- Panoramic view of Sai Kung and Ma On Shan
- Camping at Ngong Ping (and Paragliding)
- Completely tucked away from the city
Section 4 is one of the most challenging hike of all trails. It is 12km in length and goes along the ridge of the hills, exposing hikers to all inclement weather. Despite these challenges, you will be able to immerse yourself in the very nice view of Sai Kung and Ma On Shan at Pyramid Hill.
Meanwhile, I bumped into a cow standing right in the middle of the trail, she was generous enough to give way for me to pass. It was a rather funny experience.
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Gilwell Camp – West Buffalo Hill
I started my hike from Shatin Pass, which is still within Section 5 – there’s no way you can get to Section 4 by public transport from this end. Look for Gilwell Camp as a point of reference and you will soon realise that you have arrived at Section 4.
In many parts of this hike, I was surrounded by hills covered with thick vegetation and saw no buildings. That was a pretty amazing experience for a city dweller like me. When you see the coastal line, that’s Sai Kung, along which Section 1, 2 and 3 of the Maclehose Trail will stretch.
Expect cows dung along the way! For there is a reason, other than the shape of the hills, why the area along this trail was called West Buffalo Hill (606m) or Buffalo Pass (at M089). I even encountered a cow standing right in the middle of the trail! So watch out for the “land mines/地雷 (cow dung)” a Cantonese saying for these things. Expect to see a cow or two, too.
This place is pretty famous for paragliding, you can find more information from the Hong Kong Paragliding Association. Or if you are like me, not ready to take off the ground any time soon, the viewing point from Ngong Ping (M083) is spectacular! This is also a great location for camping with mobile toilet and barbecue facilities managed by the country park. Do be aware of cow dungs that are still plenty along this area.
The real challenge starts from here, when approaching the Pyramid Hill. You will find yourself hiking on the ridge of the hills overseeing the coastal line of Sai Kung (Southern part of Hong Kong) and Ma On Shan (Northern part of Hong Kong). Sai Kung is a bay area and Ma On Shan (Tolo Harbour) is the exit of the Shing Mun River Channel.
After Pyramid Hill, at around M077, there are nearly endless stone steps descending to Kei Ling, as much as 2km or so. You will arrive at the service road and the rest of the trip will be along this path until you arrived at the very busy Sai Sha Road. You could either get buses to Sai Kung or to Shatin. I went to Sai Kung because that it was closer and there were plenty of choices for food.
Although Section 4 is 12.7km, I ended up hiking nearly 20km as I hiked from Wong Tai Sin MTR Station, get to Shatin Pass and hike to the starting point of section 4. After arriving at Sai Sha Road in Sai Kung, I carried on for a bit walking to the bus stop. So it was indeed the longest hike and the most challenging hike by far amongst all of the sections. Time is a concern as this section took me nearly six to seven hours to complete. Expect a bit of night hike or take the escape route after arriving at Ngong Ping for Sai Kung.
While it can be tough, it is the most rewarding hike thus far! With the scenery in Buffalo Pass (vegetations), Nong Ping (view of Sai Kung), Pyramid Hill (Ma On Sha, Sai Kung, connection of hills), I really no complaints at all! I do think camping here is a nice idea considering that the hike at this section can be stretched to two days and you can enjoy watching the sunrise and the sunset at Ngong Ping.
- Distance: 12.7km
- Duration: 4hours (with additional time for getting in and out)
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Elevation: 80m/555m (min/max)
- Pole No.: M093 to M069
- Getting In: From Wong Tai Sin MTR Station, take the green minibus 18M to Shatin Pass Estate. Hike until the end of Stain Pass Road (20 mins, 1.4 km), arrive at Section 5 and hike towards Section 4.
- Getting Out: At Sai Sha Road, look for bus no. 99, 99R or 299x (public holidays only) towards Sai Kung or Shatin.