The hike to Tate’s Cairn or Tai Lo Shan (大老山 in Chinese which translates to “Big Brother Mountain”) is, without doubt, one of the most scenic urban hikes in Hong Kong. With access to multiple viewing platforms overlooking Kowloon, Shatin, and Clearwater Bay, there is no dearth of stunning, panoramic views on this hike.
Tate’s Cairn is easily recognizable from a distance thanks to the Observatory’s meteorological station situated on its peak.
And in case you were wondering, it is possible to drive up to Tate’s Cairn via Fei Ngo Shan Road and back down via Jat’s Incline. But to be honest, that takes away the satisfaction of earning the views via the Tate’s Cairn Hike.
About the Tate’s Cairn Hike, Hong Kong
The Tate’s Cairn Hike has three very distinct sections. The climb is relatively challenging with a mix of steps and inclines. However, thanks to the meteorological station at Tate’s Cairn peak, the area around the hill is relatively urbanised. Which makes the mid-section of the hike an easy walk on the top of the hill.
And finally, the descent is a mix of paved roads, steps, and dirt trails. Overall, Tate’s Cairn is a scenic hike close to the city.
There are a couple of hiking routes to Tate’s Cairn but the one we recommend starts from the back of Tsz Ching Estate in Tsz Shan Wan.
There are numerous buses that stop at Tsz Ching Estate and depending on your location, you might need to map your route here. Unfortunately, the closest MTR station is Diamond Hill, and it’s a very long walk.
Once you arrive at Tsz Ching Estate on Tsz Wan Shan Road, enter the estate on Ching Fai Street. Walk past the roundabout and climb up the steps to the housing estate. At the end of the steps look for the playground on the right. Walk past the playground to the ramp at the back of the estate.
Walk up the ramp and head straight towards the steps on the side of the hill. This is the starting point for Tate’s Cairn Hike.
To Tiu Tso Ngam
The next section of the hike is a mix of gradual inclines and steep steps. And unfortunately, it is the toughest section of this hike. I believe this trail to Tiu Tso Ngam is called “慈觀古道”, and I don’t think there is an English name for it.
To start the hike, climb up the steps, walk ahead for a couple of metres, and turn right towards the little bridge.
Walk down this path and up the next flight of steps. On top of the steps, turn left and walk along the catchwater basin.
At this point, hop onto the path on the left that runs along the catchwater basin. And once on this path, simply follow it as it transitions from a paved path to a dirt trail, and then finally steps, before ending at a three-point intersection.
At this intersection, turn left and prepare for the real climb! Because the next 750 metres consists of a mix of steep steps and inclines. Our advice, as always, is to climb at a comfortable pace.
The good news here is that the initial section of the climb is steep and it becomes less intense the higher you reach.
And although this section is shaded, it feels neverending. As you get closer to the top, the first glimpses of Kowloon appear. But the best view at this point is that of Shatin Pass Road, where this section of the climb ends.
Shatin Pass Road
Shatin Pass Road is one of the five roads that intersect near Tiu Tso Ngam.
From this point onwards, the hike continues on a paved road, at a gentle incline. Unfortunately, Shatin Pass Road is a motorable road, shared with vehicles.
The initial section of the road is shaded, but as it turns the first corner, the trees make way for the views of the city below.
But don’t stop here to admire the views because just up ahead is the first viewpoint on this hike.
Jat’s Incline Viewing Point
If it wasn’t for the popularity of The Peak, Jat’s Incline Viewing Point could potentially be the most iconic viewing platform in Hong Kong.
Perched high up in the eastern corner of the Kowloon Peninsula, Jat’s Incline Viewing Point offers stunning views of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and beyond. The viewing point is also accessible by car via Fei Ngo Shan Road. It has limited parking spots and a pavilion with seating.
The easy access makes it a popular viewing point, especially for those seeking a scenic drive in Hong Kong.
Jat’s Incline Viewing Point sits at the junction of Shatin Pass Road, Fei Ngo Shan Road, and Jat’s Incline. To continue towards Tate’s Cairn, turn left on Fei Ngo Shan Road. And remember to watch out for oncoming cars.
Fei Ngo Shan Road
The walk from Jat’s Incline Viewing Point to the top of Tate’s Cairn on Fei Ngo Shan Road is quite scenic in my opinion. The road continues uphill at a gentle incline.
About 300 metres ahead, the road turns left and reveals the Tate’s Cairn Meteorological Station.
Now to get to the Tate’s Cairn Meteorological Station, you can either carry on walking on Fei Ngo Shan Road and take the left turn ahead or take a shortcut that cuts the distance by 80%!
Shortcut to Tate’s Cairn Meteorological Station
Continue walking on Fei Ngo Shan Road till you’re directly below the meteorological station. At this point, the road momentarily widens to two lanes. At the start of the widening, look for a concealed path that cuts through the trees on the left.
Walk up the trail and it should bring you out right next to the meteorological station. This shortcut cuts the distance to Tate’s Cairn Meteorological Station from roughly 300 metres to 55 metres! You’re welcome!
