Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Upper Tai Yuen Stream consists of a succession of impressive waterfalls and begins at the southern base of Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak in Hong Kong. This is another favourite of mine and is up there with HK's hardest hikes. I've put together this blog so that you can experience one of HK's most adventurous river systems and tick off its highest peak all within one day.
Hike Location: New Territories, Tsuen Wan District
Hike Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult (6/10)
Hike Length: 5-6 Hours
High Distance: 12km
Elevation Gain: ~850m
Disclaimer: Towards the end of the stream section there is a 20m rope climb. The climb requires a descent amount of upper body strength, but not necessarily prior climbing experiences. There may also be an alternative route up without use of the rope, although I did not search for one so I can't guarantee this.
This hike begins near the Yuen Yuen Institute in the Tsuen Wan District. The nearest MTR station is Tsuen Wan. From there, ask a taxi driver to take you to the Institute at the very end of Lo Wai Road. Once dropped off outside, follow the steep road on the left of the temple archway until you reach a small village. You'll find there are various routes through the village that lead you up to the catchwater.
Once you reach the catchwater, follow it to the right until you reach the large dam pictured below. This is where the trail gets interesting.
Climb up the steep steps and head to the left side of the dam. Now edge your way along the slanted rock face until you're in the river bed again. Once in the river bed, FOLLOW THE STREAM ON THE RIGHT.
From here on you simply stay within the stream. Some of the small waterfalls may challenge you but they are all climbable. Prepare to get wet and take care.
Before long, the stream gets wider and you'll be surrounded by water collection pipes. Continue left when you reach the mini manmade reservoir.
The next landmark is a bridge where the Lung Mun County Trail crosses the stream. The bridge is roughly half way up the stream system, but maybe only 1/3rd of the hike if you're aiming for the peak of Tai Mo Shan. It should take 1 hour to reach the bridge from entering the stream at the catchwater.
Continue in the stream when you're ready for the next section. If you haven't already committed to getting wet, now is probably the time. Twenty minutes or so and the thick tree canopy will open up to a succession of larger falls.
When you reach the largest and steepest fall (photos below) there is a path that takes you through the bamboo, up the right-hand side of the fall. The waterfall itself is probably too risky to climb, especially after heavy rain.
After the largest of the waterfalls there are still many other rock formations and smaller falls to navigate, including a 20m rope climb. The rope climb is the most technical part of this trail and requires a decent amount of upper body strength, but should still be manageable for those with no previous climbing experience.
The twin waterfall below is one of the final falls you come across before another country trail intersects the stream system. Once you reach that trail take a left and follow the path for 10 more minutes.
After 10 minutes there should be orange ribbons on your right, marking the start of a lightly trodden trail to the top of Tai Mo Shan. If unsure where to turn off, you can look at the exact route I took by downloading my Google Earth KML file at the bottom of this page.
Eventually you'll reach a road that leads to the top of Tai Mo Shan. It should take approx. 1 hour to reach this road from the orange ribbons. Hopefully the clouds won't be as low as they were for us...
You now have a few options:
1) follow the road to the top
2) follow the route we took to the top, which was off-piste and through the bush
3) skip the peak and take the road back down to Route Twisk, where you can grab a taxi or bus back to Tsuen Wan MTR.
We walked off-piste to the top and then took the road back down. This isn't necessary but if you're a bit of a perfectionist and want to push on to the tallest point in Hong Kong after an adventurous stream hike, then it's an extra 30 minutes of hiking. Enjoy the trail!
See the route I took on the MAP below (green dot is the starting point) and download the KML file to see the route in Google Earth 3D. Watch my KML tutorials for downloading the map on both laptop and mobile.
Below is a screenshot from the Google Earth KML file.