Jason Pagliari invites you on a 539-metre climb to enjoy stunning views from Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge to the south of Lantau Peak. The question is, are you man (or woman) enough to accept his challenge
The hike up Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge from Shek Pik Reservoir and down East Dog’s Teeth ridge to Shui Hau is off most people’s radar, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a tough one, especially at the height of summer. You need to be fit to attempt this hike, and you’ll need proper shoes and perhaps gloves for those sections where you’re hanging on to rocks and tree trunks to steady yourself. There are in fact three ridge lines that climb up from the water catchment road between Shek Pik Reservoir and Shui Hau village to 539-metre Kau Nga Ling, literally Hill of Dog’s Teeth. These jagged ridge lines resemble the lines of teeth in a dog’s jaw, and the views across them are amazing as you press onwards with Lantau Peak looming high above. Adrenalin junkies stick to West Dog’s Teeth ridge which, in places, looks like a sheer cliff with a vertigo-inducing knife-edge profile.
On this hike, you’ll reach 539 metres above sea level and cover a distance of 6.5 kilometres. My advice? Pace yourself, and expect to be out there for at least three and-a-half hours.
Start: Shek Pik Reservoir
Should you be up for this challenge, make your way to the bus stop on the east side of Shek Pik Reservoir. Looking towards Lantau Peak, far in the distance on the right, you’ll see where you’re headed – a chalk-white trail leading up to a rounded hilltop.
Setting off, you walk east along South Lantau Road for about eight minutes to a picnic area with a big entrance sign to Tong Fuk Catchwater. Just inside, you cross a bridge over the catchwater channel, where a map reveals that you are now on Shek Pik Country Trail. This trail climbs up the mountainside to Ngong Ping, winding its way to touristy Wisdom Path and its many inscribed wooden columns.
As you climb stone steps up through tall trees, the going gets steep in places. The path widens out at the top of the steps, still in forest. After about 25 minutes, you come to a warning sign in the trees on your right that looks brand new; this is the start of the trail to Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge. Not so long ago, only the most extreme ridge, West Dog’s Teeth, had a warning sign. Recently, all of the trails to Kau Nga Ling have had these signs installed at their start, seemingly to deter casual hikers from attempting the summit of Lantau Peak. But don’t be put off! There is a dangerous wall called Tightrope Pass at the peak’s higher levels, above Kau Nga Ling, but that doesn’t affect you on this walk. What’s more, West Dog’s Teeth ridge features on the cover of the latest
Lantau Island & Neighbouring Islands hiking map (Hong Kong Countryside Series), so these are all well-recognised hiking trails.
The dog’s teeth ridges
The trail to Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge is steep and narrow; you’ll spot colourful ribbons amongst the trees, letting you know that you’re headed in the right direction. In parts, you will be holding on to rocks and tree trunks to pull yourself up. When you break tree cover, it can get a bit gravelly in places, so be careful not to slip. There are breath-taking views of Shui Hau and its ‘kite surfing’ bay to the southeast and soon, you’re at the chalky white trail to the hilltop we noted from down at the reservoir. There is a trig point at the top which means it’s time for a breather and swig of water.
At this point, the Ngong Ping Buddha is visible poking out above the west ridge on your left and, below on the right, East Dog’s Teeth, smaller than the middle ridge you’re on, lies on the other side of a heavily forested valley. Stream trekkers like to climb up this valley, which they call Tiger Roar Rock River, as it ends in a dramatically steep scree slope.
From here on up, the path leads downhill a short distance before ascending again and you’ll become increasingly aware just how massive Lantau Peak is; it looks like Mount Everest up ahead. There are some big boulders on the trail, which you can climb to enjoy the amazing views and keep tabs on those adrenaline junkies on the west ridge.
A little further on, you reach the highest point of this hike, where you turn right at a rounded hilltop, passing over the scree slope at the end of Tiger Roar Rock River to the next hill, Kau Nga Ling. At this point, be sure to take another break – you’ve earned it.
Finish: Shui Hau
Starting down East Dog’s Teeth ridge, there is a fork to the left, marked with a blue ribbon, which will take you to the catchwater near Tong Fuk village. But on this hike, you’re headed to Shui Hau, so keep right at the fork. The trail is pretty steep and slippery for the first 100 metres – watch your step because you will kick up loose stones. Keep your hands free as you will be going slowly and making use of the bushes lining the trail to stabilise yourself.
Once you’ve navigated that slope successfully, the trail narrows before arriving at a huge boulder, which is easy to climb over, and then descends into a forest of gnarly trees and ferns. Keeping left, look out for those colourful ribbons to guide you back to the catchwater, where you emerge at a bridge and a distance post marker, L102.
Nearing the end of your trek, you turn right at the catchwater; at the first corner there’s a pagoda and a signpost to a trail that leads downhill to Shui Hau. It’s a very wide trail and you pass a lot of graves before hitting South Lantau Road at a red fire hydrant. Turning right, Shui Hau is about 200 metres around the corner. The village has two restaurants, so you can rest up and grab a bowl of noodles before taking the bus home.