Some hiking sites describe Pineapple Mountain as an “easy” hike to see Hong Kong’s “mini Grand Canyon.” And sure, you can call it easy. If by easy you mean walking straight up a steep hill for a few kilometres, gingerly stepping across the gravelly terrain at the top, and making sure your knees don’t crack as you descend, all while trying to take in the gorgeous landscape and views.

Unique rock formations at Pineapple Mountain Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

But if that is not your idea of easy, let’s agree to call this a moderate hike. Do not be fooled by the senior citizens who smile as they watch you pass because, according to the ones we met along the way, they do the hike every morning and they are tough as nails.

City views from the Po Lo Shan hike Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

The hike starts out relatively shaded, but you will spend a lot of the time in the sun, so wear a hat, take plenty of water and wear sunscreen. There is a reason people advise attempting this in late autumn or winter, when the cooler temperatures make the trek much more bearable. The weather in those months also means you should be able to see Shenzhen, Castle Peak and more in the distance, which make for incredible snapshots.

Even during the week this is a popular hike, so if you prefer a less crowded experience, go midweek – you will be thankful you made that choice.

Getting to Pineapple Mountain

The best way to get to Pineapple Mountain is by MTR and light rail.

Take the Tuen Ma line and alight at Siu Hong, then follow the light rail signs and take route 505 to Leung King. (Tap your Octopus card on the orange platform terminal before you get on and on the green platform terminal when you hop off. If you do not, you could get charged a hefty fine if a conductor boards the train to check fares.)

At Leung King, cross the tracks in the direction of the shopping centre. Head towards the main road, which is on the left, and through the apartment complex and park areas. If you get lost, almost anyone who sees you in hiking gear will point you in the right direction (even if they don’t speak English), because they know the main reason tourists and hikers are visiting.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

The trailhead is not marked but it is near the main road. Look for a road that goes uphill and has rails on either side of it. When we were there, there was a solar panel over a lamp post near it, which helped us find it. Be prepared to walk up for a while. If you are an avid hiker, this should be “easy,” but if you are not used to hiking, it will be slow-going.

Approaching the militarised zone Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

A little further up the path is a temple with various Buddha statues, indicating that you are on the right track. Depending on the time of year, you might see trees in blossom, which should distract you from your heavy breathing. Keep going along the paved road to the top, where the terrain will become dirt. You can see Tuen Muen in the distance and there will be a few shaded spots to rest if you need a break.

The “Grand Canyon” of Hong Kong Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

Ahead of you will be two paths. The one to the right offers some nice views but is a challenging climb on uneven terrain. The one to the left is another steep, paved road – take this one to reach Por Lo Shan, as Pineapple Mountain is known in Cantonese. Follow the road up and around, then across a narrow pathway to the “grand canyon.”

(Note: don’t get too excited about the canyon. Yes, it is pretty spectacular and awesome to see up close – just not too close because the ground beneath is loose, and full of gravel and slippery rocks – but “grand?” Hardly.)

Ascent of Pineapple Mountain Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

Once you see the sign that that reads “no trespassing,” which is largely ignored, you are close to the canyon. Follow the trail ahead to the right, from which you will see Shenzhen and small villages on one side, and stunning mountain views on the other. Besides the unique landscape, the views are what make this trek worth doing.

Sunset at Pineapple Mountain overlooking a landfill. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

There are two ways to get down. If you are concerned about timing, turn around and go back the way you came. But if you are up for an adventure and do not feel like doing the massively steep descent, go straight past the canyon and follow the road down to the village below (some hiking sites say to avoid doing this on weekends as it gets very busy, although it was fine on the weekday we went).

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

This walk is about another 45 minutes to an hour, but most of it is shaded and quiet, which is a terrific end to the trek. At the bottom you will come to a paved road. Turn right and continue along it until it forks, where you will see a sign pointing left towards a “fortified structure monument,” or right, which is a two-hour walk to Lau Fau Shan.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP

We turned left and walked toward Ha Pak Nai village (Google Maps has it written as Ha Pak Lai village).  Continued straight until you find the bus stop for the number 33 minibus, which will take you to Tin Shui Wai MTR station. (You could also try hailing a minibus and asking “dai tsit tsam,” which means “MTR station” in Cantonese, because they do not come very often and if you see one you should grab it.)

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Roxanne Dowell

Roxanne Dowell earned a master’s degree in print journalism from Boston University and has been a writer, editor and content creator for more than 20 years. She moved to Hong Kong in 2016 and has been published in various local and international publications and websites.