The walk around the Shing Mun Reservoir is one of the most beautiful and idyllic walks in Hong Kong in my opinion. The reservoir is nestled between Tai Mo Shan and Needle Hill and features scenic viewing points, natural attractions, and over 20 picnic spots. The reservoir is also known for its bustling wildlife including monkeys, butterflies, and cattle. And its character changes with every season!
Shing Mun Reservoir is also referred to as “Upper Shing Mun Reservoir”, to help distinguish it from “Lower Shing Mun Reservoir“, which lies further down the Shing Mun Gorge.
The best way to enjoy the beauty of Shing Mun Reservoir is to complete the 7.5 km loop around it. Or walk only the scenic part and combine it with the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail. Alternatively, there is also the much longer Section 7 of the Wilson Trail that runs alongside the reservoir.
Although the paved track around Shing Mun Reservoir is commonly referred to as the “Reservoir Walk”, it oftentimes feels like a hike, especially on the steep inclines.
In this post, we’ll focus on the scenic section of the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk, highlight the attractions along the way, and include the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail.
Getting to Shing Mun Reservoir
You can get to Shing Mun Reservoir walk from either Tsuen Wan or Kwai Fong.
From Tsuen Wan
The easiest way to arrive at Shing Mun Reservoir from Tsuen Wan is via the green minibus 82 from Shiu Wo Street. The bus plies between Tsuen Wan and the start of the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail on Shing Mun Road.
From Kwai Fong
Alternatively, you can also arrive at the reservoir from the Kwai Fong side. From Kwai Fong MTR Station, take any bus towards Lei Muk Shue Estate.
From Lei Muk Shue Estate, Shing Mun Reservoir is a 1.2 km walk on a gentle incline.
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. If you see any monkeys along the way, please ignore them and do not feed them. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.
About 4oo metres after the three-point junction, look for a flight of steps on the right. Take this shortcut that brings you onto the south side of the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk, which overlaps with Maclehose Trail Section 7.
About the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk
The complete loop around Shing Mun Reservoir is 7.5 km. However, the 1.4 km section south of the Pineapple Dam can be skipped because it’s non-scenic and away from the reservoir.
You can choose to start or end the walk at the Pineapple Dam bus stop. We usually choose to end it at Pineapple Dam, but I know many prefer starting from Pineapple Dam. In this post, we will end at the Pineapple Dam. But if you want to start here, simply follow the instructions in reverse.
For me, the scenic section of the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk is between the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail and the barbecue area at the start of Section 6 of the Maclehose Trail, as shown in the map above.
So, with that out of the way, let’s take a walk around Shing Mun Reservoir, and highlight the main points of attractions.
To the main dam
We’ve already described how to reach the reservoir from Lei Muk Shue Estate. The shortcut with the steps brings you out onto Maclehose Trail Section 7. Once here, turn right and walk along the road till you reach a barbecue area.
This barbecue area, with toilets, a vending machine for drinks, and a water fountain is the start of Section 6 of the Maclehose Trail, which is also the start of the Shing Mun War Relics Trail.
The Shing Mun War Relics Trail is one of my favourite war trails in Hong Kong that takes you on a tour of a series of tunnels, that were part of the Gin Drinker’s Line, built on the side of the hill during WWII. We have a detailed guide on the Shing Mun War Relics Trail and highly recommend it if you haven’t seen the tunnels.
But for now, continue walking on Maclehose Trail Section 7. Along this section, there are plenty of views of the reservoir. But keep walking for a few minutes till you reach the main dam of the Shing Mun Reservoir.
Shing Mun Reservoir Main Dam
The reservoir was once popularly known as the Jubilee Reservoir to celebrate the Silver Jubilee (1935) of King George V. However, I don’t think anyone refers to it by this name anymore.
The Shing Mun Reservoir was built as part of the Shing Mun Water Supply Scheme to meet the increasing demand for freshwater and was the first reservoir to transfer water from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. Construction began in 1933 and finished in 1937.
The 280-foot main dam holds about three thousand million gallons of water inside the reservoir. At the start of the main dam is the memorial stone briefly mentions the history behind the reservoir.
Standing on the main wall of the dam, you can truly admire the size of the reservoir, as its still waters reflect Tai Mo Shan.
On the other side, are the Shing Mun Gorge and the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir. We recently hiked from the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir to the Shing Mun Reservoir. And if it’s a clear day, you can also see Lion Rock far in the distance.
I love the views and tranquillity of the main dam of the Shing Mun Reservoir.
After you’re done admiring the main dam, walk to the other side and take the steps. 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.
To the first viewing point
Walk on the paved track, as it twists and turns and begins its gentle uphill incline. Although the walk is relatively easy in most parts, there are a few very steep sections up ahead.
The initial section is at a gentle to moderate incline. It passes a beautiful picnic area almost every 5oo metres and offers plenty of glimpses of the reservoir.
After approximately 800 metres of walking, you’ll arrive at the first viewing point.
The viewing point is built like an open-air deck. The hardwood flooring, seating made out of logs, and the ropes add a beautiful touch to an already scenic view.
To the Grassy Hill Intersection
The next 1.5 km of the Reservoir Walk is a bit of a challenge, not initially but in the latter half.
From the viewing point, the walk heads downhill on a shaded track. Unfortunately, there aren’t any views to be had from here.
At the bottom of the hill, is another fairly large and beautiful picnic area. The track curves around the picnic area, and at the next bend begins its steep uphill climb!
Fortunately, the steepest section is only 500 metres long. And at some point, I’m sure many would have questioned if this is a hike or a walk.
