Lion Rock – Hong Kong’s iconic peak is not only known for breathtaking views of the city but also its peculiar shape that can be identified from miles. For those living in Hong Kong, it is a symbol of grit and determination. And for many, Lion Rock is a must-do hike! Personally, I waited for ages for the perfect day to conquer Lion Rock. After all, this hike is all about the views of the city below!
For those of you looking to hike up Lion Rock, I have put together this guide. I’m going to keep things simple yet thorough while answering all the questions you may have about the hike.
How Difficult Is Lion Rock?
I would say moderately difficult in parts thanks to all the stairs. But the rest of the hike is easy.
Of course, this depends on your level of fitness and how comfortable you are with hiking. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone would classify Lion Rock Hike as an easy hike.
There are a couple of trails to Lion Rock Head, and most of them are equally difficult. But in this post, I will focus on the most popular and scenic route from Wong Tai Sin.
Here’s a quick video that walks you through the hike. It should give you an idea of the difficulty.
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Different hiking routes to Lion Rock
I’m aware that there are plenty of hiking trails to reach the top of Lion Rock.
- There are two trails from Wong Tai Sin via Fat Jong Temple.
- There is a trail from Lion Rock Park (also in Wong Tai Sin) via Kowloon Pass.
- And there is a trail from Shatin via Amah Rock.
This post will focus on the trails from Wong Tai Sin via Fat Jong Temple. We will ascend on the long, scenic route. And we will descend from the short, less scenic route.
If you’re hiking from Shatin, read our post on the Lion Rock Hike via Amah Rock.
Lion Rock Hike Map & Elevation Profile
Here is the map of the recommended trail for Lion Rock for your reference. It starts from Wong Tai Sin MTR Station, makes its way via the Fat Jong Temple before entering the Lion Rock Country Park. You can also open this trail in Google Maps.
The whole hike took me just over 2 hours to complete – 1.5 hours to climb up, and 40 minutes to come down (I took a shorter trail on my way down). Obviously, this does not include the time spent admiring the views from the top.
A large portion of the hike is uncovered and without shade (including the top). So, be sure to carry an umbrella and sunscreen with you. I would also recommend that you carry at least 1 litre of water. Maybe more if it’s a hot day, or you get dehydrated easily.
Lion Rock Starting Point: Wong Tai Sin
Getting to the starting point of the Lion Rock Hike is really simple. Take the green MTR line to Wong Tai Sin MTR station, the stop between Diamond Hill and Lok Fu. The hike technically starts from inside the MTR station.
For the sake of simplicity and recollection, I’ve divided the hike into 5 parts, each with its own checkpoint. That’s the way I like to think of and remember the hike.
So, once you arrive at Wong Tai Sin MTR Station, it’s time to get started.
Wong Tai Sin MTR to Fat Jong Temple
For the first section of this hike, make your way to Fat Jong Temple on Shatin Pass Road. You have two options to reach the temple.
You can walk to Fat Jong Temple (click here for the map). The temple is a 20-minute walk from the Wong Tai Sin MTR station. But be warned, it’s up a relatively steep incline.
Take Exit E from the MTR station and turn left. Walk 100 metres, and then turn left again. From this point, continue straight on Shatin Pass Road and follow it as it starts the incline. Unfortunately, this part isn’t easy. The incline can be quite tough for a lot of people. That’s why there’s option 2.
You can also take a taxi to Fat Jong Temple. At the MTR station, follow the signs to Temple Mall. From the mall take any exit (B or C) where you can see taxis. Tell the driver to take you to Fat Jong Temple. This is the furthest point to which taxis can go.
Or you could take the green minibus 18M from outside Exit E to Shatin Pass Estate. The housing complex is across the street from the temple.
One of the reasons why I advise you to take a taxi or minibus to Fat Jong Temple is because the initial incline is quite steep. And it’s not like the incline finishes at Fat Jong Temple. So, if you want to conserve energy and time, pick this option.
Fat Jong Temple is the checkpoint for Part 1.
Fat Jong Temple to Lion Rock Country Park Entrance
Once you reach Fat Jong Temple, continue on Shatin Pass Road for another 20 minutes. The road twists and turns as it keeps climbing. Along the way, you’ll start to see nice views of Kowloon on the right. But I doubt this view would compensate for you being so out of breath at this stage.
Trust me, this part seems never-ending. But continue to persevere till you reach the entrance of Lion Rock Country Park.
At this point, I would advise you to take a break. You’ve earned it! I know many of you will feel really frustrated because you’ve spent 20 or 40 minutes already, and you’re still on the paved road. Hang in there, it gets worse before it gets better!
The entrance to the Lion Rock Country Park is the checkpoint for Part 2.