At 577 metres, Tate’s Cairn offers fabulous views of Kowloon and Hong Kong below and a glimpse of Shatin and Ma On Shan at the back.
Up here, you can also admire the massive meteorological station that (to me) resembles a giant volleyball. But of course, the general public is not allowed to enter the Observatory’s station.
You can walk around the meteorological station to search for spots that offer amazing views.
Although the views from on top of Tate’s Cairn are quite incredible, if you’re looking for the spot with the best views, it’s just around the corner.
The best views from Tate’s Cairn
To get the best views from Tate’s Cairn, walk back towards Fei Ngo Shan Road from the meteorological station. This time, take the road and not the shortcut.
As the road from the meteorological station merges with Fei Ngo Shan Road, you’ll notice two mounds ahead. Climb either or both of the mounds to get the best views from the Tate’s Cairn Hike!
From on top of the mound, you can see three different sides of Hong Kong – Kowloon and Hong Kong straight ahead, Hebe Haven (Pak Sha Wan) and Clearwater Bay at the back, and Ma On Shan and Shatin on the right.
You can also see the neighbouring hills in Ma On Shan Country Park, with Tung Yueng Shan and Buffalo Hill right in front.
We took our time to admire the views from up here. But just remember, if it’s a sunny day it can get very toasty on the mounds because there is no shade.
Feel free to explore the views from these mounds and once you’re done, return to Fei Ngo Shan Road below.
To Kowloon Peak Viewing Point
The next section, as short as it is, is perhaps the most scenic part of Fei Ngo Shan Road.
Return to Fei Ngo Shan Road from the mounds and continue walking away from Tate’s Cairn Meteorological Station. As you walk on the road here, notice that there is absolutely nothing to obstruct your views of Hong Kong below!
And these are the same views from the Kowloon Peak Viewing Point that’s just up ahead.
Kowloon Peak Viewing Point
Just like Jat’s Incline Viewing Point, there are usually cars parked at the Kowloon Peak Viewing Point too. Both viewing points are accessible by car and if there were any shops or malls here, they would be as popular as The Peak on Hong Kong Island.
But before we continue on the last leg of the hike, it’s worth noting that there is a second Kowloon Peak Viewing Point. Locate the steps next to the pavilion with a marked entrance.
Walk up the steps and prepare to be wowed again by the stunning views of Clearwater Way and Pak Sha Wan below! There are even two benches for you to sit and enjoy the views from up here.
Take the shortcut back to Jat’s Incline
Once you’re done admiring the views from both platforms at the Kowloon Peak Viewing Point, look for the path to the toilet, next to the pavilion.
Walk down for about 50 metres till you reach a fork in the path. The trail on the left continues to Kowloon Peak. But to descend, turn right for the shortcut that connects to Jat’s Incline.
As with many shortcuts, it’s not a maintained trail. So walk down carefully as it’s quite steep and rocky.
But you probably won’t even pay attention to the rocky descent when you see the views of Hong Kong in front!
Needless to say, I loved the scenery while descending on this shortcut that I even forgot about the sun beating down on me. Add to that, the silver grass that grows all over Tate’s Cairn during the cooler months really enhances the beauty of this hike!
Once the shortcut leaves the open views and enters the shaded area, there are a few sections that are very steep. Thankfully, hikers have left ropes here to help navigate the trail.
Once in the shade, the trail ends soon and connects with Jat’s Incline. Simply follow the steps around the catchwater drain to return to the road.
Jat’s Incline to the Pavilion
I must admit, the next section of the hike is fairly uneventful. It’s essentially a walk downhill on Jat’s Incline.
Thankfully, it’s shaded which makes it a pleasant walk. But this is a motorable road. So, walk on the side and beware of cars coming downhill from behind.
Jat’s Incline twists and turns as it heads down, and at times feels neverending! So, when you see the pavilion on the side of the road, take a break because at this point you need to decide how to end Tate’s Cairn Hike.
End the hike
From this pavilion, you have a couple of options to choose from to end the hike.
- Continue walking downhill on Jat’s Incline for another 1 km to Clearwater Bay Road, or
- Take the steps from next to the pavilion towards Hammer Hill, from where you can decide to end at Fung Shing Street or Ping Ting Road.
We decided to walk down the steps, as the exit options from here are much shorter.
After walking down the steps for about 400 metres, there is another pavilion where you need to pick your exit route.
The steps on the right exit at Fung Shing Street, next to Hilltop Gardens (about 150 metres).
The steps on the left also exit at Fung Shing Street, but next to Ngau Chi Wan Park (about 100 metres).
And if you take the path straight ahead, that exits at Ping Ting Road next to the East Kowloon Polyclinic (about 600 metres).
We decided to turn right and end at our Tate’s Cairn Hike next to Hilltop Gardens.
Tate’s Cairn Hike Guide
We hope you enjoyed our very detailed guide to hiking up Tate’s Cairn. I know that the ascent and descent are perhaps the only parts that feel like a hike. And that it’s possible to reach the most scenic parts of this hike by car or taxi. But honestly, I think it’s worth earning the views from Tate’s Cairn!
Having said that, taking a taxi from Kowloon Peak Viewing Point to end the hike is also an option.
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