But as I said, the steep section is relatively short, and at the end of it is a resting area that intersects with the trail for Grassy Hill / Needle Hill and the second viewing point.
To the second viewing point
At the Grassy Hill Intersection, the track on the left leads you to the second viewing point. A short 100-metre walk brings you to a pavilion overlooking the reservoir and the city beyond.
It’s worth noting that this is the highest point on the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk.
Shing Mun Leisure Deck detour (optional)
I’m sure by now you would have noticed a beautiful lookout point, with a pavilion, on top of a flat hill from both the first and the second viewing points. This is the Shing Mun Leisure Deck.
The Shing Mun Leisure Deck is a 360-metre detour (720-metre return) from the second viewing point. The signs and path are visible.
If you’re looking for the best, unobstructed views of Shing Mun Reservoir, I suggest taking the detour to the Shing Mun Leisure Deck.
To the Paperbark Tree Forest
After you’re done admiring the views from the second viewing pavilion and the Shing Mun Leisure, return to the Grassy Hill Intersection, and continue downhill on the Reservoir Walk track.
Although this section of the walk is all downhill, there aren’t many views. But depending on what season you’re visiting the reservoir, you may see a couple of streams and waterfalls along this section.
At the end of the downhill section, the track flattens before arriving at a large picnic area behind the Paperbark Tree Forest.
Once again, the entire look and feel of the forest changes with the season. During the dry season, when there is less water in the reservoir, the roots of the paperback trees are exposed. The ground is visible and the entire area transforms into a gorgeous shore bank to sit on.
But come the rainy season, when the streams are flowing into the reservoir, the water rises and submerges the bottom of the trees. During this time, the Paperbark Tree Forest becomes one of the most photographed natural attractions in Hong Kong!
Also, during the dry season, it is possible to cut across the forest to reach the other side of the Reservoir Walk. However, when the forest is submerged, one has no choice but to walk around on the Reservoir Track.
Fun fact, the paperbark trees were planted by the government in the 1940s.
To Tai Shing Stream
Continue walking on the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk behind the Paperbark Tree Forest towards the Lead Mine Pass Intersection. The hike via the Lead Mine Pass ultimately ends in Tai Po. But to continue along the reservoir, follow the sign for Tsuen Wan and turn left.
During the rainy season, the track around this section is extremely lush and beautiful! It crosses a couple of bridges over some streams, the largest of which is the Tai Shing Stream.
It’s hard to miss the sound of the gushing stream, especially after the rains. To get close to the stream, cross the bridge over it, and walk till you reach the large, open picnic area.
From here you can walk down towards Tai Shing Stream. There’s also a toilet and water fountain in the vicinity.
Of course, during the dry season expect a trickle compared to the pictures above.
This large picnic area was once the paddy fields of the Cheung Uk Tsuen village. It was one of the eight villages that were evacuated when the reservoir began construction in 1928.
To the Paperbark Tree Grove
From the large picnic area, the Reservoir Walk remains flat as it continues along its final leg.
After approximately 600-metres, keep an eye out for a path on the left. Walk down this path and you’ll find yourself at the banks of the reservoir, surrounded by paperbark trees.
Depending on the water levels, you can stand amidst this grove of paperbark trees and admire them from close.
Please remember, there may be many macaques in this area. Just stay calm and walk past them. They’re used to human company.
Pass the Paperbark Tree Corridor
As you exit the Paperbark Tree Grove and continue on the Reservoir Walk, you’ll be immediately struck by the beauty of the Paperbark Tree Corridor. This short path, with strikingly tall paperbark trees, feels delightfully majestic.
After the Paperbark Tree Corridor, the Reservoir Walk approaches a gentle incline, with views of the reservoir on the left. And at the end of the incline, is the entrance to the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail.
Pineapple Dam Nature Trail
Not to be confused with Pineapple Mountain, the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail is an 890-metre-long trail that runs along the western banks of the Shing Mun Reservoir. The dam, which is at the end of the trail, is so named because there were once many pineapple fields in this area.
As you exit the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk, the steps take you down onto Pineapple Dam Nature Trail. If you’re visiting the trail after the rains, you may find a couple of streams at the end of the steps.
Unlike the paved track of the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk, the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail is what the name implies, a dirt trail.
The trail runs alongside the reservoir, with a couple of picnic spots along the way. Needless to say, these picnic spots offer stunning views of the reservoir and surrounding hills.
Towards the end of the Pineapple Dam Nature Trail, is a butterfly garden. I haven’t been inside the garden, so cannot vouch for it. But let us know your experience if you’ve ever visited it.
And just after the butterfly garden is the Shing Mun Country Park Visitor Centre. And beyond that is the bus stop for GMB 82 to Tsuen Wan.
And with that, you’ve completed the walk around the Shing Mun Reservoir!
Shing Mun Reservoir and Pineapple Dam
We hope you enjoyed our detailed guide to the Shing Mun Reservoir Walk and Pineapple Dam Nature Trail. I think that this is one of the most scenic reservoir walks in Hong Kong! But the Lau Shui Heung Reservoir is the most scenic in Hong Kong, especially during the winter with the surrounding autumn foliage.
The walks around Tai Tam Reservoir come close, and the hike to the Thousand Islands Reservoir is also unique. And the Kowloon Reservoir Hike is equally secluded and relaxed.
And the next time you plan to return to Shing Mun Reservoir, be sure to visit the Shing Mun Reservoir War Relics Trail, hike up to Needle Hill or complete the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir Hike.
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Another very useful and comprehensive guide. Just finished this walk with our dog and loved it. Crucial tip was to do it in reverse – we were pretty much alone whilst there were big crowds coming the other way.