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Hiking the Dog’s Teeth: stunning views of South Lantau

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While the weather remains cool and before the low cloud cover rolls in, Jason Pagliari invites you to climb 539 metres to enjoy the stunning views from Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge to the south of Lantau Peak

Highly regarded by Hong Kong hikers, less familiar to most Lantauers, are the three ridge lines to the south of Lantau Peak that climb up from the water catchment road between Shek Pik Reservoir and Shui Hau village to a 539- metre hilltop known as 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.

Our hike today is up Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge from Shek Pik Reservoir and down East Dog’s Teeth ridge to Shui Hau. We’ll reach 539 metres above sea level and cover a distance of 6.5 kilometres; it should take around three-and-a-half hours at a leisurely pace. This hike is fairly tough and requires a good level of fitness, as well as proper shoes and perhaps gloves for those sections where you need to grab on to the rocks…

Start: Shek Pik Reservoir

Our hike starts at the bus stop on the east side of Shek Pik Reservoir; there’s a parking lot where it’s easy enough to leave your car for a few hours. Looking towards Lantau Peak, far in the distance on the right, we see where we’re headed – a chalk-white trail leading up to a rounded hill top.

Setting off, we walk east along South Lantau Road for about eight minutes to a picnic area with a big entrance sign ‘Tong Fuk Catchwater’. Just inside, we cross a bridge over the catchwater channel, where a map informs us that we are now on Shek Pik Country Trail. This trail climbs up the mountainside to Ngong Ping, winding its way to the touristic Wisdom Path and its many inscribed wooden columns.

We climb stone steps up through tall trees and it’s steep in places but easy going. The path widens out at the top of the steps, still in forest. After about 25 minutes, we come to a warning sign in the trees on our 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 us 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.

Up and down 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 onto 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, we’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. We spot our trail winding its way further up the ridge.

At this point, the Ngong Ping Buddha is visible poking out above the west ridge on our left and, below us on the right, East Dog’s Teeth, smaller than the middle ridge we’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, you can follow the progress of other hiking groups on the different ridges. Extreme hikers stick to West Dog’s Teeth ridge which, in places, looks like a sheer cliff with a vertigo-inducing knife-edge profile – not inviting at all if you ask our group.

The path leads downhill a short distance before ascending again and we 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 adrenalin junkies on the west ridge.

A little further on, we reach the highest point of this hike, where we 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, we take a well-earned break, stopping to chat with other hikers, everyone commenting on how beautiful the day is.

Descent to 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. (Turn left once you’ve crossed the catchwater, and then right at the first corner). Note that the route up to Kau Nga Ling from Tong Fuk isn’t a ridge line, it’s more of a forest hike, where you break tree cover at altitude. To take this trail, walk up Ma Po Ping Road at the west of Tong Fuk, past the prison to the catchwater. Turn left and there’s a bridge at the first corner. Cross over, climb the steps and follow a concrete drainage channel to the right. The trail starts here; there are bright ribbons to follow all the way to Kau Nga Ling.

But on this hike, we’re headed to Shui Hau, so we 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 Views across East Dog’s Teeth ridge to Shui Hau Middle Dog’s Teeth ridge from the Shek Pik Country Trail then descends into a forest of gnarly trees and ferns. Keeping left, we look out for those colourful ribbons to guide us back to the catchwater, where we emerge at a bridge and a distance post marker, L102.

Nearing the end of our trek, we 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 we 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 we grab a bowl of noodles before taking the bus home.

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