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Cicerone’s Favourite Hong Kong Walks II: Paradise Found! From Happy Valley to Stanley in High Heels! (Almost) The Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path

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I have posted before about one of my favourite walks on Hong Kong Island, which is section #1 of the Wilson Trail which goes from the top of Happy Valley to Stanley; and that this is a HARD trail with many stairs and hills. However, I had recently heard what I thought was an urban legend about a trail which also goes to Stanley but which is flat and does not expose one to the risk of having to have arthroscopic surgery after having taking it....I am very happy to report that the myth is fact and that there is an excellent, flat, 6 km/4 mile trail with very good views which virtually any one can do at any time of year. Details are below.

The trail is called the Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path. I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek about the high-heels, sneakers (or hiking boots) would be best, although I did see an older Chinese couple doing this in flip flops. I had my walking pole but did not need it at all. It is flat the entire way, there are some stairs to go down in two portions, I would say about 300 steps in all. I would not do this within a day or so of a hard rain or a typhoon, as when you get to the dirt trail portion in Repulse Bay this could be slippery, and you have to cross two streams which after a rain could be a bit full. Also bring water as there is no place along the route to get water. At a good pace, the walk took my group 2 hours, we did not stop to rest at any point. We walked at 1 pm on Sunday and temps were in the low 80s F, but even with the entire walk facing west and south west, as a lot of this is in the shade it was fine, and I think would be doable even in high summer, although I would start out much earlier just to make it more pleasant in the really high temps and humidity of summer.

There is no doubt that the views from section #1 of the Wilson Trail are much better as you are higher and out of the trees; a good bit of the Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path is in the trees, but the views which are available are very very good, especially of Repulse Bay and Stanley. For very little effort, there is great reward, IMO. I always feel like a limp rag after Wilson #1; on Sunday after this walk I had not even really broken a sweat. But it is 6 km, so it’s no slouch in terms of distance.

1. Directions to the Walk - You can take a bus or taxi to the start of the walk. From Central, take the #6 bus going toward Stanley (On Sundays there is also the #61 bus to Repulse Bay). You want to get off at the top of Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, and go up to Wong Nai Chung Gap Reservoir where the trail begins. You will know you are approaching this area as the bus will start climbing a very big hill with a cemetery on your left. When you pass an Esso gas station on your right, you want the NEXT stop, which is in front of a Shell gas station on the left. Get off here. You can buy water and sports drinks at the shop in the Shell station if you don’t already have drinks. Facing the Shell station, look to the right and you will see a flight of stairs at the edge of the driveway. Go up the stairs, and turn RIGHT at the top. (Ignore the map on the signboard here, we discovered it was incorrect after wandering around the wrong path for a while.) Take the sidewalk to the end and you will come out onto a street, this is Tai Tam Reservoir Road, cross this road and turn LEFT walking uphill along Tai Tam Reservoir Road (I promise this is the only hill you will walk up on this trail). As you walk uphill, you will see the beginning of the tall reservoir wall on your right. Follow the sidewalk a bit further up to you come to the middle of the reservoir wall, where there is a large signboard with a trail map and a sidewalk entrance to the reservoir. If you look up, you should also see a pink directional arrow on a post which says “Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path”. Walk down onto the sidewalk/path going to the RIGHT around the edge of the reservoir.

If you take a taxi, have him drop you at map signboard at the entrance to the Wong Nai Chung Gap Reservoir on Tai Tam Road. (Be careful that he does not take you to Tai Tam Reservoir, which is in another part of the island. You want to be near Park View Apartments and #5 Tai Tam Reservoir Road. From Central, the taxi would cost around HK$50.)

2. Once you are on the sidewalk on the edge of the reservoir, follow it around the corner to the end of the reservoir to a flight of stairs on the right. Go down this to the concrete path. You will follow this path and the catch water next to it for basically the next 6 km. After about 30-40 minutes, you will come to Repulse Bay, and the concrete will end and the path becomes dirt and rocks as the trail goes behind Repulse Bay. This dirt trail continues for about 30-45 minutes, then the concrete and catchwater comes back.

3. You will come to an intersection of several trails and a directional post. You want to turn RIGHT with the sign pointing “Tai Tam Tuk” and go down the stairs. (If you want a very nice view of Tai Tam Reservoir, walk straight for 40 feet or so and take in the view, then walk back and go downhill). You will go down about 200-250 stairs.

4. At the bottom of the stairs, you will come to another trail intersection and a bridge over the catchwater. You want to go RIGHT BEFORE the bridge. Continue walking along the concrete and catchwater here. (If you want to punish yourself by doing the last 2/3rds of Wilson #1 including the hills called the Twins, then cross the bridge and go right up the stairs. Bring water, a towel, and a walking pole is very helpful. It is not for the feint of heart, and should not, IMO, be attempted after about 10:30 am in any sort of warm weather. A Japanese expat died on this route about 3 months ago hiking at 11 am in 90 F heat.)

5. Once you come into the Stanley area, you will again come to an intersection of trails and steps going down to the RIGHT. Take this right and go down the stairs. These will take you all the way down to Repulse Bay Road and the end of the walk.

6. If you want to go on to Stanley and shop or have a meal, stay on the same side of the road as you just came down, there is bus stop right here to the left, you can take the 6, 6A, 6X, or 260 bus to Stanley, or just hail a taxi. It’s less than 10 minutes to Stanley by bus, a taxi could not cost you more than HK$25. If you want to go back to Central or to Repulse Bay, then cross the street (be careful, cars whiz by here) there is a stop across the street and slightly to the right, look for the post with the bus numbers on it.

This walk is somewhat inaccurately described and/or named in all my walking books, especially getting to it, which probably explains why I never knew about it before. Now that I do know about it, I can see it on the Countryside Series of maps printed by the Hong Kong Government. You can buy these at some bookshops (try Kelly & Walsh in the Pacific Place Shopping Mall) or pick them up for free at the Government Publications Office, located in the Murray Building, 22 Garden Road (tel 2537-1910). This is right next to the bottom station for the Peak Tram, and most tourists will go right by it on the way to the Peak Tram, so it is easy to stop in if you want to pick up maps. They are open 9-6 pm Mon-Fri. The Hong Kong Tourist Board offices may also have maps.

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