The Mount Davis Hike is a relatively easy hike on the westernmost hill on Hong Kong Island. The hike explores the war relics of the former Mount Davis Battery, the headquarters of the Western Fire Command during World War II, that lie in ruins today.
Mount Davis Hike
As mentioned, the hike to the top of Mount Davis is relatively quite easy. At 269 metres, Mount Davis isn’t all that difficult to climb. The trail to the top is essentially a paved road used by cars and is at a constant incline (see elevation below). So, in reality, think of it more as an exploratory walk.
However, the Mount Davis Hike isn’t known for its challenging nature but the countless war relics scattered all over the hill, that are a delight to uncover!
About Mount Davis Battery
The Mount Davis Battery was built in the early 20th century and served as the headquarters of the Western Fire Command. It was responsible for the defence of the western part of Hong Kong Island.
When the war arrived in Hong Kong in December 1941, the battery was heavily bombarded by the Japanese. Before surrendering to the enemy, the personnel destroyed the remaining armament and equipment.
Today, the battery comprises five gun emplacements, the Western Fire Command Headquarters, ammunition stores, and accommodation buildings.
As you hike to the top of Mount Davis, you’ll come across numerous structures, lying in ruins and overrun by nature. The gun emplacements fall along the hike’s route.
To start the Mount Davis Hike, make your way to Mount Davis Path. The road diverges from Victoria Road opposite The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus.
Depending on where you’re coming from, there are plenty of buses (1, 43M, 47P, 971) and minibuses (54, 54S, 58, 58A, 58M, 59) that stop next to this path.
Before you start the Mount Davis Hike, it might be worthwhile to check out Jubilee Battery, which is located at the foot of Mount Davis right below The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus.
If you want to just take a look at the battery and gun emplacement, enter the gate of the campus and look below to the right from the viewing area.
If you want to visit the battery, walk down the flight of steps down the road and then walk below the campus to reach it.
I believe this is the fifth gun emplacement on Mount Davis as I only spotted four others on the hill. I could be wrong.
After visiting or viewing Jubilee Battery, walk back to Mount Davis Path and start walking up the inclined road.
To the second gun emplacement
The hike up Mount Davis is fairly straightforward along the Mount Davis Path. Simply walk along the road as it navigates its way uphill.
The initial part of the hike passes by the back of the buildings on Mount Davis. At the first turn, follow the red sign for Jockey Club Mt. Davis Youth Hostel to continue on the correct track.
Much before you reach the gun emplacement, you’ll notice a couple of dilapidated structures along the way. Some of them may be hidden or camouflaged.
With all these old structures and hidden steps, it’s no surprise that Mount Davis was a (maybe still is) popular location to play war games. Feel free to explore these hidden steps and trails, but my advice is to return to the main path as it’s the easiest to navigate.
Continue walking on Mount Davis Path till you cross the outdoor playground. One thing worth noting just after the playground is the sign for Victoria Road on the way. Make a note of it.
Anyway, keep walking as you admire all the dilapidated structures along the way until you finally arrive at a pavilion.
Right next to the pavilion is the gun emplacement.
To the third gun emplacement
To get to the next gun emplacement, there’s a nifty shortcut that you can take to avoid all the cars. Just as you continue walking uphill on Mount Davis Path after the second gun emplacement, you’ll notice a flight of steps on the left. Walk up these steps.
The steps essentially cut across to Mount Davis Path on the other side, but not before passing another hidden group of structures that, I believe, were part of the Mount Davis Battery.
Once you emerge on the road, turn left and walk for another 50 metres.
And here, to the left is the third gun emplacement.
To the Mount Davis Youth Hostel
Continue walking uphill after viewing the third gun emplacement. Up ahead, as the road turns you’ll notice another sign, next to a flight of steps going downhill, for Victoria Road. Make a mental note of this sign.
Soon after the sign to Victoria Road, you’ll arrive at the Jockey Club Mount Davis Youth Hostel.
Right opposite the Youth Hostel are two diverging paths. The more visible path is a cemented, 45-degree slope on the left (dubbed the ramp), and the other is a dirt path behind the car park.
To get to the next gun emplacement, take the dirt path and walk behind the car park.
