The popular video ‘The Incline’, showing a brutal stair climb in Colorado, got the Hong Kong community talking. What is our answer to the famous set of stairs? The set in Manitou Springs, Colorado, has become a mecca for their trail running community. First-time hikers see it as a rite of passage and fitness fanatics scale it multiple times a day.
Hikes all across Hong Kong are packed with stair climbs. Here are some of the hardest, physically and mentally. Perhaps, as trail running grows in popularity, one of these inclines will become Hong Kong’s leg-burning church as it has for the Colorado folk.
Undoubtedly, the set of stairs that strikes the most fear into runners and hikers is on The Twins, on section one of the Wilson Trail. If you do the section in reverse, starting from Park View, you will see the straight line ascending up the mammoth hill as you come down Violet Hill. It is an unrelenting 1,000 steps. It is covered, so there are no views to distract you and it feels like it never ends, but it does. It is the perfect training as it is close to Hong Kong Island's populated centres, so you don’t have to travel far. It is tough, but in reality it does not take that long, so you can train and still have time for other activities in your day.
The top trail runners do it in under 10 minutes, but do not measure yourself against these athletic freaks. Try first to keep moving non-stop and build from there. Make it even more challenging by starting from Quarry Bay and heading up to Mt Parker. By the time you start the dreaded Twin, you would have already completed several climbs.
The unrelenting Needle Hill is so notorious there is even a race that simply goes back and forth over it 10 times. The views are spectacular, with Tai Mo Shan towering over you, Lion Rock looming in the distance and the city skyline in your view, too.
The sights are a welcome distraction from the tough climb, which starts at Shing Mun Reservoir near Tsuen Wan. It is on the MacLehose trail, so it is easy to navigate by following the markers with the image of a hiker carrying a pack with a walking stick. If you want more of a challenge still, continue on over Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak at 957 metres, and down to Route Twisk.
The summit of Lantau Peak (934 metres) is the highest point you can reach in Hong Kong. Tai Mo Shan is higher, but the summit is cornered off by an Observatory. You can head up to the summit of Lantau Peak via either side for an unrelenting climb. From Pak Kung Au, it is an undulating trail to the peak, with stairs throughout the ascent.
If you come from Ngong Ping, you are faced with huge steps that are sure to get your quads burning. You can add to the challenge by climbing Sunset Peak, too. It is just over the road at Pak Kung Au and has its own set of stairs to match Lantau's.
Pat Sin Leng
The Immortals are not so much a set of stairs, as a series of them. Up and down, up and down, you go over eight hillocks, slowly draining the energy from your legs as you go. It's like enforced interval training.
You can start near Bride's Pool or near Fanling from the other direction. The ridge is beautiful and the views across Plover Cove are incredible. It makes the series of mini staircases all worth it.
There is a nameless set of stairs behind Discovery Bay up to a lookout point. Starting at the T-junction of Discovery Bay Road and Seabee Lane, they head straight up into the hills. You can then continue on to Tiger’s Head or back down past the dam.
The staircase is short and sharp, the perfect pre-work blowout if you live in Discovery Bay and want to get a burn in your quads but don't have the time to head into the mountains.