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It can be easy to forget about Hong Kong’s sub-tropical paradise when you’re getting your hustle on in Asia’s most cosmopolitan city streets. But runners in the know regularly retreat to lush jungles and rollicking reservoirs to run with great abandon right in their HK backyard. Hitting the smooth gravel, dirt, or wood chip path, the terrain and scenery are as motley as our fair city itself. From sandy beaches to big hills with spectacular coastal views and high peaks with some serious elevation, breathtaking trails abound for novice runners and hardcore enthusiasts working on fartlek, tempo, or interval workouts alike. Below, we share the city’s best running trails.
Best Beginner Trails
A short road run between the Promenade of two beaches, Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay, the affectionately named path (HK Running founder David Tanner gave it its moniker) covers a 2.73km distance with little elevation.
To get there: From Central Exchange Square, catch bus 260, 6, 6A, and get off at Repulse Bay Beach.
A fun run starting from the Star Ferry Terminal to Fisherman’s Wharf, this 4km path is visually stimulating. On the Kowloon Public Pier, there is the Canton Railway Clock Tower, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Avenue of the Stars, and a Grauman’s Chinese Theatre-esque handprints of popular motion picture personalities. Continuing on, the path turns into the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade and merges with the Hung Hom Promenade before wrapping up at the Fisherman’s Wharf shopping mall.
To get there: Arrive at Star Ferry Terminal in Kowloon and head east.
Best Long Trails
Hong Kong Trail
Totaling 50km, the Hong Kong Trail divides itself into eight sections beginning from Victoria Peak to Big Wave Bay. Starting at Lugard Road on The Peak, the trail is highly visible with markers posted every 500 meters. If you are pressed for time, there are numerous ducts to duck out of. The first two stages are predominantly paved and include stairs, while the other sections are jagged with lots of rise and falls along the way.
To get there: Take Bus 15 or Green Minibus 1 to get to Section 1. Or, Bus 6, 41A, 76 to get to the end of Section 4 to go backwards.
One of the most venerable running trails, this 70km path features the third highest peak in Hong Kong (aka Lantau Peak, measuring a cool 3,064 feet) and amounts (!) to a steep running path with non-stop magnificent views. Divided into 12 sections, the best part takes place between Stages 4 to 6 beginning at the Big Buddha and ending in Tai O: it’s a total of 14km of sweeping panoramas and a money shot of the Shek Pik Reservoir.
To get there: To begin at Stage 4, from Central Pier take the ferry to Mui Wo at Pier 6 and catch the bus to Big Buddha.
Best Flat Trails
Happy Valley Race Track Infield
A public park smack dab in the center of Happy Valley Racecourse, the infield comes equipped with a jogging trail right next to the track’s inside rail. A short, paved 1.37km flat path open to the public (except on race days!), there are changing rooms, toilet and lockers available at the building in the middle of the sports ground.
To get there: From Causeway Bay MTR, exit A and walk 15 minutes toward Happy Valley, along Wong Nai Chung Road. Or, take a tram to Happy Valley Tram Terminus. The entrance will be marked as “Infield Entrance.”
You’ll be hard pressed to find a Hong Kong Island resident who hasn’t at least heard of Bowen Road. One of the most quintessential trails in the city, offering glimpses of the ever changing landscapes of the island from Central through to Happy Valley, Bowen Road is a paved 4km run beginning off Magazine Gap Road in the west and ending at Stubbs Road in the east. Free of cars and shaded from trees, the trail is a tranquil respite above the loud city life below. A 5 min cab ride to Central, Bowen Road’s convenience can’t be beat. Fair warning: when weather temperatures are ideal, it might get crowded.
To get there: From Wan Chai, it’s an uphill trek straight up from Wan Chai Gap Road which intersects Bowen Road. Or, catch Green Minibus 9 to drop you off on Magazine Gap Road. Or, catch Bus 6, 15, 66, 76, 19, 41A, 63 to drop you off on Stubbs Road.
Best Incline Trails
The newest of the famous four long-distance trails, (aka the MacLehose Trail, the Hong Kong Trail, the Lantau Trail, and the Wilson Trail), we chose to categorize this 78km long-distance footpath as an incline trail because of its strenuous start. The beginning of the run ascends straight up to a set of hills known as The Twins. Though the climb is long, you are rewarded with dramatic vistas. Stage 1 begins on Stanley Gap Road and ends in Nam Chung.
To get there: From Central Exchange Square, catch bus 260, 6, 6A, and get off at Stanley Market. Click here for more information on access points and facilities for this trail.
A favorite from HK Running, Rocket Man is a 16.7km trail run with lots of elevation and amazing views, transporting you through vast landscapes and tough hills. The trail begins at Kei Ling Ha Lo Wai and finishes down passed Sha Tin Pass Road.
To get there: Take the MTR to Choi Hung and catch the Green Minibus to Sai Kung. Or, take the MTR to Sha Tin and catch bus 299X to Sai Kung.
Bonus: Hong Kong Running Resources
HK Running: Founded by HK native, David Tanner, HK Running is a great platform to find new places to run or hike. Covering road, trail and athletic track locations all over the city, each route is vetted by Tanner and his team and features information on distance, elevation, transport, access points, and food/water or toilet stops.
Map My Run: Powered by Under Armour, Map My Run provide users with the tools to map, record and share their routes with the world. Featuring over 8,500 routes in HK, the simple app features distance and elevation information, as well as handy maps.
Nike+ Run Club: Popular amongst running enthusiasts, the Nike+ Run Club app features GPS tracking details of your run, customized coaching plans to meet your fitness goals, and awesome curated Spotify playlists to keep you motivated.
Images courtesy of Pexels