Wanderlust Hiking Guide: Easy hike to Checkerboard Hill in Lok Fu


16th February 2022 – (Hong Kong) Under the severe COVID-19 epidemic in Hong Kong, hiking is probably the best outdoor activity one can experience now. If you only have 1-2 hours in the afternoon to spare, you can consider going to Checkerboard Hill, a tiny hill located in the northern part of the Kowloon peninsula in Hong Kong. Standing at 98 metres (322 ft) tall, Checkerboard Hill is located next to Kowloon Tsai Park and the Lok Fu Service Reservoir Rest Garden of Lok Fu Park, and it is not far from Lion Rock Country Park.

The hill’s name dates back to the time when airline pilots had to navigate towards this hill in order to land on Runway 13 of the now-closed Kai Tak Airport. Pilots would set their onboard navigation systems to fly the Instrument Guidance System (IGS) path straight towards a large red and white checkerboard on the side of the hill, then once the checkerboard pattern was sighted and identified, they would make a low-altitude right-hand turn to align visually with Runway 13.

Kai Tak Airport was demanding for pilots, and it required special training, since the approach to runway 13 could not be flown entirely by instrument, but required instead to aim towards a fixed obstacle, and then break away visually to land on its right.

Following the decommissioning of Kai Tak and the opening of Chek Lap Kok International Airport, the hill and the checkerboard remained abandoned, wherein the latter became faded overgrown with new trees. The checkerboard was not restored probably because it may confuse pilots landing at Chek Lap Kok, since the Kai Tak Runway 13 approach also involved flying over Lantau Island.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, between the years 2020 and 2021, the checkerboard was repainted on both west and south sides back to their original colours and overgrown trees were removed. Both the restored Checkerboard Hill and Kai Tak Runway Park now act as a monument to Kai Tak Airport.

Total distance : Around 1km

Total time : 1 hour

Difficulty : 1/10

Direction: Take MTR to Lok Fu Station and go to Exit B. Use Google map to locate Bishop Walsh Primary School on Junction Road before walking up the opposite stairs. When you reach the reservoir park, turn right and walk towards a public toilet. There is a staircase heading downwards on the left of the road opposite the toilet. Descend on the stairs and follow the trail to reach Checkerboard Hill. The entire walk takes not more than 30 minutes. U need to climb over the gate to access the checkerboard area.

Bishop Walsh Primary School
Take this stairs opposite the school.
When you see the ancient reservoir, turn right and walk towards the public toilet.
Walk along this road.
Public toilet.
Take the stairs downhill opposite the public toilet.
Continue along the trail
You will see the football pitch on your left.
Follow the sign on the tree directing hikers to Checkerboard Hill.