The mercury has plummeted with the arrival of December and now Hongkongers have a rare few weeks when the weather is like the third bowl of porridge, not too hot, not too cold. Hong Kong is 40 per cent country park and now is the perfect time to check out some steep hikes with less tree cover that you may have been avoiding in the stifling months of summer. MacLehose section seven and eight Starting at Shing Mun dam and ending at Route Twisk, stages seven and eight of the famous MacLehose are easily accessible by car or taxi. From the dam, start the climb up Needle Hill. It is steep and the stairs feel like they never end. In summer, it can turn into a real slog. But in winter, the cool temperatures are perfect and you can cast you eyes back to take in Lion Rock and Ma On Shan. After Needle Hill, you pass through a long flat section. Firstly, on a concrete road, then through a boulder-strewn field before descending into Lead Mine Pass. The best camping spots in Hong Kong for staycations Then begins the second climb up Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong (though you cannot reach the summit where an observatory perches). Reward your hard work with the view, then walk down the winding road to the end. Treat yourself to some food at the Tai Mo Shan Kiosk . The Hunchbacks, Ma On Shan This lesser known but stunning hike starts with a tough climb from the BBQ site on Ma On Shan Tsuen Road. Head up the stairs, then pass the lookout point and go off road. During the hike, you may see a couple of signs warning you not to go on. Proceed at your own risk as it is probably not the best hike for those scared of heights. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mark Agnew (@adventureagnew) A couple of scramble rock sections take you higher. One or two rocky areas have fixed ropes to assist your climbing. Though generally in good condition and a useful aid, never fully trust a rope with all your weight unless you have set it yourself. You never know what might have happened – a rusted anchor, an animal chewing the rope or just wear and tear. Keep climbing up and eventually you reach a magnificent saddle between a lower peak and the top of Ma On Shan. The world plunges down below to your left, with views of the Sai Kung Peninsular. To your right you can see Tai Mo Shan, Sha Tin and if you’re lucky, even Shenzhen. Head to the top of Ma On Shan, go down a steep path and you will reach MacLehose section four. You can turn left and exit via a few kilometres of downhill to the meeting of section three and four at Sai Shan Road. Or turn right along MacLehose four, follow another spectacular ridge, Pyramid Hill, and a large flat area where paragliders often launch. Then turn left to Sai Kung Town down a well-maintained path just after the grassy flat area. Pat Sin Leng and the Eight Immortals The final two sections of the Wilson Trail are incredible, but exposed to the sun and have no exit points if you get hot or tired before the end. Waiting until December is prudent. You can start by taking a taxi or minibus from Fanling MTR to Hok Tau Wai Pavilion. The start of the hike is steep and rocky, but once you’ve managed the initial climb you are on a long flat ridge. And it is stunning. To your right is Plover Cover and beautiful mountain views in the distance. Soon you reach the Eight Immortals, eight small but distinctive hills on the ridge that sap your energy. At the end of the Eight Immortals, you begin your descent down some steep steps. Turn right at the crossroads, down Pat Sin Leng Country Trail. At the bottom, by Plover Cover, you can get a bus back to Tai Po or walk down the road to Tai Mei Tuk for a meal. Sharp Peak Walk along MacLehose section two backwards from Pak Tam Road. The concrete path snakes along the side of a pleasant sea view and then begins to climb. When you reach the top of this climb turn left into the bushes by a small set of stairs. There may be a sign dissuading you to venture on. Proceed at your own risk, with proper shoes. The path gradually climbs and you are treated to the three Sai Kung beaches that look like a postcard from a distant untouched South Pacific island. Soon, after passing another warning sign, you reach the final climb up Sharp Peak. This steep, scrambling climb may require your hands. But after a short and intense ascent, you can turn left and walk up to the summit. There, you can see the beautiful beaches, all of Mirs Bay with China on the other side. In one sweeping view you can see the incredible shores of Sai Kung and, on a clear day, the tops of skyscrapers in the city. This is one of the best views in the world and proof that Hong Kong is not an urban jungle. Walk down the ridge towards the beaches. The path is like gravel, so be careful not to slip. Turn right at the bottom and walk along the beach. In Ham Tin, there are two small restaurants. On a calm day, you can get the boat back to Sai Kung for HK$150. But the days are rarely calm enough in December, as swells roll down from the northeast. You can walk back via MacLehose section two, or continue over to Sai Wan and up to Sai Wan Pavilion where you can get a bus or taxi, though as it is remote you may not have reception and the arrival of transport can be infrequent on quieter days. It is another 6km walk back to Pak Tam Chung if there are no taxis going by.