It’s been a long, hot summer but autumn is approaching and the hikers among us will be looking for their walking shoes.
If you have children, you can take them along, too – just choose shorter routes which don’t tackle the highest mountaintops or wander too far from civilization.
Pointing out items of interest on your way may help teach your children that going outside is not just for catching Pokemons. It’s also a way to learn about local wildlife and find out how people used to live.
Remember to take enough water for all your party, snacks to eat on the way, a paper map in case of no phone signal and sun protection such as hats and sunscreen.
We’ve chosen five trails here which are good with half-pint hikers.
1. Shing Mun Reservoir
This nature trail is easy to get to and is suitable for kids of all ages. Time needed: 1.5 hours
From Tsuen Wan, take green minibus 82 uphill to Pineapple Dam. This is named for the fruits which were once grown in the valley. Steps lead up to the trail, and you have views out across the waters. Information boards point out the plants that grow along the way – banyan, plum and gum trees. At the forest road, turn left. But make a detour into the lovely Butterfly Garden, a haven for the beautiful insects. Hong Kong has more than 230 butterfly species and the flowering bushes here attract them. There are picnic tables here, too. The track eventually brings you back to the minibus stop.
2. Tai Mei Tuk
This is a short and easy walk laid out for children and you can finish with a waterfront meal. Time needed: 1 hour
From Tai Po Market, take bus 75K or minibus 20C to the terminus. Walk toward the sea and turn left. The Tai Mei Tuk Family Walk leads up through the trees. There are 12 distance markers, each with animals from the Chinese zodiac, so kids can see if they can find their sign. The first viewing spot is high above the dam of Plover Cove. An information board explains how the channel was blocked to let the bay fill with fresh water. At the end, you can walk along to the dam where people fly kites and for dinner you can take a barbecue spot or eat at one of the village restaurants.
3. Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail
For a longer walk with older kids, try this route which was originally built for farmers carrying produce to the market. Time needed: 6 hours
Take any bus from Tsuen Wan to Allway Gardens. The trail starts at the top of the road. As you walk, pay attention on your left: you get wonderful views of the Ting Kau and Tsing Ma bridges which carry traffic to the airport. The trail ends at Tai Tong village, where you can pick up a minibus to Yuen Long.
4. High West
This hill is next to the famous Victoria Peak and offers stupendous views but no crowds. It’s steep in one section but is also short. Time needed: 2 hours
Take the Peak Tram or bus 15 from Central to the Peak, then walk along Harlech Road. Through the trees you can see Pokfulam Reservoir, nestled in forest. At the garden where many tracks meet, take the leftmost path. It doesn’t take long to reach the top of High West. Take a break up there and enjoy the panorama of Kowloon, the harbour and all the islands. Retrace your steps to the Peak Tower or walk down Hatton Road to reach Mid-Levels.
5. Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
The hike up here is ideal with children – it’s quick and easy and the monastery is colourful and fun. And the steps will hopefully wear out the most energetic of little ones. Time needed: 1 hour
Leave Sha Tin station by Exit B. A winding path leads uphill into a valley full of temples. The valley is also home to a bee farm which sells honey. Hike up a flight of steps lined by golden statues of monks and you’ll arrive at the monastery (open until 5:30pm). There are in fact over 12,000 Buddha figures in the main hall. There are two routes back down: if you bear left and take the other steps, you’ll find even more golden statues, each one different from the last.
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