Braemar Hill is one of my favourite spots on Hong Kong island for its unobstructed and sweeping views of the skyline. But recently I discovered a scenic hike from Braemar Hill to Tai Tam Reservoir. This hike passes through Sir Cecil’s Ride Stream, Siu Ma Shan Peak, Mount Butler, and finally ends at the Tai Tam Reservoir Mound Fall. Those are some pretty scenic locations or lookout spots in Hong Kong.
So, if you’re looking for a moderately difficult hike, with expansive views of Hong Kong’s skyline on the island itself, read on.
The Hike – In Numbers and Visualised
I have to admit that I got lost a couple of times on the hike as the path isn’t always clearly marked. And there is a stretch that involved me bushwhacking my way up a hill. So, make sure that you read my directions carefully to not get lost along the way. And click here to open the map of the hike in Google Maps.
However, there is also an alternate (non-scenic and easy) route, that some of you might prefer. I’ll link that at the end of this post.
But first, check out the highlights video from this hike.
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To start this hike, make your way to the Braemar Hill bus terminus. My preferred option is:
- Head to Tin Hau MTR
- Take Exit A or B and into Tin Hau Station Public Transport Interchange
- From here, catch the green minibus 49M
- Alight at the Braemar Hill bus terminus, and walk across the street and down the steps to the path adjacent to the Joan of Arc Secondary School.
That’s the starting point.
Braemar Hill to Sir Cecil’s Stream
Walk down the path, and climb up the steps and ramp just behind the Joan of Arc Secondary School. Once you reach the main hiking path, turn left and continue walking. If you turn right that path would take you to my favourite sunset spot in Hong Kong.
The trail is shaded and flat as it winds behind the housing estates on Braemar Hill. After about 15 mins, you’ll arrive at Sir Cecil’s Stream and resting area.
This hidden gem suddenly appears out of nowhere. A charming little bridge with a stream running below it. On one side is the hill with the water flowing and on the other a view of the skyline – perfectly representative of Hong Kong.
If you stand facing the resting area, there are two paths that you can take. Turn right, and climb the steps towards the Tai Tam Reservoir path.
Sir Cecil’s Stream to Morning Joggers Park
Once again this stretch is mostly flat, except for a few steps along the way. The path runs parallel to the stream, and waterfall, till you reach the first park. From here, the path curves left and climbs up a few more steps before you reach the second park with an arch.
This is where things get interesting. The next stretch of the hike is a bit adventurous (I too was warned by a very nice person at the park). It involves bushwhacking your way through a narrow, almost invisible trail. But the reward is worth it! Expansive 180-degree views of Hong Kong’s skyline just waiting to be admired!
Proceed onto the next section at your own risk, and only if you’re comfortable hiking in Hong Kong. It’s short and not too difficult, but there is a possibility of getting lost as there are no visible markers and the trail is somewhat hidden. If you prefer to take the non-scenic route, I’ll link the map to that route at the end of this post.
Up To The Walker Street Signal Station
Enter the park, and walk up the steps next to the chin-up bar. Turn right and continue walking. Now, don’t take the normal-looking path that’s on the left. Instead, climb up the slope (which may be slippery) through the narrow opening. Once you reach the flat top, continue walking through the bushes. Be careful as the path tappers to its sides. You’ll need to climb up another slope which will bring you out onto a rocky surface.
Make sure you turn around here and soak in the view from this point. If you want a better view, turn right and walk to the edge of the hill where there’s a flat area.
Once you’ve admired the view, return to the path and continue walking up the hill towards the mast. Walk under the mast till you reach the colourful Walker Street Signal Station. From this point on, the trail becomes normal again.
Walk down the path on the right and stay on it for about 5 minutes. Keep your eyes open as there is a left turn that’s concealed by the trees. If you reach the steps, you’ve gone too far.
Once you turn, walk down this path for about 2 minutes till you see the Siu Ma Shan Bridge on your right.
