Riding the Dragon's Back, Hong Kong, China
14th of November 2014
- Location: Shek O Country Park, Hong Kong, China
- Start or End: Can start at either Big Wave Bay Road at Big Wave Bay or at the bus stop on Shek O Road. Buses service both ends of the trail. I walked all the way from Big Wave Bay to Shek O along Big Wave Bay Road, but this is unnecessary.
- Length: 11.1km (6.9mi)
- Grade: You need to go uphill to reach the Dragon's Back, but once you are up there it isn't that bad. Dirt paths with some erosion.
It's my last full day in Hong Kong before I set off to Japan. Better take full advantage .... better walk the best urban hike in Asia. Yep that's right, the November 2004 edition of Time Magazine (Vol. 164, No. 20) claimed the Dragon's Back (Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail) as the Best Urban Hike in Asia. So why did I risk leaving the best urban hike in all of Asia until my last day? Clear weather. I was waiting until the haze disappeared and I could get the best views. Unfortunately, the haze is sticking around so I am left with no choice. Today it is.
I leave my hotel in Yau Ma Tei a bit before 5am and catch the N118 bus from Nathan Road to the bus stop on Chai Wan Road, Lei Yue Mun Park and from there take bus 9 directly to the start of the Hong Trail Section 8 on Shek O Road. I arrived at about 6.20am just as the sun is rising.
As you can tell from the picture above the track is clearly signposted and being one of the most famous trails in Hong Kong it is well worn and clear. No chance of getting lost along here.
So why is it called the Dragon's Back? Basically, the trail follows a ridgeline of undulating hills. So from a distance the trail looks like a dragon's back (see the pictures later when I am on the other side of the ridgeline at Big Wave Bay and Shek O beach).
From the bus stop at Shek O road the trail heads east up towards the ridgeline. Luckily the bus has completed the majority of the climb for me so it isn't long before I am at the top. This is what greets me.
Ok. Wow! What a great start. There are certainly some spectacular views up here. As I head north along the ridgeline the views just keep on continuing.
Sure it's a bit hazy. Not the perfect weather but I certainly did come at a perfect time. There is absolutely no one here except for me. All these views are mine this morning.
The walk along the ridgeline doesn't really take that long at all. You could easily complete the most scenic section within 20 minutes. But I spent ages up here. I went back and forth a couple of times, took a seat and just enjoyed.
What can I say about the Dragon's Back? I am finding it really tough to come up with a story. To be perfectly honest nothing that exciting really happened. But I loved every minute of it. Was it the views? Partially, but the haze did really limit the view. Is it because I am now on the best urban hike in all of Asia? Not really, as I wouldn't rate it that highly (I am on a quest to find even better). Why did I love it here so much? After a week of walking my socks off around Hong Kong this walk made the trip complete. I am now content with what I have achieved in Hong Kong. Sure I didn't see everything I wanted, but I did plenty in the time I was here. Right now I am alone and on top of the world.
Ok, so I can't stay here forever. Time to get a move on. Thanks Dragon's Back, you have made my day. Soon enough the views disappear and I am into densely vegetated areas. The vast majority of the Hong Kong Trail Section 8 is like this.
The Hong Kong Trail finishes at Big Wave Bay.
After passing through the backyards of Big Wave Bay residents I find myself at Big Wave Bay Beach. Despite the name, the waves were not big at all.
Look up into the hills. Can you see the Dragon's Back? I was up there not long ago.
Big Wave Bay is a perfect spot for a rest after completing the Dragon's back. There are a few stores stocking supplies so I treat myself to a Coke and watch the sea. There isn't that much to do at Big Wave Bay, but the mood is very chilled and enjoyable. The only real point of interest I came across were some rock carvings dating back 3000 years ago.
From Big Wave Bay I decided to visit Shek O, which is south along Big Wave Bay Road and Shek O Road. I probably could have caught the bus but I was in no rush so decided to walk it. Definitely not the most scenic walk. Shek O Beach is definitely more scenic however.
From Shek O Beach you can easily see the undulating hills which make up the Dragon's Back.
After an enjoyable walk along the beach I decide to take the bus back to the hustle and bustle of the city and explore Shau Kei Wan. As a word of warning, be prepared for the bus ride out of Shek O. The roads are winding, are on the edge of cliffs and the bus drivers ride them like they are in control of a race car. Riding a Dragon's Back is much less scary than a Hong Kong Bus at full speed.
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Have you taken this walk? Any suggestions or errors? Please comment below.