Circle Hong Kong’s largest reservoir on a day trip hiking one of the territory’s most scenic trails
Difficulty: Hard! 5/5 – It’s difficult but not deadly as the hike of death
Distance: 15.5km (Prepare to walk 20+km)
Duration: 7 hours
Among Hong Kong’s most beautiful (yet longer) hikes is this trail well worth a day trip to the far north – even farther than Sai Kung – close to the Chinese border. We found ourselves a cool spring day in mid-March that was perfect for taking on this 7-hour journey.
Can you do it?
To be honest I had been putting this trail off for years because everything I read online said it was so difficult. It’s quite long as well – so finding company was equally challenging. I tried to sell the idea to several friends for weeks prior to finally doing it.
Personally, I was convinced I could hack it as a friend who had gone – Ryan – said the internet was exaggerating about the difficulty. I relayed that to our group that day, and we expected to finish the thing in 5 hours. Wrong. Expect to walk it in 7 hours unless you’re running! Later on, Ryan amended his statement and said he must have gone on a different trail because ours seemed way longer and harder than the one he had done…………
The big question – can you do it? If you’ve done Sunset Peak you can definitely do this one! I would say the difficulty is comparable, except that Sunset Peak is an endless uphill for more than half the trail while this one is not as high up; it’s the undulating up-and-down that kills you. As Plover Cove Country Trail is almost three times longer, you also need to be mentally prepared as well as amply stocked with food and drink. DO NOT attempt to walk this empty-handed!
If you want to start off flat, begin as we did at Tai Mei Tuk. There are minibuses that go there from MTR Tai Po Market Station [20C/20R], but we took an Uber from HK Island as there were five of us. Try to eat a big breakfast or have brunch at one of the Thai restaurants in Tai Mei Tuk; there will be no food available for purchase after you start the hike.
If you’re the type who wants to get the hard part out of the way from the get go, commence at Wu Kau Tang (the real start point, beside Bride’s Pool). This way you can feast at Tai Mei Tuk after ending the hike! Click here for the route map and transportation information.
Otherwise build it up gradually from a pleasurable and flat walk, ramping it up in the end as we did. You might also want to take a change of clothes if you’re doing this in warmer weather.
- The 2km walk on the main dam of Plover Cove Reservoir – amazing vibe with loads families and friends cycling and generally enjoying
- Breathtaking sea views from every angle all throughout the hike
- A pink and purple gravel section of the trail halfway through, stretching some 1-2km
- People fishing during winter season
- A mini floating solar farm on the reservoir
Hung Shek Mun
[Added July 24, 2020] I took out a copy of “Eighty-eight Hong Kong Natural Wonders” from the library, edited by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department by the Hong Kong SAR Government, and found out exactly what that pink and purple gravel section of the trail was!
The northeastern part of the Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail encroaches into the area of Hung Shek Mun, a chanel enclosed by land on all sides serving as the narrow entrance to Double Haven. The rocks on either side of this gateway are a mixture of sandstones, siltstones and conglomerates.
Geologists believe that, when they were formed, very high temperatures led to unusually rapid oxidation, which created abundant iron oxides from the ferrous minerals. This gives the striking reddish colour to these coastal rocks.
Is there a way to only partially do this trail and exit somewhere in the middle?
Not really. You have to hike as long, but there’s potentially an easier route to follow, avoiding the hardest part of the trail near Wu Kau Tang. In the photo below, it says ‘1 3/4 km to Wu Kau Tang’, which was the end of the hike for us. It felt like the hardest 1.75km of my life! You can’t read the sign on the left, but I’ll type it out for you below:
The sign says: “The section ahead is extremely challenging. It is steep and unsheltered. Do not walk this trail in hot and unstable weather to avoid heat stroke, lightning and severe cold. Those without sufficient equipment, food and water or physically unfit should not attempt this trail. Please retrace your steps.”
I saw maybe 1-2 of these signs, the first 4.5km towards Wu Kau Tang, and the second 1.5km away. I didn’t point them out to my companions in case they wanted to opt for the easier way out, which means we didn’t complete the actual Plover Cove Country Trail. I was not about to allow ourselves to do that!
Plus, we saw some elderly people and then a group of Filipinas from Visayas / Mindanao coming out of the ‘treacherous path’ and thought, ‘if they can do it, we can too!’
At Wu Kau Tang? Congratulations! Take a taxi to the Fanling or Tai Wo MTR station. You can also head to Wu Kau Tang Minibus Terminus or Bride’s Pool Bus Terminus and take the bus to Tai Po Market [20R].
Hiked on March 15, 2020
Have you hiked Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail or are you planning to? Let me know how your experience was on the comments below! Enjoy the adventure!