There is a less adventurous, but slightly longer and more scenic route from Braemar Hill to this point. Click here to open the route map in Google Maps.
It involves going in the opposite direction and coming via Mount Butler H.F. Radio Receiving Station. The route offers amazing views of the Hong Kong skyline in exchange for Sir Cecil’s Ride Stream.
Across Siu Ma Shan
The next section of the trail is the most challenging but also the most scenic part of this hike!
Cross the Siu Ma Shan Bridge and start the arduous task of climbing the stairs to the top along Wilson Trail Section 2. As you climb, remember to look back once in a while to admire the skyline below. And as you climb higher, the view gets better. When you reach the flat-top ridge of Siu Ma Shan, stay here as long as you want because this is one unique, all-encompassing view of Hong Kong. It’s simply spectacular!
Carry on hiking till Tai Tam Reservoir appears in front of you, and you reach a 3-way point. Turn left towards Mount Butler. There’s a short, final uphill climb to Mount Butler’s viewing point.
From on top of Mount Butler, you get gorgeous views of the south side of Tai Tam and can even see the Dragon’s Back. And on the other side, there’s Kowloon and Tai Koo.
From here on, the hike is all downhill!
Mount Butler to Quarry Gap Pavilion
A short trail down Mount Butler brings you out to the Quarry Gap Pavilion at the foot of the hill. The pavilion has plenty of benches, a park, and a public toilet.
Once you reach this area, take the trail on Mount Parker Road towards Tai Tam Reservoir. It will be on the right-hand side.
Side note: If you ever return here, check out the wartime stoves near Mount Parker Road.
To Tai Tam Reservoir Upper Dam
The road to Tai Tam Upper Dam from the Quarry Gap Pavilion is covered by a canopy of trees and is paved all the way. The trees offer natural cooling which is quite pleasant, especially during the summer months.
The walk to the start of the upper dam is about 2 km and will take you around 25-30 mins.
Take your time, and enjoy the view around the dam. After that, walk across the dam, take a left and walk till the path merges with Tai Tam Reservoir Road. There’s also a shorter path below the reservoir wall that merges with Mount Parker Road ahead.
Either way, Tai Tam Reservoir Road and Mount Parker Road merge 800 metres downstream.
At the point where Tai Tam Reservoir Road and Mount Parker Road merge, there are a couple of options on how to end the hike. I prefer taking the trail towards Tai Tam Road via the Tai Tam Mound Fall.
To Tai Tam Mound Fall
The moment you emerge on Tai Tam Reservoir Road, look for the sign for Tai Tam Road via Hong Kong Trail Section 6.
Take the steps and simply follow the path till you reach the small bridge over a stream. Getting under the waterfall requires a bit of an effort. But you can still walk on the rocks along the stream, and stay above the waterfall. It’s quite peaceful here, as long as there are no people.
Once you’re ready, continue hiking along the trail till you reach Tai Tam Road. Be careful of cars as you walk onto the road as there is no pedestrian path. Wait for the oncoming traffic to stop, and then walk along the right-hand side of the road till you reach the bus stop. To finish the hike, take bus number 14 to Sai Wan Ho MTR, or the green minibus 16X/16M/16A to Chai Wan MTR.
Braemar Hill to Tai Tam Hike
This is one of the more scenic hikes that I’ve undertaken on Hong Kong Island. It crosses two streams (and waterfalls) and runs along a ridge with stunning 180-degree views of Hong Kong’s skyline.
But before I forget, there is a less scenic but much easier route to go from Braemar Hill to Tai Tam Reservoir. This route bypasses Siu Ma Shan and Mount Butler and goes straight to Quarry Gap Pavilion. Click here to open the Braemar Hill to Tai Tam Reservoir easy route in Google Maps.
If you enjoyed this hike, I would also recommend that you check out the hike from Parkview (near Tai Tam) to Jardines Lookout and Mount Butler. And as always, don’t forget to share this hike with your friends on the social media channel of your choice.