Wong Nai Chung Gap is located between the north and south sides of Hong Kong Island, and Mount Nicholson and Jardine’s Lookout. Not only is it the meeting point of five roads, but also numerous hiking trails, from Jardine’s Lookout and Mount Nicholson to Violet Hill and Twin Peaks.
But Wong Nai Chung Gap, literally “The gorge that yellow mud is gushing out of”, has a great historical significance from World War II. The Battle of Wong Nai Chung Gap was the largest sustainment of casualties in a single day, on both sides, during the battle of Hong Kong. And the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail takes you on a tour of that momentous day.
Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail
Inaugurated in December 2005, the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail is Hong Kong’s first battlefield trail. The trail was inaugurated on the occasion of a Canadian delegation visiting Hong Kong, which consisted of World War II veterans who had fought in Hong Kong themselves.
The 3 km trail, between Parkview and Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, traces the battle for Wong Nai Chung Gap on 19th December 1941. The trail consists of 10 stations that mark key moments from the day, along with ruins such as ammunition magazines, anti-aircraft gun platforms, bunkers and pillboxes. I even came across a hidden Japanese wartime cave that is not marked on the map.
Station 1 of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail is located opposite Parkview, next to the entrance for Wilson Trail to Jardine’s Lookout. Although it makes sense to start from here, we decided to do the trail in reverse. Feel free to follow our directions in whichever order you prefer.
So, we started the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail at Station 10 which is located opposite the Hong Kong Tennis Centre on Wong Nai Chung Road. You can take buses 6, 41A, 63, 66, 76, or the green minibus 5 to arrive at the Hong Kong Tennis Centre.
Stations 9 & 10
Once you arrive at the bus stop, look for the small clearing on the opposite side of the road from the Tennis Centre. Be careful as you cross the road to reach Station 10.
The sign at Station 10 recounts the final stages of the battle leading up to the surrender to the Japanese forces. Next to the sign is a brigade shelter.
Station 9 is located slightly ahead, on the same side of the road, just after the Esso petrol station. The plaque and signage are visible just as the petrol station ends.
Station 9 is the site for the West Brigade Headquarters. The site originally consisted of 4 bunkers, 3 of which can be seen today as one was destroyed to make way for the petrol station. In fact, the whole complex was hidden underground till it was excavated in 2005.
The command bunker, known as “Lawson’s Bunker”, was named after Brigadier John Lawson, the senior Canadian officer who was killed defending this position. The plaque at Station 9 is dedicated to him and all the members of Brigade Headquarters Canadian “C” Force.
To Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk
The next station on Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail is located on the Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk. The tree walk is a peaceful 2 km walk between Wong Nai Chung Gap Road and Mount Butler Road.
To reach the Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk, cross the road from the Esso petrol station, turn right and walk towards the Sinopec petrol station. Walk up the steps at the end of the petrol station. At the end of the flight of steps, turn left onto the path.
Walk on this path, which after it crosses Park Place, becomes the Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk.
The tree walk is a lush, meandering path that runs above the valley. Simply follow it till you arrive at a clearing with a shaded sitting area.
The sign at Station 8, Sir Cecil’s Ride, relives the fighting along the path and the valley below. Keep in mind that back then the valley below was much deeper. Today, most of the valley has been filled and the Hong Kong Cricket Club and Tennis Centre sit on top of it.
In fact, if there’s a game on, you can watch a bit of cricket while admiring Mount Nicholson in the background.
To Tai Tam Country Trail
Continue on Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk after you’re done admiring Station 8. The next section of the trail is flat, shaded, and quite lush.
After a couple of minutes of walking, you’ll come across what seems like an old shaded, seating area. I couldn’t find any information on it, or if it was a structure from wartime. It does look a bit dilapidated, unfortunately.
Continue walking on the Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk for another couple of minutes till you arrive at the crossing with Tai Tam Country Trail.
If you go straight you’ll continue on Wong Nai Chung Tree Walk to Mount Butler Road. However, to reach the next stations, turn right and go up the steps.
To Jardine’s Lookout Fresh Water Service Reservoir
The next section of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail consists of steps to the Jardine’s Lookout Fresh Water Service Reservoir.
The steps are relatively easy to climb but may seem difficult because the rest of the trail is so easy. But be sure to occasionally look behind. The higher you climb, the better the views of Hong Kong’s skyline become.
Continue climbing the steps till you finally emerge onto what appears to be a large, flat field. This is in fact the top of the covered Jardine’s Lookout Fresh Water Service Reservoir.
Stations 6 & 7
The signs for Stations 6 and 7 are located on either side of the field.
