Start at the barbecue site on the Ma On Shan Country Trail along an ever-diminishing road which serves what is left of the old miners’ villages of Ma On Shan Tsuen. When the road peters out, cross a small stream and then climb up rocky steps to reach a pavilion on the Ngong Ping plateau. Here you join the MacLehose trail, which follows the same path as the Ma On Shan Trail for the next kilometre. At marker C3306, take a short side diversion to the viewing point which offers excellent views across Sai Kung (you often see hang gliders launching from here). Afterwards, follow the MacLehose trail for the next 10km. Descend a little, then strenuously climb back up to Buffalo Pass (475m) and then down again before climbing around the north face of Tate’s Cairn, with excellent views over Sha Tin. Turn right as you exit the woods and follow the road downhill until you reach Sha Tin Pass. Here you’ll find a store selling cold drinks, noodles and sweet tofu, plus toilet facilities. If you’ve had enough, exit from Shatin Pass Road to Wong Tai Sin MTR.
If not, climb up to Lion Rock Country Park and Unicorn Ridge before rejoining the MacLehose Trail. The last 4km take you up Beacon Hill and views over the Kowloon and Shing Mun Reservoirs as you descend to the junction with the Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail, where you can go either way round the hill to the Lion Rock Country Park Management Centre and Tai Po Road. Bus stops are here for Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin. Note: there are plenty of macaques around in the last section of this walk, so keep your food hidden away. Pesky monkeys!
The whole hike is on paved paths or well-defined dirt trails, but the section over Lion Rock has a steep and rugged descending section which is especially tricky in wet conditions. Wear hiking shoes. This hike is in no way suitable for beginners – you’re walking uphill constantly for over an hour. Bring at least three litres of water and snacks. There is opportunity for a resupply of drinks and food at Sha Tin Pass after about 12km. Bring a hat and sunblock − much of this route is without shade.
TIME OUT RATING
Length: 3 (about 20 km)
Gradient (Ascent): 5 (about 1,050m in total)
Surface: 2.5 (all on well-marked dirt trails)
Overall: 3.25; add 0.5 for big exposed climbs
Take Exit B from Ma On Shan MTR station, then grab a cab to the Ma On Shan Barbecue site (about $40). Alternatively, walk the 3km to get there.