The second longest of the long trails in Hong Kong, and one of the most technically challenging, is the Wilson Trail, which spans from the south of Hong Kong island in Stanley to the North, ending in Nam Chung.
This is not for the faint-hearted as this trail includes multiple climbs, including the infamous Twin Peaks, a cross-harbour trip, the Eight Immortals of Pat Sin Leng, with very little shade, and a trek into monkey territory from Sections 5 to 8, with very few designated camping spots.
Lucky for you, we’ve broken down our recommended Hike Plan below to make it a bit more manageable! Throw in the Trail Challenger to challenge you and your friends for an even more rewarding experience, and earn yourself a medal after.
Elevation Gain: 4043m Difficulty: 4/5
Recommended Hike Plan
This ten part trail crosses eight country parks with very few entry and exit points, which is why we recommend breaking this up into 7 to 8 hours of hiking across five days. Although significantly shorter than the MacLehose trail, as mentioned above, this is one of the more technical and challenging hikes as it involves multiple climbs on occasionally larger and uneven rocks.
Day 1 - 11.4km (7 hours)
Stage 1 - 4.8km (3 hours)
Stanley - Hong Kong Parkview
Markers W001 - W008
We’re kicking off day one at Stanley with the section 1, also known as the Twin Peaks and Violet Hill trail. The daunting and unrelenting steps of the Twins can be taxing, but you can take comfort in the fact that this is the shortest section of the Wilson trail. As you follow the peaks and troughs of these two hills, you are rewarded with beautiful views of the Hong Kong countryside. But be warned, stage 1 and 2 have very little shade so avoid tackling these sections on a hot day, and come stocked with plenty of water and sun protection.
Stage 2 - 6.6km (4 hours)
Hong Kong Parkview - Quarry Bay
If you have done the Hong Kong trail, you will recognise this stage as it crosses over and joins section 5 for a portion of this walk.
About less than halfway in, however, be sure to keep a lookout for sign posts as the Wilson trail splits off to the left towards Quarry Bay, whilst the Hong Kong trail continues straight on, towards Mount Parker.
At Quarry Bay, you will have no problems finding restaurants and transportation, hereby concluding day one of our recommended hike plan.
Day 2 - 17.3km (8 hours)
Stage 3 - 9.3km (3.5 hours)
Lam Tin - Tseng Lan Shue
Markers W018 -W031
Day two starts off with a trip across the harbour, and involves a steep climb around the back of Devil’s Peak. Although considered an interim trail between stage 2 and 4, this is quite a popular route and you will likely meet plenty of other hikers along the way.
Although the start and end of this section involves quite a bit of walking along or next to roads, you are rewarded with 360 views of the city once you reach the top.
The last section of the trail after you have passed Ma Yau Tong village can be a little tricky to navigate as it is poorly signposted, so be sure to follow your Trail Challenger app closely.
Stage 4 - 8km (4.5 hours)
Tseng Lan Shue - Sha Tin Au
This section is quite physically demanding as it involves a few uphill climbs, in relatively little shade. The section towards Tung Yueng Shan is particularly challenging. However, once you reach the peak, you are rewarded with stunning views of the hills covered in silver grass, and the rest of the walk is little more manageable.
There are public toilets at the start, end, and about two-thirds of the trail in, if you need the facilities, with section four concluding at a small, local store where you can replenish your water or tuck into local dessert, Tofu Fa.
Day 3 - 12.7km (7 hours)
Stage 5 - 7.4km (3 hours)
Sha Tin Au - Kowloon Reservoir
Markers 4047 - W061
To kickstart day three, the hike to Kowloon reservoir is one of the more gentle sections of the Wilson trail, as you follow a catch water, along a mostly flat path through Lion Rock Country Park.
There are toilets at the start and end of this trail, but just note that you will be entering monkey territory the closer you edge towards the start of section 6, so if you’re walking with dogs, it might be a good idea to leash them the closer you get.
Stage 6 - 5.3km (4 hours)
Kowloon Reservoir - Shing Mun Reservoir
Markers W061 - W069
As soon as you pass Kowloon reservoir, there is a steep climb which eventually levels out as you head North towards Shing Mun reservoir, and trace the mountain side. There are toilets about halfway through this section when you reach Golden Hill Road.
Although not the most scenic trail, there are plenty of monkeys to spot, and you are rewarded with views of Shing Mun reservoir at the end. Another saving Grace is that most of the path has plenty of tree cover, which also means shelter from the sun!
Day 4 - 19.2km (8 hours)
Stage 7 - 10.2km (3.5 hours)
Shing Mun Reservoir - Yuen Tun Ha
This section is one of the more enjoyable parts of the Wilson trail, being one of the easier stages, taking you across the rather scenic Shing Mun reservoir, with opportunities to see the local rhesus macaques monkeys. Although one of the easier sections, this stage - also a part of the MacLehose trail - is 10.2km, and coupled with the challenge of tackling Cloudy Hill at the next section, we suggest taking this part of the trail at a leisurely pace.
Stage 8 - 9km (4.5 hours)
Yuen Tun Ha - Cloudy Hill
Markers W088 - W105
As non-threatening as Cloudy Hill sounds, the summit is a total of 2,000 steps! You might rejoice at the thought of going downhill once you’ve tackled the climb to the top, but you’ll start to feel the effects of stage 7, combined with the last few thousand steps, in your legs at this point. Lucky for you, this is the last leg of the day and you’ll wind up at near Fu Heng Estate, where you will be able to hail a taxi or catch a bus to Tai Po Market for the MTR station.
Day 5 - 17.4km (7 hours)
Stage 9 - 10.6km (3 hours)
Cloudy Hill - Pat Sin Leng
Markers W105 - W125
We’re not going to lie, this is the most challenging section of the Wilson trail as it involves following the undulating ridge of Pat Sin Leng, also know as the Eight Immortals, which is eight peaks in succession.
Before you even hit the Eight Immortals, you must tackle Wong Leng, which is the highest peak of this trail at 639 metres.
A majority of this 10.6km path is mostly exposed, so we would advise doing this on a cool day to make it more manageable.
The only redeeming quality is that you will have spectacular views all round, and the trail is well paved.
Pack plenty of snacks and water to keep you going, and take frequent breaks!
Stage 10 - 6.8km (4 hours)
Pat Sin Leng - Nam Chung
After the gruelling climb of the Eight Immortals, you will be relieved to know that a majority of this walk is downhill, and goes through a cool forest of bamboo groves and mossy streams, before you come out at the villages of Nam Chung. Walk down to Luk Keng Road, where you can reward yourself with an ice cold drink or light bites from the local store. Here you will easily be able to board a mini bus to take you to Fanling MTR station or catch a taxi.
Not only can you now relax on the journey home, but you have just earned yourself a medal and completed one of the most challenging trails in Hong Kong!