It’s October, aka hiking season, so what better way to spend an autumn afternoon than with a steep climb to 529 metres in Tung Chung, and a stroll along Pok To Yan ridgeline. Jason Pagliari reports
Looking for a testing hike that takes you high above Tung Chung and back in around three hours? This one’s increasingly popular with fit and enthusiastic hikers, since it offers up steep climbs, superb views and the option of a detour to one of Lantau’s most interesting rock formations, the ‘Book Cliff.’ You’ll be climbing the mountain ridge that extends from above Tung Chung Fire Station to the Caribbean Coast development reclamation, and returning via a descending ridge which ends above the North Lantau Highway.
Standing at the corner of Chung Yan Road and the beginning of Tung Chung Road (where the overhead walkway from the North Lantau Hospital starts), you turn east towards looming Pok To Yan and follow the road past the newly completed high-rise housing development on your left. You then follow its site hoarding up a rise a short way to a concrete building where your hike begins. Take a right after this building (which has no roof, it’s for stormwater flash-flood control), and climb the concrete steps behind it. At the top, take a left and you’ll soon see, on your right, some ribbons in the trees heading uphill. Follow the ribbons, take a left fork and eventually you will find yourself on a concrete drainage channel which ascends into a forest of low, gnarly trees.
At this point you reach a dirt trail. You’ll have to crouch under many low branches initially and, making your way generally right, you’ll see two peaks at a steep angle above you – it’s the big one on the left (Pok To Yan) you’re climbing. At about 75 metres elevation, the forest thins out and the trail becomes increasingly steep. Once out of tree cover, you can orientate yourself, noting that you’re directly in line with Shun Tung Road.
The steep climb
Continuing up, you’ll find that the trail gets pretty steep – from about 150 metres to 350 metres you’ll be climbing at an angle of 45 degrees in places. Be sure to take plenty of rest stops on the way as it’s hard work. But the good news is that there are rocks firmly embedded in the earth, which provide a good foothold, so you don’t have to worry about slipping. Also, there are no plunging, vertigo-inducing drops to contend with.
Halfway into your climb, you’ll see Yat Tung Estate and the coastal Ma Wan village to the northwest, with Nei Lak Shan and Lantau Peak (Fung Wong Shan) behind. As you climb higher, you’ll be using your hands to hold onto rocks and, at about 300 metres, there’s a short but particularly steep, rocky stretch which you do have to physically haul yourself up.
When you get above 350 metres, the tough part of the climb is over and you’re on a gentle, bushy path, which leads over a few ‘false summits.’ You can now see Wong Lung Hang Valley far below and, by the time you’ve reached the first peak, you’ll have passed three ridges below on your right. All of these ridges have steep, narrow trails but the last one is probably the easiest; it looks like a knife edge and its trail start is difficult to find, but it could be another route up from Wong Lung Hang Valley.
Along the ridge
Pok To Yan ridgeline (‘thin razor’s edge’) actually consists of three gently undulating peaks at an elevation of around 500 metres. This hike takes you up and over all three and the trail is fairly steep in places though not difficult.
At the top of the second peak, you’ll see an old trig point that’s been mostly demolished – it seems this peak has been demoted from ‘summit status.’ From here, the view over Tung Chung and the Caribbean Coast skyline is fantastic. You may not be able to see this view by December since the air quality and visibility steadily deteriorates over the dry season, so October really is a great time to do this hike.
There are some boulders overlooking the last peak, where you can rest up and scan the ridge top on your right for the location of the previously mentioned Book Cliff, which is hidden in a secluded tree-covered area. This rock formation begs for a closer look. But first you continue on, to the third peak, the true summit of Pok To Yan which stands at an impressive 529 metres. From the trig point, there’s a great view over the next mountain along the coast, the pointy and extremely steep Por Kai Shan.
Por Kai Shan (‘old woman’s hair mountain’) is backed by the land reclamation which now extends all the way up to the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. There’s a major trail along the base of Por Kai Shan, which you will be taking for a while, turning off at a ridge heading downhill to the northwest, and back to Tung Chung. But first you take that detour.
Detour to the Book Cliff
Heading right after the trig point, look out for bushy trails with ribbons leading to the tree-covered area mentioned earlier. Soon, there’s a fork – the left path takes you to the clifftop, the right fork leads just a short way down to the base of the Book Cliff.
Also known as the Heavenly Book Wall, this feature consists of two sheer vertical rock walls about 8-metres high aligned at a right angle. It looks like a giant book that’s been opened by divine forces. The thick forest here is nourished by a stream that runs down to Wong Lung Hang Valley – this stream is a favourite climb for stream trekkers, perhaps the most extreme of all hikers.
After taking in the beauty of the Book Cliff, head back up the trail due east until it hits a main thoroughfare – the path to the right goes up and around Lin Fa Shan and onwards to Sunset Peak (Tai Tung Shan), but you go left, to the north and back towards the coast.
Downhill to Tung Chung
Heading downhill, following steps consisting of wide wooden shutters filled with earth, you see Por Kai Shan ahead and pass the implausibly steep trail up to its summit. As the path swings eastwards towards the coast round the base of Por Kai Shan keep a close eye out for a trail on your left that leads downhill to a ridgeline in line with the far away Novotel Citygate hotel. This section of your hike is popular with Tung Chung residents, but it’s quite steep in places with lots of loose stones, so take it slowly.
Once past the rocky section, you’re back on an even trail and there’s a fork, where you keep right. Soon you arrive at a water catchment and retaining wall with concrete steps going down. There are 11 of these to descend, with 50 steps between each one.
Continue on until you hit a larger retaining wall with handrails, just above Cheung Tung Road, next to the North Lantau Highway. Follow this wall west through a breezy forest of tall trees and after you cross a bridge over a stormwater channel, drop down to the road. From here, you soon pass under a bridge which will take you to the Caribbean Coast or you can continue on and take a left onto a cycle path – within five minutes you’ll be at the main bus stop in front of Tung Chung Fire Station.Tags: Tung Chung Ridge, Walkabout