took us 6 hours to complete, it's worth mentioning that I had surgery 6.5 weeks before hiking this trail. As a result, I wasn't quite in shape for this type of hike and had to take a lot of breaks. If you're in good physical condition and don't take a lot of breaks, this hike would probably only take you around 4.5-5 hours.
Starting at Shek Pik Reservoir
The trailhead where you'll begin this hike is on the eastern side of Shek Pik Reservoir along S. Lantau Road. Luckily, the start of the trail is already ~75 m ( 246 ft) above sea level which reduces what you have to climb!
Cross the bridge over the catchwater to begin the Shek Pik Country Trail.
Toilet Tip: Although not listed on the map, you'll find a blue portable squat toilet at the start of the trail. It's not fancy, but the washrooms with running water are on the western side of Shek Pik Reservoir and aren't convenient to this trail.
The Shek Pik County Trail is a slightly shaded, fairly easy uphill section for the first 850 m (0.6 mi) with a variety of stairs and dirt trail. You'll climb about 127 m (416 ft) on this section.
Turn off for Middle Dog Teeth
As you go, watch out for the turn off for the Middle Dog Teeth Range. You'll be able to spot by the warning sign telling you not to proceed any further. Always a good sign, right?
Accidents have occurred on the Dog Teeth Ridges in the past, including a fatality. So please be careful and have the right equipment before attempting any of these high-risk Dog Teeth Range trails.
Fighting the Shrubs on Middle Dog Teeth
As with most trails that have danger signs in front of them, the Middle Dog Teeth trail is not as well maintained as most trails in Hong Kong. On the first part of the trail, you'll fight your way through the shrubs and plants along the trail.
As I mentioned earlier, because of how overgrown the trail is, you may wish to wear long sleeves and long pants to protect your skin. Wearing shorts and a tank top, I ended up with lots of cuts and bruises from sharp branches and rocks.
Once you get above the initial forested area, the trail is mostly exposed. However, along the way, you'll encounter a few sections through which you have to fight the bushes and branches again.
Climbing Rocky Middle Dog Teeth
From the start of the Middle Dog Teeth trail, you'll be gaining some serious elevation. The portion of the trail which is solely the Middle Dog Teeth range is ~1.8 km (1.1 mi) long and gains 425 m (1,394 ft) of elevation.
To illustrate the experience climbing this trail, I've included lots of photos. Hopefully, they will help you decide if this is a good trail for you to try.
Kau Nga Ling (Dog Teeth) gets its name from the teeth-like points on the mountain range which you can truly appreciate as you climb. Each "tooth" is a rocky climb straight up which often requires using your hands to pull yourself upward.
After scaling each tooth, you'll feel a great sense of accomplishment and the view continues to improve the higher you go.
Note: Despite this trail having multiple peaks, you don't climb down after each peak. There's a short, flat section between the peaks, but unlike trails such as the 8 Immortals, there's no downhill section. Honestly, I was relieved to discover this.
Appreciating the Views
As soon as you're above the trees, you'll have beautiful views of Shek Pik Reservoir below you. On a clear day, you'll also be able to spot the Soko Islands off the southern coast of Lantau Island.
Kau Nga Ling "Lifeline" Connection
After climbing several teeth on Middle Dog Teeth, you'll meet up with the West Dog Teeth trail at one of the trickiest sections of the trail to finish Kau Nga Ling (Dog Teeth Ridge).
In my opinion, the Lifeline (一線生機), or One Line of Survivability, is the most treacherous part of the trail. It's narrow - only one-person wide - with rock wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other. (I don't think my photo truly does it justice.)
Although the Lifeline rock has a metal chain attached to it to help you out, I didn't fully trust it. Plus, my hands were slippery with sweat. Even though I'm not afraid of heights, this section gave me some butterflies in the stomach!
After completing the nerve-racking Lifeline, you'll have a bit of flat trail before continuing the uphill climb. On this portion, you'll gain 182 m (597 ft) of elevation in 650 m / 0.4 mi.
Just after passing the Bird Rock at Tsam Chai Au Peak, you'll meet up with Lantau Trail, Sec. 3.
Lantau Trail at Tsam Chai Au
Once you meet up with the Lantau Trail, Sec. 3 at Tsam Chai Au Peak, you'll have a decision to make. Do you continue up to Lantau Peak or head down to Ngong Ping?
At this point, you'll be at ~800 m of elevation, which means to summit Lantau Peak, you'll have an additional 134 m (440 ft) of elevation to climb in 350 m / 0.2 mi. It's really not that far, but is very steep - a common theme for this hike.
Climbing Lantau Peak
Despite feeling like I could pass out at any moment, we continued our climb to Lantau Peak. As I mentioned, I physically wasn't ready for this hike so I found it challenging and had to stop several times in the final push to the top.
The good thing about hiking up the taller peaks, especially in cooler seasons, is that the further you climb, the cooler the temperatures! By the time we got to the summit, I was actually cold and had to put on a warmer shirt.
Lantau Peak - The Summit
Once we reached the summit of Lantau Peak, I was ecstatic. Red-faced, sweaty, and so relieved I made it.
Luckily, we got to the top just before the clouds rolled in, so we snapped a few photos of the Hong Kong International Airport and Sunset Peak before the clouds enveloped us.
Even in the clouds, it was lovely to sit up at the top, have a snack, cool off, and admire the clouds. Since the weather can get dicey at the summit, there's a temporary shelter on the peak.
Descending Lantau Trail
After about a half hour break on Lantau Peak, we continued on Lantau Trail, Sec. 3 down towards Pak Kung Au.
Similar to Middle Dog Teeth, the Lantau Trail is quite steep and very exposed. Unlike Middle Dog Teeth, the trail is mostly stone stairs and is very well maintained.
The views climbing down Lantau Trail are still spectacular with the airport off to the left and Pui O Beach to the right. Not to mention, you have great views of Sunset Peak ahead of you as you go.
Lantau Trail from Pak Kung Au
If you'd like to climb Lantau Peak but aren't ready for all the rock climbing, hiking roundtrip from Pak Kung Au up to Lantau Peak is my recommendation.
Due to the steep elevation gain and exposed trail conditions, this route would still be quite a workout. But you wouldn't have to worry about navigating the technical and dangerous sections.
In addition, Pak Kung Au is already 326 m /1,069 ft above sea level, so the elevation gain/loss is only ~585 m (1,919 ft) versus ~850 m / 2,788 ft on the Middle Dog Teeth trail.
Getting Back from Pak Kung Au
The trail finishes at Pak Kung Au on Tung Chung Road. At the bottom, you'll find a a couple portable toilets right next to the bus stop. If you want to go back to Tung Chung, catch one of the buses at the stop directly in front of the trail.
To get to other places on Lantau Island, including Mui Wo, cross the street, turn left and walk up over the hill to the bus stop. The 3M bus terminates in Mui Wo where you can catch the ferry back to Central.
The Middle Dog Teeth trail to Lantau Peak is an adventurous and beautiful trail that I'd recommend for any experienced hikers in Hong Kong. The views are gorgeous and the rock scrambles provide a fun challenge as you climb Hong Kong's second highest peak.
Other Hikes You Might Enjoy
If you're looking for other challenging hikes in Hong Kong, you might enjoy the following hiking guides: