Needle Hill or Cham Shan (針山) is a strikingly sharp peak with a flat summit located between Shing Mun Reservoir and Shatin, in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Although it technically isn’t one of the three Sharp Peaks of Hong Kong (High Junk Peak, Sharp Peak, and Castle Peak), hiking up to its summit is equally challenging!
I believe the hill is sometimes referred to as “Jianshan”, a name given by the Hakka people who once lived in the area. In the Hakka dialect, the pronunciation of “Jian” and “needle” is quite similar, which is how the hill got its name.
The Needle Hill Hike is as challenging as it is scenic. The sharp rising hill with its narrow peak offers 360-degree views of Tai Mo Shan, Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi, Lantau Island, Shatin, and Ma On Shan.
The Needle Hill Hike
But perhaps the most popular trail to Needle Hill is the one from Shing Mun Reservoir. The steep ascent is the shortest trail up to the summit. And although many chose to descend back to Shing Mun Reservoir, I recommend continuing the hike to Shatin.
The Needle Hill Hike from Shing Mun Reservoir to Shatin is slightly longer than returning to Shing Mun Reservoir. But the descent on this route offers gorgeous views of Shatin, Ma On Shan, and the range of hills in Lion Rock Country Park and Ma On Shan Country Park.
As amazing as this hike sounds, be advised that it is a challenging hike with no shade on the top of Needle Hill. So, please remember to carry enough water and sun protection.
For most, the easiest way to arrive here is from the Kwai Fong MTR Station. From the station, take any bus (or a taxi) to Lei Muk Shue Estate.
To Maclehose Trail Section 7
Once at Lei Muk Shue Shopping Centre, cross Wo Yi Hop Road and climb up the flight of steps on the side of the hill. Follow the winding path uphill and at the first three-point junction, turn left.
About 4oo metres after turning left, look for a flight of steps on the right. This shortcut of steps brings you directly to Maclehose Trail Section 7.
To the Shing Mun Reservoir Main Dam
Once on Maclehose Trail Section 7, turn right and walk on the road till you reach a barbecue area.
The barbecue area has toilets, a vending machine for drinks, and a water fountain in case you need any of its facilities. It is also the start of Section 6 of the Maclehose Trail and the Shing Mun War Relics Trail.
For now, continue walking on Maclehose Trail Section 7, alongside the reservoir. Slightly further ahead, you’ll get your first glimpse of the water.
Continue walking on the road till you finally reach the main dam of the Shing Mun Reservoir.
If this is your first time at Shing Mun Reservoir, you might want to take your time to admire the beautiful views from the dam. You can always return here to take a peaceful walk around Shing Mun Reservoir.
For now, cross the main dam and take the steps on the other side.
At the end of the steps are two paths – Section 7 of the Maclehose Trail that goes up to Needle Hill on the right, and the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk on the left. So naturally, it’s time to turn right.
The first section of the climb
Up till this point, it’s been a warm-up to get here. The Needle Hill Hike starts at this entrance!
The hike up to Needle Hill can be thought of in three distinct climbs, with flat sections after the first and the second climbs.
As you walk through the entrance, get ready to climb the first section (approximately 500 metres) of this daunting hike! The steps at the start are relatively easy and shaded.
You might notice an unmarked trail after the first flight of steps. Ignore it and continue climbing the steps to the left. The unmarked trail heads down to Lower Shing Mun Reservoir.
The relatively easy steps soon become steep and difficult. So, remember to conserve your energy and take it slow.
Although the steep section isn’t too long, it feels like an eternity. And after another 200 metres of climbing steps comes the first flat section.
The first flat section
After this short intense climb, it’s time to catch your breath! And the first flat section is a great spot to take a short break.
This flat section is a little over 200 metres before the steps restart.
The second section of the climb
At approximately 530 metres, the next section of the climb is equally challenging as the first. And the latter half of the steps aren’t shaded.
Once again our advice is to take it easy and go slow. Climb at a comfortable pace.
When you reach the open section of the climb, make sure to turn around to admire the views below. Of course, the best views are from the top of Needle Hill!
Once again, this section of the climb felt longer than it is. However, as the shade begins to disappear and the vegetation becomes thin, you know that you’re approaching the end of this section of the climb.
The second flat section
After the final step, the trail flattens one last time before revealing Needle Hill. If you hadn’t realised it by now, Needle Hill remains hidden all throughout the hike.
Get your cameras out because Needle Hill looks very photogenic from this spot!
Keep walking as the trail dips at the base of Needle Hill and reveals the final ascent to the summit.
So, take a break and hydrate yourself before getting ready for the final ascent!
The final ascent to Needle Hill
At this stage, you’re almost at the top! The final section of the hike to Needle Hill is a 400-metre sharp ascent that consists of slopes and broken steps.
Unlike the previous sections, this section is not shaded. And if it’s a cloudless day, the sun can be brutal.
So, take your time and climb at a comfortable pace. There’s no better feeling than approaching the summit at a slow and steady rate.
Standing at 532 metres, Needle Hill offers 360 panoramic views of Hong Kong’s New Territories.
In the south, Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi, and Lamma Island are visible. Unfortunately, on the day we hiked, the haze prevented us from getting those views.
