The MacLehose Trail is a 100-kilometre hiking trail that crosses the New Territories, starting from Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung, in the east to Tuen Mun in the west. The trail is named after Sir Murray MacLehose, the longest-serving governor of Hong Kong, who established the Country Parks and was himself an enthusiastic hiker. The trail passes through a variety of natural scenery including beaches and mountains.
The trail is made up of 10 sections or stages. A few weeks back, we tackled Section 2 on our way up to Sharp Peak. For this hike, we decided to try for a long day hike covering Sections 4 (Kei Ling Ha → Tai Lo Shan) and 5 (Tai Lo Shan → Tai Po Road). We used this excellent website for its detailed information on transportation, however we did find the distance to either be erroneous or using a different measurement method (perhaps they’re using “as the bird flies” rather than “as my legs experience”).
MacLehose Section 4
Section 4 is rated as “Difficult” and and I agree with this assessment! It is estimated to take 5 hours and matched our experience. It starts off on a paved road which leads through some beautiful tree-lined windy roads. First thing in the morning, the air was full of crisp misty air. Right at the start, the route starts to ascend and doesn’t let up for more than an hour. Because of the mist, we were soon enveloped by clouds and light rain.
In Hong Kong, this is about as refreshing as the city gets; it was wonderful! The only downside to the cool mist was that it blocked out the view of what was to be one of the most striking hiking views in Hong Kong as you walk along the ridge. Fortunately, as the day went on and as we descended below the mist, we did manage to get a few views in of Mo On Shan, Hong Kong’s second highest mountain.
Just as with the previous MacLehose hikes, we saw a few cows hanging around doing their thing and later on in the hike, we came across a few monkeys too. Section 4 turned out to be awesome and I loved the length, the well maintained pathways and the challenge of the hike. I imagine that without the mist, the view would have been spectacular. If Section 4 had better transportation options at the end, it would make for a perfect morning hike, but alas, it ends in a place where no taxi will come and no public transportation exists, and so, off we go to start Section 5.
MacLehose Section 5
Section 5 is rated as “Moderate”, and perhaps that’s the case if you only hike this section, but when added onto Section 4, I found this hike much more difficult than the previous section. It’s estimated at 3 hours which is exactly how long it took us to complete it. My knees were ready to burst coming down the last few sets of hills, and there were many ascents and descents to deal with as can be seen on this elevation profile!
The views in Section 5 were not as exciting as the previous section, with mostly inland trails along forest roads. They’re beautiful trails, but after seeing the magnificent sea and mountain views from the other sections, this is definitely a different experience. As we passed by the Lion Rock area, we came across a few monkeys, but they were high up in the trees and didn’t cause my dog or us any problems.
The Lion Rock area also provided for some nice views of Hong Kong. If I had more strength and perseverance, I would have liked to go up to Lion Rock as it’s a famous spot in Hong Kong for amazing views. However, with my knees and calves growing to the size of small watermelons, it was more prudent to focus on finishing Section 5 and getting back home.
I loved Section 4 and liked Section 5. Once I’ve completed all the other sections, I’ll definitely come back to cover Section 4 again, and perhaps because there is little choice of how to get back home, I will probably do Section 5 again. There was something odd with the distance estimates I found online versus what I experienced in reality; Section 4 is supposed to be 12.7km and Section 5 is supposed to be 10.6km, for a total of 23.3km but my GPS watch came out with 29km! Based on my physical condition at the end of the hike, I would go with the 29km estimate!
Some good websites for your reference if you decide to try this beautiful hiking trail: