The hike to Ap Lei Pai via Mount Johnston (Yuk Kai Shan) is perhaps the most popular hike on Ap Lei Chau. However, you’d be mistaken if you thought that this is the only hike on the little island.
For its miniature size (1.3 sq km, including reclaimed land), Ap Lei Chau has another hike to offer. And that is the Lower Mount Johnston or Ka Yuk Kai Shan hike, located to the northeast of Mount Johnston.
The Lower Mount Johnston Hike is nothing like the Ap Lei Pai via Mount Johnston Hike. It’s relatively very easy and starts and ends on Ap Lei Chau itself. However, it does offer views of Lamma Island and the South China Sea that are similar to its bigger sibling.
About the Lower Mount Johnston Hike
Although I am slightly confused about the name of this hill as the signs refer to it as Yuk Kwai Shan, I will refer to it as Lower Mount Johnston or Ka Yuk Kai Shan in this post. If you’re more knowledgeable on this subject, please drop us a comment below.
The Lower Mount Johnston Hike starts from Lei Tung Estate and ends at Lee Nam Road. The trail covers a distance of 1 km, which does involve a bit of climbing to reach the 143 m tall Lower Mount Johnston.
Although the climb involves steps, it’s quite easy and short. The descent, on the other hand, is more gradual and much longer. And not to mention, very scenic!
Here’s a quick aerial video of the hill and its surroundings.Subscribe to my YouTube channel
The Lower Mount Johnston Hike starts from the outdoor seating area behind Tung Yip House and Tung Cheong House at Lei Tung Estate.
There are two options to arrive here – by bus or MTR.
A bus is perhaps the easier option as you can alight at the Lei Tung Market stop on Lei Tung Estate Road. If you arrive by MTR, then make sure you follow the signs for the Lei Tung Market or Lei Tung Community Hall.
Once at the Lei Tung Market bus stop, walk away from the shops and restaurants, towards Tung Yip House and Tung Cheong House, and take the ramp up to the first level.
Turn left as you exit the ramp and walk towards the outdoor seating area and park.
Cut across to the other side where there is an uphill path on the side of the hill. This is the starting point for the hike.
To the red pavilion
The hike begins on a gentle uphill incline that should pose no challenge.
Just ahead, before the path curves to the right, make sure you get a good look at Mount Johnston on the side.
At the end of the incline is a few basketball courts. But to continue the hike, take the incline on the left behind the courts.
Climb the following steps and continue as the trail curves left and steps space out.
At the end of the steps, the trail arrives at the red pavilion with slightly obstructed views.
Take a break and prepare yourself for the next section of the hike.
The very narrow steps uphill
Standing at the red pavilion, it’s not immediately obvious where the trail continues. The steps behind the pavilion look too narrow and like those that are meant for slope maintenance.
Nonetheless, the narrow steps mark the final ascent to Lower Mount Johnston.
The steps aren’t too difficult to climb. However, the real challenge is if people are coming towards you from the opposite direction!
The views from the steps also get better as there are no trees to obstruct them.
Keep climbing the steps till they reach a point where the trail splits into two.
At this point, you can go either way because there is a circular path on top of Lower Mount Johnston. And this is one of the two points where the paths meet.
As the path to the left looked unmaintained, we continued on the steps and followed the signs for “Yuk Kwai Shan”.
The steps finally end at the top of Lower Mount Johnston, where the path again splits into two. Same instructions, you can either go straight or turn left.
The top of Lower Mount Johnston
The summit of Lower Mount Johnston is essentially a flat top hill with a garden area. The divergent paths encountered earlier are all connected on top of the hill.
Take your time exploring the top of Mount Johnston, as there are a few viewing points up here.
There’s an especially nice viewing point, with a bench, to the south overlooking Lamma Island.
The views may not be as panoramic as they are from Mount Johnston, but then again it’s more challenging to access them.
The scenic descent
Once you’re done admiring the viewpoints and walking around the top of Lower Mount Johnston, it’s time to head down.
The trail continues downhill next to the pavilion with the inscriptions.
Unlike steps uphill, the steps downhill are wider and less steep. And as you can probably tell, very scenic too!
As you descend, you have views of the South China Sea with Lamma Island in front and on the left. And to the right, are Aberdeen and Mount Kellett.
Further ahead, as the trees clear, the views become even more impressive! Honestly, this is such an easy hike for such lovely views!
And even though it was a cloudy day when we hiked, we were still impressed by the views.
As the steps come to an end, you can enjoy the views one last time before the trees reappear.
The steps meander past Yuk Kwai Shan Service Reservoir Sitting-Out Area before coming to an end.
At the landing, continue left on the trail till it reaches a motorable service road (probably for service vehicles needing access to the Yuk Kwai Shan Service Reservoir).
End at Lee Nam Road
The final section of the Lower Mount Johnston Hike involves an easy downhill walk on the service road.
The service road runs parallel to South Horizons and is a very smooth exit to the hike.
At the end of the service road is a barrier that connects it to Lee Nam Road, bringing the Lower Mount Johnston Hike to a close.
There are plenty of buses back to Hong Kong Island or the Kowloon side from Lee Nam Road. Or you could turn left onto Lee Nam Road and then right onto Yi Nam Road to arrive at the South Horizons MTR Station.
Ka Yuk Kwai Shan / Lower Mount Johnston
We hoped you enjoyed our guide to the Lower Mount Johnston Hike. As mentioned earlier, Ka Yuk Kwai Shan or Lower Mount Johnston offers an easy and fun alternative hike to its bigger sibling.
There is no denying that the Mount Johnston Hike to Ap Lei Pai is quite challenging. But if you’re looking for a hike with similar views that’s easier, shorter, and family and summer-friendly, this is a great option!
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