Climbing Lion Rock From Tai Wai
I think it’s fair to say that you can’t claim you’ve fully experienced Hong Kong until you’ve accomplished the Lion Rock hike. Lion Rock is so iconic, visible from all over the city, it marks the boundary between Kowloon and the New Territories. It became especially significant during the umbrella protests in 2014 as protesters hung a banner from the Lion’s head visible across Hong Kong in support for the pro democracy movement!
The Wise Backpacker Video Guide to Climbing Lion Rock
Lion Rock From Tai Wai or Wong Tai Sin?
There are two main ways to complete the Lion Rock hike. The first is from Wong Tai Sin. I opted to go from Tai Wai for two reasons. Firstly it is nearer Tai Po where I’m staying at the moment, and secondly you pass Amah Rock. Legend has it that Amah Rock is a wife of a fisherman who died at sea. Everyday the woman would climb the mountain to look out to see for him. The goddess of the sea rewarded her by turning her into stone to preserve her spirit!
Starting from Wong Tai Sin, is said to be an easier but longer walk than starting from Tai Wai, but you do miss out on Amah Rock!
Route From Tai Wai MTR to Lion Rock
Arrive at Tai Wan MTR Station, and leave from exit C. Turn right immediately at the exit and follow the road straight. You’ll then need to go up the escalators to get over the intersection and keep going straight. As a general rule you need to head towards the tree covered mountains.
Follow the road up and you’ll catch your first glimpse of Amah Rock. Keep walking up, staying on the main road. You’ll then get to an underpass. At this point I thought I was on the wrong track, as it’s hard to see the entrance to the Lion Rock County Park. But keep going under the underpass and on the right you’ll see a set of steps! Now the hike begins.
The Lion Rock Hike Begins
The hike up is around 2 hours. It can roughly be broken down into 5 roughly equal sections. The first section we’ve covered above, it’s the hike from Tai Wai Station to the start of the trail. At the trail head you’ll find a nice BBQ area, and also your last proper toilet stop before the hike begins! Make the most of it!
The second section is about 25 minutes of relatively easy stair climbing. It’s just slow and steady. There is the advantage that the forest cover is thick which keeps you out of the sun, a god send after the walk to the trail head in the midday heat. At the top of the stair section you reach the Hong Kong Water Department substation. I made the mistake of turning right towards Amah Rock, however the trail actually turns left here, and then continues up a steepish path.
In the third section, keep heading up for another 25 or so minutes and you’ll reach a split in the path, one path heads right, back down to Amah Rock, and the other heads left, up to Lion Rock.
The fourth section is pretty similar to the third, a path that ascends at a steady rate until you reach a pavilion, which is a great rest area, and gives you a glimpse of the kind of city views you’re to expect at the top.
The last section is the shortest, but also the most challenging. The thick forest starts to fade out, so you’re more exposed to the sun. The terrain is more of a scramble, and you’ll have monkeys watching your every move in the hope of scavenging some food! There are a couple of false tops, but keep going and eventually you’ll pass Lion Rock. There’s a sign warning against climbing the rock, but everyone seemed to ignore it!
Lion Rock hike complete. Now to enjoy the stunning views over Kowloon and the New Territories!
Steps Taken: 16596
Distance Travelled: 5.7 miles
Flights of Stairs Climbed: 104
Altitude Gained: 486 Meters
Water Consumed: 2 Litres