6th February 2021 – (Hong Kong) Ngau Ngak Shan (The Hunch Backs) and Wan Kuk Shan are both located at Ma On Shan. The entire 13.6km journey from Sai Shai Road to the top of Ngau Ngak Shan before returning via Ma Mei Back takes around 7 hours to complete. Make sure you start early and bring lots of water and food. This trail is one of the most difficult hikes in Hong Kong as it covers very treacherous terrain but hikers will be compensated with breathtaking views. At the end of the hike, you will lose at least 1.5kg to 2kg. It’s actually a very efficient way to lose weight while enjoying scenic views at the same time.
The Hunch Backs or Ngau Ngak Shan is the twelfth-highest mountain in Hong Kong. Peaked at 677 metres (2,221 ft), it is at the north of Ma On Shan. The terrain is popular with hikers as the views from the area are beautiful, as the dip between the two peaks – the saddle on the horse back mountain – allows views across both sides of the range to Sai Kung and east New Territories. However, it is classified as a difficult hike as it is quite high with steep cliffs on both sides and you need to use both hands to climb.
On the other hand, Tiu Shau Ngam is located in Ma On Shan, Sai Kung, at an altitude of 588 metres. It is a mountain range connecting westward to Ngau Ngak Shan. Tiu Shau Ngam is also connected to Ngau Ngak Shan at Ma On Shan. Towards the West direction, you can reach Ma On Shan Family Trail before reaching the barbecue site. The hiking area around Tiu Shau Ngam in Ma On Shan has been listed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) as one of the high-risk locations where fatal and serious accidents have occurred. This route is only recommended for experienced hikers and it is a popular spot for rock climbers.
The beginning of MacLehose Trail Stage 4 is still under the shade of trees most of the time, and it is not that hot to walk in summer. When you climb to about 350 metres high, there will be no shades to protect you from sunburn. Hence, sunscreen is recommended to prevent hikers from getting sunburn. Hikers should also wear gloves.
From the top of the mountain, you can see Ma On Shan northwards. Go ahead and keep left, then pay attention to the small fork on the left of the trail, turn up to reach the top of Ngau Ngak Shan. Although the trail to the top is not long and the path is obvious, it is recommended to wear long pants. After climbing to the top, the terrain is slightly flat, and you can see Pyramid Hill and the winding trail in front of the other end of the mountain including Tiu Shau Ngam. The scenery is breathtaking.
From the top of Ngau Ngak Shan, you can continue westwards towards Tiu Shau Ngam, southwards towards Ma On Shan or North towards Ma Mei Back. Instead, we have chosen the more gruelling Ma Mei Back to return.
Descend downhill from Ngau Ngak Shan before going up another hilltop and climb down towards Ma Mei Back. Ma Mei Back is very steep and hikers should follow the ribbons on the trees and keep descending downwards towards the highway. The returning journey is actually the most difficult part of the hike if you want to take this trail. Use the trees on both sides as support since there are many rocks and loose pebbles along the trail. Ropes can be found to assist hikers to descend.
If you want an easier hike, you can actually divert to Wan Kuk Shan which is located to the south of Ma On Shan once you are on top of the fourth section of MacLehose Trail. Many hikers just go around the Ngau Ngak Shan without reaching the top and head towards the flatter Wan Kuk Shan. Although the way to the summit is not obvious, the road overlooking the fourth section of MacLehose Trail after the summit is winding and magnificent. For Wan Kuk Shan, the whole journey is about 8 kilometres but it has a lot of slopes and is about 550 metres high. It is a hiking route suitable for the cool autumn season as there are not many shades along the trail.
If you feel exhausted after hiking Wan Kuk Shan, you should then continue on Ma On Shan Country Trail to return. You will be able to return by taking bus no. NR84 to MTR Ma On Shan Station or walk along the Ma On Shan Tsuen Road to Yiu On Estate or Heng On Estate bus stop.
Get off near BBQ Area Site 5 Sai Sha Road and cross the road and you will see the entrance to the Maclehose Trail (Stage 4).
Transport: Take bus no. 99 or 299X, get off at Shui Long Wo and walk towards BBQ Area Site 5 Sai Sha Road
Upon return, you will reach Lee On Estate. You can either walk towards MTR Wu Kai Sha Station or MTR Ma On Shan Station.
Total distance : 13.6 km
Total time : 7 hours
Difficulty : 9/10