The stunning Ma Dai Stream trek (馬大石澗) to Hero Falls is a popular destination amongst rock climbers and canyoneers, with crisp, clean waters and several pools to dip into. If you and your dog are frequent explorers and are comfortable with scrambling, this trek is for you. However, if you're new to stream trekking with your dogs, we would recommend you start off with something slightly easier such as Tsing Tai Stream or Wong Lung Hang, as Ma Dai can be challenging enough for the humans, without having to worry about lifting your dog up and down rocks.
Distance: <5 kilometres approx.
Total time: 3-4 hours approx. (including rests) Shaded? None Water? Freshwater stream and waterfalls Verdict: Only attempt if your dog is capable of tackling big rocks on their own, or comfortable with being assisted up and down. Do no not attempt during or after heavy rain
Our walk starts next to the Hong Kong Forest Adventures school, at the very bottom of the stream. Although there is a shortcut you can take along the water service road (labelled Tai Shui Hang Waterfall Hike on Google maps) to bring you closer to Hero falls, we recommend starting near the school so that you can enjoy more of the stream and the pools along the way.
Once you have found your way to the stream, it's simply a matter of following this, and finding the best route up and around these rocks, until you get to the dam.
This walk follows the stream the whole way, so do not take any turnings off the stream to join any hiking trails.
Once at the dam (also the shortcut and exit) you will need to take the stairs to the right of the stream, where you can then choose to either take the bridge (to the left) to access the water service road and call it a day, or continue on to see Hero Falls, which is another thirty to forty minutes.
It is at these steps, where you see the bridge, that you have the option to continue on to a hiking trail. However, to access the falls or the bridge you will need to walk along the slope to your left. If continuing on to Hero Falls (pictured below), get back into the stream and follow this up to the top. However, if you have had enough, cross the bridge over the dam for the exit.
The bridge over the dam makes for a great exit as you can then avoid having to climb back down the rocks, all the way to the start. *Remember, climbing up is always easier than coming back down, so do keep that in mind! Once you've crossed this bridge, follow the steps to your left until you reach the gate. Here you will need to lift your dog over a small gate at chest height, so it's best if you have a partner to help receive the dog on the other side. Alternatively, there is a whole in this gate which some dogs may jump through, however this will prove tricky for larger dogs, which is why we do not recommend bringing dogs on this trek unless you are capable of lifting them. From here, simply follow the water service road to the very end until you hit Hang Tak Street and Sai Sha Road.
Should you wish to forego trekking up the stream and just see Hero Falls, simply follow the water service road to the very end and climb over the gate to your left. This path leads you up some stairs to a bridge where you can cross the dam and then turn left to follow the stream up to the main falls.
If you're in the mood for food after - and you probably will be - head back towards Chevalier Gardens where there are a few local cafes with outdoor seating that allow dogs. We particularly liked 休閒茶座 next to the Tai Shui Hang Tsuen Car Park, as it was fully covered, dog-friendly and had fans.