If you are only going to do one hike this winter season, make it Sunset Peak. Hong Kong’s third highest mountain is possibly its most beautiful and definitely the most unique. Its ridgeline is dotted with old missionary huts from the 1900s and covered in silver grass – there’s nothing quite like it. Throw in a couple of sheep and you’ve got the Alps.
The 869-metre peak involves a total hiking time of around four hours and a distance of eight-nine kilometres, so it’s a full day expedition. Be prepared: bring plenty of water, torches if you’re going for the sunset and warm clothes as it gets cold at the top.
How to hike Sunset Peak
There’s several ways up Sunset Peak. This guide will follow the route beginning at Pak Kung Au and ending at either Mui Wo or Tung Chung, because it’s the most accessible and straightforward hike. Other routes start from Tung Chung MTR station or the entrance to Lantau Country park from Mui Wo.
To reach the starting point take bus 3M or 11 from Tung Chung to Pak Kung Au. The trailhead begins on the same side of the road that the bus stop is on. Across the road is the starting point for Lantau Peak. Look out for signs pointing to Sunset Peak and start climbing.
Early on there’s a sitting area and bathrooms, if you need them. The first 2.5 kilometres can be brutal, with lots of steep steps and little shelter from the elements. Luckily Sunset Peak proves to be rewarding fairly early on as you rise above Tung Chung gap.
This part of the hike is the steepest and toughest, and though there’s a long way to go it will be less arduous from here on out. Soon you’ll reach the first ledge, from where you’ll cross to a valley between two hills. This side of the mountain is comparatively more mellow, with rolling hills covered in silver glass and dramatic looking rock formations. There are off-trail paths to several especially instagrammable boulders if you’re looking for a photo op.
Follow the signposts and enjoy the views. Once you reach the plateau on the other side of the mountain you’ll be able to see the ridge of Sunset Peak ahead of you. Head up towards the left by following any of the trodden paths through the grass.
Soon you’ll reach the trigonometry station and Sunset Peak sign marking the top of the mountain.
If you want to watch the sunset, this is the best spot – overlooking the airport, Lantau Peak and the sea.
By reaching the trigonometry station you’ve ticked the box and officially ascended Sunset Peak, but there’s more to see if you’re willing to stick around. Walk down the back of the mountain where you’ll find 20 stone huts.
There’s a bit of mystery surrounding them, but according to the accounts of missionaries’ children they were built in the interwar era as holiday homes for missionaries to escape the summer heat. In its heyday the Lantau Camp, as it’s sometimes known, even boasted a communal dining hall. Those who spent time there recall fierce typhoons that would ravage the camp and thick fog blanketing the peak for days at a time.
Most of the cottages are still privately owned, having been passed down the generations, and still in use. Others are derelict and look as if they’ve gone with the wind. A couple of the huts also have WhatsApp numbers written on them and can supposedly be rented out, though we haven’t been able to try that out for ourselves.
Once you’re done exploring, it’s time to head down. You could go back to Pak Kung Au the way you came, but if you have time take the route to Tung Chung or Mui Wo. The way down to Mui Wo is more scenic, though both entail a long descent with stairs to kill your knees.
Despite the lack of amenities, Sunset Peak is also a popular camping site, thanks to the secluded location and eerie looking huts. Make sure to double-check the weather forecast and pack accordingly if you do intend to spend the night and wake early to see the infamous fog. And be wary of rodents and the cold during the winter months.
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