Station 7 reimagines what the battle would have looked like from this vantage point, as it overlooks Wan Chai, Causeway, and Happy Valley.
Station 6 looks straight towards Mount Nicholson and describes the attack on the valley and the eventual capture of the Police Station in the valley by the Japanese forces.
Of course, much of the topography of the land and valley has since changed. So, what was once a vantage point to observe the fall of Wong Nai Chung Gap is now a great spot to see the skyline and Mount Nicholson.
Up more steps
The Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail continues on the steps beside Station 6. The steps unfortunately are the toughest part of this trail. Luckily, there’s a picturesque pavilion on the way if you want to take a break.
At the end of the steps is the next Station, but it’s not 5, it’s 4.
Station 4 is Pillbox JLO2 (Jardine’s Lookout No.2). It resembles many of the pillboxes that you can find all over Hong Kong Island, like the one we came across on Lady Clementi’s Ride.
JL02 is made of solid reinforced concrete with openings facing the main lines of fire. Unfortunately, the open-air vents were a vulnerable point of attack that the Japanese took advantage of.
To get to the next station requires a short detour. Behind the pillbox is a path that runs perpendicular to the steps that you’re on.
Walk onto the path and cross it to the steps on the other side. Climb up the steps, and at the end, you’ll find the next pillbox.
Station 5 is Pillbox JLO1 (Jardine’s Lookout No.1) and looks similar to JLO2 including the periscope/open-air vents.
This pillbox came under serious attack and the damage is still visible to the exterior. The Japanese troops swarmed the pillbox and dropped grenades down the periscope shaft until they were driven away by attacks from the Pillbox JLO2.
Don’t return to the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail just yet. There are a couple of structures and even a hidden tunnel that the trail map doesn’t show. To discover these structures, walk behind Station 5.
The hidden cave
About 50 metres behind the pillbox is an old wall with some Chinese writing on it. To the right of the wall is some sort of a dilapidated shed that isn’t marked on the trail map.
But walk around the wall to the cleared area behind it. To the right of this clearing is a trail, hidden by the bushes and thickets.
Bushwhack your way on the path for about 30 metres, and you should see the cave on the side of the hill to your right.
I couldn’t find any information on the cave, but I imagine it is similar to the Japanese war tunnels found all over Hong Kong. I didn’t enter it, so I am not 100% sure if it’s a tunnel or cave. Either way, the tunnel/cave looked to be in great condition, probably because it’s hidden from plain sight.
After admiring the tunnel, return to the path above Station 4.
Back to Tai Tam Country Trail
After descending on the steps from Station 5, turn left and continue along Tai Tam Country Trail. The trail runs alongside the catchwater basin and has the occasional view of Mount Nicholson and the south side of Hong Kong Island.
Walk on the path till you reach the sign for Station 3. This station is a lookout point for the valley below. It describes the valley’s defensive force and illustrates key landmarks such as the site of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Police Station, West Brigade Headquarters, among others.
After Station 3, continue down the path as it twists and turns and finally reaches a flight of steps. Climb the steps and walk down the paved road.
Just before the main road, there’s an ammunition magazine structure that supplied the ammunition for the two anti-aircraft guns at Station 2.
Station 2 is actually just above this ammunition magazine. Walk to the end of the structure, and take the steps that go up the mound.
This is the location of the two mobile 3.7-inch anti-aircraft guns that were mounted here to defend the valley from enemy aircraft attempting to bomb the Central District.
The ruined structures are of the “Expense Store” that held shells for immediate use by the guns.
To get to Station 1, walk towards the main Tai Tam Reservoir Road that’s right behind you.
Yes, this is technically the start of the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail as the sign describes the events of the Battle of Hong Kong during WWII. The sign relives the events from the fall of Shing Mun Redoubt and the Gin Drinkers Line that brought the war to Hong Kong Island.
Before you end Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail, don’t forget to check out the bunker hidden behind the car park.
Relive the Battle Of Wong Nai Chung Gap
We hope you found this post interesting and educational. The Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail is not just a simple hike, but a battlefield trail that walks down memory lane.
It’s amazing that we have such incredible relics from WWII all over this wonderful city! And the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail is a marvellous self-guided tour that takes you on a journey to relive one of the most historic days from Hong Kong’s past. Make sure you visit the Shing Mun War Relics Trail and explore the remains of the Gin Drinker’s Line and the Shing Mun Redoubt for yourself.
Of course, there are plenty more wartime relics that you can explore all across Hong Kong.
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thanks for sharing the detailed hike to Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail. How would you rate the difficulty of this hike, and what’s the reason starting from the end point of the trail? i sit it’s easier?