Lion Rock Country Park Steps
Once you enter Lion Rock Country Park, it finally feels like you’re on a hike in the wilderness. But you’re probably already exhausted from walking up this distance that you may not have the energy to climb those steps. My advice is to go slow, take it easy. There are a few good resting spots along the way.
After a certain point, you start getting really beautiful views of Kowloon on your left. There is a segment where the views of the steps against the city are just so beautiful. It was here that I began to feel that the hike is really worth it. The good news is that just around this corner, the steps finish, and the flat terrain begins.
Once the terrain turns flat, you’ve reached the checkpoint for Part 3.
The Flat Terrain
This is the only part of the hike that is on a flat surface! And it feels like such a relief after all that climbing. Most of this segment is also covered by trees, which means there’s plenty of shade.
However, a word of caution – there are also plenty of monkeys on those trees. Stay calm and carry on hiking. The monkeys won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Refrain from feeding them, or eating in front of them. Also, look after your belongings.
During this stage, you’ll get beautiful views of Tai Wai and Shatin on your right. If it’s a clear day, you can see all the way up to Plover Cove Reservoir! At the halfway point, you’ll also come across a path with a sign for Shatin Pass Estate. Make a mental note of it.
Stay on this trail till you reach a small sign for Lion Rock Peak on the left.
This is the checkpoint for Part 4.
The Final 500m Climb
You’re almost there! From here on, the Lion Rock Peak is only 500 metres away. The final stage purely consists of steep steps all the way to the peak. There is no need to rush yourself. Go slow, take it easy, and climb at a pace that you’re comfortable with. This is probably the most difficult part of the hike.
When you finally emerge from the steps, you’ll be greeted by some of the most spectacular views of Hong Kong right in front of you!
Congratulation, you made it to the final checkpoint – The Lion Rock Peak!
Views From Lion Rock Peak
Just check out the photos of the views from on top of Lion Rock. I don’t think words are needed.
A point to remember is that there are three peaks on Lion Rock – the tail, the body, and the head, that’s the way I like to think of them. From where you emerge from the steps is the tail. You can see the other two on your right. Each peak is like a mound, separated by a trench. It’s relatively easy to go from one peak to another. The last rocky peak is the Lion Rock Head, the cliff that can be seen from even Hong Kong Island on a clear day.
The views from the Lion Rock Peak are simply breathtaking! The peak lies on a ridge that separates Kowloon from the New Territories. So, you can see Kowloon and Hong Kong Island on one side, and New Territories on the other. Standing here makes you feel like a king, who lords above all this land. It really is a spectacular sight! No wonder it’s such an iconic and symbolic peak for Hong Kong!
End The Hike
Once you’re done soaking in all the views from Lion Rock, it’s time to head back down. The route I recommend is a slight variation of the trail you hiked up.
Remember the signpost for Shatin Pass Estate? Head back there, and follow the steps down on this route.
This trail will bring you out just behind the Fat Jong Temple, near the Shatin Pass Pump House. From here you can walk down to Wong Tai Sin MTR station, or take the green minibus 18M from Shatin Pass Estate back to the station.
Although it took me 1.5 hours to hike up, it only took me 40 minutes to come down. In addition, the route down is half the length (2 km vs. 4 km) of the route up.
So, why didn’t I recommend it to go up? Because it consists only of steps all the way to the top and isn’t as scenic. However, you can definitely take these steps up to Lion Rock. It will cut your journey distance in half.
Best Time For The Hike
The Lion Rock Hike is best enjoyed on a clear day, before mid-day or in the evening.
If you decide to hike in the morning, I would advise you to start early and complete the trail before noon. Or you can start in the afternoon, and complete it by early evening (before sundown).
A vast portion of the hike lacks shade, including the peak. On a clear, hot day the sun can be very unforgiving on Lion Rock Peak. Again, remember to carry that sunscreen and/or umbrella.
Lion Rock Night Hike
The hike is equally popular as a night activity. The views of the city at night from Lion Rock are simply spectacular! You can stand there and watch the lights come on and illuminate the world beneath you in spectacular fashion.
However, I wouldn’t recommend that you attempt the night hike before you’ve conquered Lion Rock during the daytime. Once you’re comfortable with the trail and confident of your level of fitness, go for it. And most importantly, don’t forget to carry a torch.
Lion Rock – Hong Kong’s Iconic & Symbolic Peak
Completing the Lion Rock Hike feels like unlocking an achievement in Hong Kong. After all, it’s one of the most iconic hikes in the city.
Speaking of iconic hikes, if you’re new to Hong Kong or just visiting, I would recommend Dragon’s Back as a good starter hike. But if you’re hiking for similar views of the city, I would recommend the hike to Temple Hill or Beacon Hill. They both offer equally great views, with slightly less climbing.
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