To the east and north lie the Shing Mun River valley, with Shatin and Ma On Shan. In fact, the entire range of hills in Lion Rock Country Park and Ma On Shan Country Park is clearly visible. You can see the summits of Beacon Hill, Lion Rock, Temple Hill, Tate’s Cairn, and Kowloon Peak.
And further north lie Buffalo Hill, Pyramid Hill, and Ma On Shan. On a really clear day, you can see as far as Plover Cove Reservoir.
The Needle Hill Hike is best done on a cool and clear day. The summit offers no shade, so bear that in mind.
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So, after soaking up the views, it’s time to descend. Many hikers prefer to retrace their steps back to Shing Mun Reservoir to finish the hike. You may pick this option.
However, if you wish to finish the hike in Shatin, read on.
Descend Needle Hill
To finish the hike at Shatin, continue down Maclehose Trail Section 7 as it descends on the other side of Needle Hill.
Personally, I found this descent to be incredibly picturesque!
The long winding trail down Needle Hill remains visible for quite a distance and looks quite beautiful! If you continue on this trail, you’d reach Lead Mine Pass and Grassy Hill.
We took our time descending Needle Hill as we kept stopping to take pictures.
But the slope on this side of the hill is shorter than the slope on the other side. So, before we knew it, we’d reached the base of Needle Hill.
Shing Mun Reservoir Forest Track – Needle Hill Section
At the end of the descent, the trail turns into a paved road. This section of the hike runs on the Needle Hill Section of the Shing Mun Reservoir Forest Track. The Shing Mun Reservoir Forest Tracks are a set of paved roads around the reservoir.
Once on the paved road, continue walking on its gentle incline.
Other than the views of Shatin below, make sure you turn around to admire the views of Needle Hill behind.
The road gradually moves into the shaded area of Shing Mun Country Park, which is a relief on a sunny day.
A few hundred metres ahead, the trail splits into two. On the right is an entrance marked “To Sha Tin Town”.
The Shing Mun Reservoir Forest Track continues straight to Grassy Hill, but to head to Shatin, turn right.
A short trail to the steps
From this point on, we leave Maclehose Trail (Shing Mun Reservoir Forest Track) for Pai Tau Street to Shing Mun Country Park Trail. As the trail breaks away from the Shing Mun Reservoir Forest Track, it returns to a dirt trail.
Continue walking on the undulating trail for approximately 300 metres till it splits again. The trail headed straight goes to Greenwood Terrace (in Fo Tan), whereas the steps on the right go to Shatin main town.
As we’re headed to Shatin, take the steps on the right.
Pai Tau Street to Shing Mun Country Park Trail
The next 1.7 km of the hike is a picturesque descent to Shatin on the Pai Tau Street to Shing Mun Country Park Trail.
The views as you begin your descent are covered thanks to the trees. But as soon as the trees thin out, you can begin to admire the open views of the valley below.
As the trail progresses, the steps gradually become less steep and the views become more prominent.
Soon, the steps give way to a flat, paved trail. After passing a scenic bench, the trail becomes a dirt trail and then back into a paved trail.
And after another short decline, the paved trail finally gives way to a shaded dirt trail.
At the end of this section of the trail is a flat area, with a few make-shift benches.
After the flat area, the trail sharply descends down more steps. I thought the views from these steps are very stunning!
At the bottom of the steps, the trail flattens momentarily before a short uphill climb. These are the only steps you’ll climb during this descent.
And at the end of this flight of steps, there is another flat area with some seating created by shaped trees.
Past the twisted trees, the trail continues downhill on the final flight of steps.
At the end of the steps, turn left and continue walking on the trail for another 230 metres till you reach civilization!
The Lutheran Theological Seminary
The first sight of civilization as you exit the trail is the Lutheran Theological Seminary. This campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary was constructed in 1992 and sits on top of To Fung Shan, a short hill behind Shatin.
You can keep admiring the campus of the seminary as you walk down the road. We found the buildings to be quite beautiful.
Coincidentally enough, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is located on another hill adjacent to the Lutheran Theological Seminary.
To Fung Shan Road
At the bottom of the road, next to the car park and the entrance to the seminary, is the start of To Fung Shan Road. The initial section of the road passes more halls and buildings of the Lutheran Theological Seminary.
Once past the buildings, continue walking downhill.
To Fung Shan Road twists and turns for approximately 700 metres till it reaches a small roundabout.
At the roundabout, To Fung Shan Road continues straight downhill, and Pak Lok Path is on the right. But there is also a slightly hidden pedestrian path on the left. Take this path.
The final downhill path
This path is a continuation of the Pai Tau Street to Shing Mun Country Park Trail. The previous section simply overlaps with To Fung Shan Road.
Fortunately, this path is a short and shaded trail between houses in the Pai Tau Village, that ends in front of the Shatin MTR Station.
And that brings this epic Needle Hill Hike to a close!
Shing Mun Reservoir to Shatin via Needle Hill
We hope you found our guide to the Needle Hill Hike resourceful. As always, you can do this hike from Shing Mun Reservoir to Shatin or in reverse. Or perhaps you prefer returning to where you started from.
Also, we advise that this hike be done in the cooler months because it is challenging and the trail around the summit offers no shade.
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