Fourth gun emplacement
The area behind the car park resembles a fort. The stone wall that runs alongside the hill makes me think that this was the Mount Davis Fort. Again, this is just a guess looking at the structure.
If you’re facing the wall, walk towards the right. There is an ionospheric station housing an ionosonde. The ionosonde was set up in a refurbished bunkhouse by the University of Hong Kong Physics department in 1969.
Right next to the ionospheric station is the fourth gun emplacement. The top of the gun emplacement is covered, but I am fairly certain that is where one of the guns was placed.
Feel free to explore the other old structures around this gun emplacement.
To the fifth gun emplacement
To get to the last gun emplacement, I would recommend taking the narrow steps opposite the fourth gun emplacement.
The steps cut across a narrow corridor and make their way through the fort. Along the way, there are a couple of rooms or lookout points adjacent to the steps.
When you make it to the top of the steps, turn right and follow the dirt trail around the corner. The trail emerges next to the campground on top of Mount Davis.
The final gun emplacement is to the left of this path, opposite the campground. This was my favourite gun emplacement as it is easy to explore and not overrun by nature.
To the headquarters and accommodation rooms
The final stop on the Mount Davis Hike is the largest structure located next to the peak of Mount Davis. I can only imagine that this building consisted of the headquarters and accommodation rooms.
To get this structure, turn right and walk on the dirt path next to the Mount Davis campground. As the path turns left at the end of the campground, there is a building with many rooms.
You can walk down the path in front of the building to explore the ruins.
After that, return to the dirt path and continue walking up the incline. At the end of the incline, you’ll find another line of rooms on the left, and a tunnel on the right.
There are a few more rooms hidden inside the tunnel.
Continue down the path to see the final set of rooms in ruins. Again, since there are no signs here, I can only imagine that this structure was the headquarters of the Western Fire Command.
I spent a considerable amount of time here just exploring the ruins. There are plenty of hidden paths running all around the top. It’s truly fascinating!
Mount Davis Peak
No hike is complete without reaching the top of the hill! So, if you want to reach the Mount Davis summit, walk on the path in between the ruins on either side. These are the ruins right underneath the tower.
At the end of the ruins, the path goes up the small slope. Once you climb that slope, the Mount Davis triangulation station should be right in front.
From here, you can see the mighty Mount High West and Victoria Peak straight ahead.
End the hike
Once you’re completely satisfied that you’re done exploring the ruins of Mount Davis, you have two options to end the hike.
- The first option is to return the same way that you came up from.
- Or there is a second option that involves taking a shortcut to Victoria Road. I’m referring to the steps with the signs to Victoria Road that you noticed on your way up. These steps cut straight across the north face of the hill, straight to Victoria Road below.
Shortcut to Victoria Road
From the Mount Davis peak, trace your steps back to the fifth gun emplacement, and take “the ramp” down to the Mount Davis Youth Hostel.
Right after the Youth Hostel are the first flight of steps with the sign to Victoria Road. Walk down these steps till you reach the Mount Davis Path next to the playground.
The next flight of steps should be visible right ahead. Unfortunately, this part of the shortcut isn’t as well maintained as the one above.
The steps almost immediately turn into an unmaintained and narrow trail, which then makes its way downhill through the lush vegetation of Mount Davis.
Be careful of spiders and uneven stones along this path. Also, keep a lookout for more relics lying in ruins on this path.
As you get close to Victoria Road, the steps become extremely narrow and the path feels like a cage! If hikers are coming from the other direction, it might become slightly difficult to pass.
Fortunately, the caged trail ends soon enough on Victoria Road. From here, you can catch the same set of buses or walk for 10 minutes to the Kennedy Town MTR Station.
Mount Davis – HK’s Western Fire Command
I hope you find this guide to exploring the war relics of Mount Davis helpful. As there wasn’t much information on the signs at the battery or online, I may have misidentified some structures. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
Also, in case you haven’t been to Cape Collinson Battery, Hong Kong’s Eastern Fire Command, we highly recommend it! And also Pinewood Battery, which was Hong Kong’s aerial defence battery behind Mount Davis.
More information about Mount Davis, along with some interesting old photographs, can be viewed on Gwulo and this website. As always, do leave us your comments below and feel free to share this post on the social media channel of your choice.
If you enjoy my photography, come join us on Instagram 🙂