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Where can you go in Hong Kong for exciting and scenic mountain biking?
Here is Hong Kong's top pick of the local mountain bikers, both expats and Chinese. It is a partly improved bike and hiking track that goes down the east side of Tai Mo Shan in Tai Lam Country Park. It is exciting for skilled bikers to navigate the rocks and roots, and promises great scenery along the way if you look up.
It goes all the way to a scenic lake at the bottom. According to the government information signs posted along the way, this is a difficult track with very difficult sections. It could be dangerous for the unskilled and reckless especially if the track is wet.
The allure of this route is going downhill on Hong Kong's highest mountain through beautiful country, woods, and scenery. People enjoy coasting down. It is a lot of fun for many people, even teenagers and kids around age 10. It is famed among local bikers because it is a long route, but even kids can do the route if they are careful.
Because it is downhill, it is suited for skilled mountain bikers who don't want to exert themselves much. If people go slowly and carefully on their bikes, there isn't much exertion. It is like a roller coaster ride (all downhill though).
There are two sections of this route. They are on the eastern side of the mountain in the Tai Lam Country Park. Tai Lam's bike paths are Hong Kong's most popular mountain bike routes, and numerous races and competitions are held here.
The route starts near Twisk Road. You can park or get off at Twisk Road and ride downhill on a paved road for 500 meters until you get to a little side turn off for the Kap Lung Trail. See the section below about transportation to this spot on Twisk Road.
Once off the road, there is a rough rocky bumpy single track for the first 300 meters. Then the trail smooths out and gets easier for about another kilometer.
Then the trail splits at a place with a bench and a covered big park map. The right hand route continues the Kap Lung Trail, and the left hand route is the Ho Pui route. Take the Ho Pui route.
The Ho Pui route is marked with a black diamond sign that means that this route is deemed very difficult for mountain biking by the park officials. Take this left hand route, and you'll immediately go down a steep decline. There is a guard rail on the side to keep people from falling into the valley. Don't go to fast here because then comes a bumpy section where it would be too dangerous to be going fast on.
Then for about four kilometers, the track widens and become a nice wide smooth red dirt track that would be bad in wet weather. But in dry weather, it is a great ride through the forest. The vegetation keeps people from seeing much of a view, but then the trail goes to where you can see long distance views if you want to stop.
Before reaching the Ho Pui Reservior, you can look downhill and see the Yuen Long Valley and Shenzhen (a big city on the China side of the border) if the weather is right. 500 meters later there is a turn off with a sign pointing to the Ho Pui Reservoir. Then comes a steep downhill section that is slippery and even dangerous when wet. So take care.
Near the end of this section, the last decline is steep. This brings you to the reservoir. It is a public picnic area, and you might enjoy a break there. Beware of riding on the So Kwun Wat road here. See Permits below.
Beware of permit on the road at the reservoir: When you get to the reservoir, beware of riding on the So Kwun Wat road since people have been given tickets for riding their bikes there.
Country park bike permit: No permit is required for this stretch. The new law enacted November 2014 says: "Members of the public who ride bicycles on designated mountain bike trails/sites in country parks do not have to apply for a permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department."
Skilled riders love this trail because it is difficult with roots, rocks and dusty tracks. You my need to use your brake and feet a lot to control the decent. It is a rough dirt trail, gouged by rain, and in dry weather, it is a fine and fun quick descent down the face of the mountain. It is fairly straightforward to ride down and navigate on a good dirt bike if you know what you are doing. The trail is well marked.
Beware wet track: But in wet conditions, the trail can be dangerous even for skilled riders. The dusty tracks turns into slippery mud. Falling in mud puddles is no fun.
Beware of people: A lot of skilled mountain bikers might want ride the path quickly. Be careful about slower bikers and pedestrians on the track. Pedestrians will normally move out of the way, but keep an eye.
Safety advice: Fit inexperienced people can do this route in dry weather. Go slowly and walk instead of ride down difficult rocky areas, slick muddy areas, areas that seem too steep, and stairways unless you are really skilled. It would be a good place to train to get mountain biking experience.
China Highlights could provide a van and driver for clients. There is a spot to unload bikes about 500 meters south of Sheung Tsuen Park on Twisk Road. It is quite difficult to ride up on a bike.
There is a public bus on Twisk Road, but it usually doesn't take bikes. Taxis will take bikes for a small charge, and the drivers in that area often know about the drop off point for this popular bike trail.
From that starting point, there is a road going west down the hill. Take it about 500 meters. At the place where the road makes a sharp right turn, stop and go off road on the trail to the left behind the guardrails. This is one of the entrances for the Kap Lung Trail.
Bike rental: A great thing about Hong Kong is that there are affordable, even inexpensive shops for tourists to rent a bike for a day around Hong Kong at popular biking places. Sha Tin is a popular biking area, and you can rent mountain bikes starting about 250 HKD (32 USD) per day. Cheap regular bikes start at less, about 50 or 60 HKD, but these are not suitable for the track. There are also good bike shops at Tai Po and Tai Mei Tuk.
Season: By far the best time to go for dry track is from November to March. Other months get very much rain. Hong Kong also gets very hot in the summer.
There are other fine mountain bike trails used by local bikers on Lamma, around Pui O on Lantau, in Sai Kung Country Park and other places. There are also good road bike routes suited for older people, children and families. See below.