When I travel, I run. Because: a) It’s my preferred method to get over jet-lag, b) I get to see way more of a place than walking, and c) I’m always trying to be a better runner. This Hong Kong trip had me really excited, as the city is packed full of trails. One of the most notable is on Hong Kong Island: The Hong Kong Trail.
Getting there – Running in the City
From my hotel, down at sea level, it was REALLY tricky to get up to Victoria Peak, where section one of the Hong Kong Trail starts. The streets are not in any type of grid layout and the sidewalks are really narrow and uneven. I started at about 6 AM on a weekend to avoid crowds on the sidewalks as much as possible. With a little research beforehand, I found a reasonable route up to Old Peak Road. There is a lot of climbing involved. Most websites I checked out advised taking a bus or tram to the team – but what’s the point of that??
The Hong Kong Trail – Section One
The full trail is 50 KM (31 miles) long, divided into 8 sections. I didn’t have the time or preparation to tackle the whole thing at once (although I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was tempting). The heat and humidity was going to take it’s toll. I was expecting a 15 mile day, which I expected would take most of the 2 liters of water in my pack (which ended up being the case).
The first part of the trail was extremely accessible to any level of runner. The majority of the trail was actually paved and relatively flat. The start is basically the tourist center of Victoria Peak: A couple of large roads and the tram all converge here, with two shopping malls and a bunch of restaurants. I was there early enough to find relative solitude, but it can get VERY crowded at other times.
The trail begins there and follows Lugard Road around the north side. There’s a relatively confusing intersection about a mile in, where the natural flow of the trail seems to go left, which is actually the Morning Trail (another nice trail that climbs from the mid-levels below up to the peak). Instead, to stay on the Hong Kong trail, I turned right and started following a set of stairs down onto less used parts of the trail. I eventually figured out that the Hong Kong Trail markers have a logo of two hikers – otherwise the trail signs are not very clear about which trail you’re on.
The Hong Kong Trail – Section Two
The second section of the trail felt breezy and had much more trail made of rock/stone and concrete. It mostly ran along the south side of Hong Kong Island. I saw less people on this section, compared to the first. There was an odd concrete section with railing on each side, which had a concrete channel to the side which I’m guessing was for handling flash flood waters from the summer storms (it was dry for me). The only people I saw along this remote part definitely had the trail runner look to them. It overlooked a channel stuffed full of ships coming into port. A really nice intersection of nature and the intensely urban.
The Hong Kong Trail – Section Three
This was my favorite section. It cut back from the south side of the island back to the north. It was extremely quiet and had the most dirt trails I saw that day. The dirt was primarily hard-pack sand/clay, with a few rocks and roots sticking out – just enough to be tricky!
In one of the most remote parts of this section a dog jumped out of the trees and gave me a few barks. Definitely a surprise – but that was the only non-flying wildlife I saw the whole time.
At the end of this section I took a paved path out of the park to a large parking lot. The closest landmark was a Police Museum.
The Way Back
It was tricky again getting back to where I started from here. (I think) I ended up taking a trail called Dutch Path west towards the roads that would eventually lead me back to my hotel. The trail was pretty developed for the most part, but toward the middle I was concerned I was going to hit a dead end – but the trail never quite disappeared and eventually opened up again.
Running on the roads was not fun. The trail more than made up for it. If I lived here, the trails would be my playground. The rest of Hong Kong (off the Island) there are tons more to explore – Lantau Island in particular looked packed with trails. It would be a blast to spend more time on them!
Of course, I hit my pause button by accident and trimmed about a mile off of the first section, but you get the idea: