Just how dangerous are Hong Kong’s beloved hiking trails?
Spots like “suicide cliff” and “dog teeth range” have proven their ominous names well warranted, with recent fatal accidents prompting warnings that inexperienced climbers should beware.
But a new list by the government of 16 accident “black spots” people should avoid has us scratching our heads at the sheer volume of places deemed unsafe.
The list — which includes several popular hiking spots — was announced by Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing in response to a question raised by Legislative Councillor Kenneth Lau about whether or not the government has compiled any statistics on accident black spots in hiking areas.
The list of black spots — called “high risk locations” by the government — where accidents and fatalities have occurred was compiled with the help of the Civil Aid Service, and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
The list included the Kau Nga Ling — also known as “dog teeth range” — that claimed the life of a 69-year old man in late-November; and “suicide cliff” at Kowloon Peak, also known as Fei Ngo Shan where a 48-year-old woman fell after losing her footing.
Other spots on the list include Bride’s Pool Waterfall in Plover Cove, Sharp Peak in Sai Kung East, and Lion Rock Peak on Lion Rock.
Its unclear whether the government took any other factors aside from previous accidents into account when assessing the locations’ danger.
Coconuts HK has reached out to the government to clarify whether its suggestion that the areas be avoided applies to all people or just inexperienced hikers.
The Environment Secretary said in his response that there are 80 hiking trails in Hong Kong — with a total length of about 500 kilometers — that are managed and maintained by the AFCD within country parks and special areas.
However, there are a number of other trails that are not under the AFCD’s management that the government does not keep information on, and hikers have been advised not to explore new routes on their own or hike on un-maintained paths.
Notable country park black spots include:
Lion Rock Peak
Famous because it vaguely resembles a crouching lion, and also a symbol of Hongkongers’ “can do attitude” aka the “Lion Rock spirit,” Lion Rock is an iconic spot for hikers and non hikers alike. People have hung political banners on it, and it even has its own song called Below the Lion Rock. The location is well known for offering one of the best views of Kowloon but can be dangerous, as seen in 2016 when a man fell to his death while trying to take a selfie.
Sharp Peak, Sai Kung East
Also known as Nam She Tsim, Sharp Peak is known for its well-defined peak and steep trail, and is known for being one of the most difficult trails to climb. In November 2016, a 60-year-old man collapsed and died while navigating this trail, EJ insight reported.
Quadruplex Pool, Sai Kung East
A popular spot for hikers navigating part of the challenging MacLehose trail to take a breather, Quadruplex Pool is also a popular spot for diving and swimming.
Yin Tsz Ngam, Sai Kung East
Yin Tsz Ngam literally translates to “swallow cave” in Chinese, and is home to a number of sea caves where swallows and bats build their nests. The location is also a popular diving spot. In January 2015, a 45-year-old female hiker died after she fell into the sea while climbing rocks along the coast, the SCMP reports.
Bride’s Pool Waterfall, Plover Cove Country Park
Legend has it that a bride who was on her way to see her groom in stormy weather fell into the pool and drowned after one of the four porters carrying the sedan she was sitting on slipped. Legends aside, the area’s 15-meter high water fall makes it a popular destination for day trippers during summer.
Kau Nga Ling, Lantau South
Famously known as “dog teeth range” because of its thin and rugged mountain ridge, this hiking trail’s bite is definitely worse than its bark. The trail claimed the life of a 69-year old man who slipped in late-November.
Shui Lo Cho, Lantau South
Home to Lantau’s “infinity pools”, Shui Lo Cho is a popular hiking destination and gathering ground for fresh water. However entering them is illegal because of the risk of pollution to the fresh water supply. In 2015, five hikers were fined HK$1,000 each for taking an illegal dip in the pool, the SCMP reports.
Wong Lung Stream, Lantau North
This spot is located on the Wong Lung Hang county trail and said to be one of Hong Kong’s most challenging hikes, but worth it for the beautiful waterfall at the end.
‘Suicide cliff’ at Kowloon Peak, Ma On Shan
This ominously named cliff is a favourite for Instagrammers, but hikers who want to scale this cliff have been warned to be prepared and fully-equipped. The sheer drop claimed the life of a hiker who lost her footing in November.
The full list of country park black spots:
- Tai Shing Stream, Shing Mun
- Lion Rock Peak, Lion Rock
- Sharp Peak, Sai Kung East
- Quadruplex Pool, Sai Kung East
- Yin Tsz Ngam, Sai Kung East
- Bride’s Pool Waterfall, Plover Cove
- Kau Nga Ling, Lantau South
- Shui Lo Cho, Lantau South
- Wong Lung Stream, Lantau North
- Nei San Stream (near Nei Lak Shan Country Trail), Lantau North
- Hsien Ku Fung, Pat Sin Leng
- Ping Nam Stream, Pat Sin Leng
- Tai Shek Stream, Tai Mo Shan
- Tiu Shau Ngam, Ma On Shan
- ‘Suicide Cliff’ at Kowloon Peak, Ma On Shan
- Nei San Stream (also known as Mo Tin Ngai), Lantau North (Extension)