‘Dragon’s Back’ refers to a hiking trail along the ridge between Shek O Peak and Wan Cham Shan in Hong Kong, with the highest point being 284 metres above sea level. It forms part of the 50km-long Hong Kong Trail (Section 8) and has been named “best urban hike in Asia” by TIME magazine in 2004. It’s very quick and easy to get to the trailhead. It was the ideal choice for a half-day hike with a work colleague, before our flights back to Australia in the evening.
After leaving our bags at Hong Kong station, we take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan station and then Bus 9 from the bus terminus to the start of the Dragon’s Back on Shek O Road. Any concerns about which bus stop to alight from are quickly allayed by the fact the entire (fairly full) double-decker bus consists of Dragon’s Back hikers. This is not a hike to do if you’re seeking solitude.
We set off up the path from the windy and scenic road to Shek O around 11am; the Dragon’s Back trail rises steadily from the bus-stop and is well-marked. It’s a warm day (I suppose every day in HK is either a warm day or a hot day!), and the shade at the start of the walk is appreciated.
It doesn’t take long for the Dragon’s Back trail to reach the undulating ridge. We’re now in full sun, sweating profusely and glad we’ve brought a decent amount of water with us. But no umbrellas, which some hikers are carrying! The views start to open up as the trail follows the ridge.
From Shek O peak (284m) which is about a kilometre from the start, the views are magnificent: Shek O village and beach is below us, and in the distance to the east you can see Clear Water Bay Peninsula and islands in the eastern sea (below).
To the west (below) is Stanley Peninsula across the other side of Tai Tam Bay, with Lamma Island in the distance.
The trail now follows the Dragon’s Back ridge for about three kilometres, through thick vegetation that’s rarely high enough to provide any shade from the midday sun. There’s a few more vantage points, including the Wan Cham Shan peak (265m).
Towards the end of the ridge we get tantalising views of Tai Long Wan village and Big Wave Bay below us at the end of the trail. Contrasting with the greenery of the hills are the dense urban developments on Kowloon in the distance.
Eventually the Dragon’s Back trail descends from the ridge, and it’s possible to leave the walk after about five kilometres. We continue to Tai Long village, exchanging what was a dirt trail to a paved road (closed to traffic) for the final three or so kilometres. We are in shade again, and it’s easy walking down to the end of Hong Kong Trail Section 8 at Tai Long village. Where we enjoy a well-deserved beer on the beach, discovering the very appropriately-named Dragon’s Back Beer from Hong Kong’s first micro brewery.
A couple of beers later, we are ready for the final stage of our journey… the walk from Tai Long village to Shek O. There are options to get a bus or taxi for this last bit but, but that’s not for hard-core hikers like us 🙂 Regretting our decision half an hour later as we trudge along Big Wave Bay Road, we arrive at Shek O village at around 3pm for a late lunch, before catching a very full Bus 9 back to Shau Kei Wan MTR station and onto the airport.