Updated: Jul 27
If you and your dog are intermediate explorers looking to advance to something a little more adventurous, the hike from Yuk Kwai Shan (also known as Mount Johnston) to Ap Lei Pai will not disappoint. It has everything thrill-seeking explorers are looking for being off the beaten path, involving climbs (occasionally requiring you to use all fours like your pup) and stunning scenic views. Plus, you end up at hidden gem of a rock pool.
While the hike itself looks quite short, don’t be fooled into thinking that it is an easy hike. Yuk Kwai Shan to Ap Lei Pai has zero shade, plenty of steep inclines and loose gravel, requiring the use of ropes in certain areas to navigate your way up and down the hill.
Is it suitable for dogs?
So long as your dog is fit, healthy, and capable of leaping they should be fine to attempt the formal trail (orange line) which involves Yuk Kwai Shan to Ap Lei Pai, and back (unless you decide to catch a Kaito from Ap Lei Pai). It’s usually the humans that struggle with these climbs! The alternative route back once your’ve completed Ap Lei Pai - the green line in the map below - involves coasteering your way to Horizon Plaza to the left of Yuk Kwai Shan.
This route has vertical climbs involving rope and step ladders, which will require assisting your dog up and down these drops, should you decide to take this route. If you are not familiar with doing such hikes with your dog, and they dislike being carried or walking along narrow paths high up, DO NOT attempt this route with your dog, as you will be required to carry them in certain areas!! Simply make your way back over Yuk Kwai Shan, or catch the Kaito back from the pier at Ap Lei Pai. As previously mentioned, this hike has zero shade, so find a cool and shaded day to attempt this one with your pups.
Distance: 4 kilometres approx.
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced
Total ascent: 196 metres
Total time: 3 hours approx. Shaded? None Water? Sea water after Yuk Kwai Shan, and rock pool at the end of Ap Lei Pai Verdict: Best not attempted during the hotter months
Although the start of this hike does not look very official, it is a well-known trail, and there are two ways to get onto the Yuk Kwai Wan (Mount Johnston) trail. One starts behind Lei Tung Estate and the other route up to the trail goes via the Lei Tung Estate Bus Terminus. We'll be starting at the Lei Tung Bus Terminus, in between the two yellow makeshift offices.
Once here, turn left and head up to the top of the stairs, and follow the fence to the left to get to the trail. Once the fence comes to and end, you'll eventually come out to a fork, both of which lead to the top of Yuk Kwai Shan, and require clambering you're way up to the top through some thick scrub and bushes. The ascent is steep and will be slippery but luckily, it’s not too long of a climb up.
At the top
You'll come to a trig point with stunning views over the East Lamma Channel, Lamma Island, and the connected Ap Lei Pai. To get to Ap Lei Pai follow the well-trodden path to the left. The descent here can be a little tricky, being the steepest section of the trail and lots of loose gravel. It's never recommended to rely on some random rope on any trail. However, if you do need a little support there is rope to assist you up and down this section. To be extra cautious, we would advise turning to grip the rope and rappelling backwards in Batman fashion vs going down front first.
Once at the sandbank, be sure to keep an eye on your dogs as a lot of rubbish can wash up here, and you wouldn't want them to ingest anything they're not supposed to! Head straight across the sandbank and take the path to the right, marked with a big red painted dot to follow the trail all the way to Mount Johnston lighthouse at the tip of Ap Lei Pai. Once you get here, take a right from the lighthouse along the rocky coast, where you will find a beautiful oasis of a rock pool, perfect for cooling off in. -Just be careful of the barnacles as you get in and out!
On the return, we would advise retracing your steps, going back the way you came, though, there is an alternative to the left of Yuk Kwai Shan which comes out at the back of Horizon Plaza, which should only be attempted by advanced explorers and hikers. If you have decided you've had enough, you may call a sampan to come pick you up from the pier, in between the lighthouse and rock pool. Call +852 92378915
The Advanced Route
When heading back from Ap Lei Pai, there is a path to the left of Yuk Kwai Shan when you arrive back at the sandbank, where rock climbers meet. This rock-climbing wall is easy enough to get to if you just want a closer look at the rock climbers in action. You'll even get a glimpse of the wooden plank bridge which marks the start to the more advanced route. If you have no plans of climbing with your dog, and walking along narrow pathways at height, then turn back now! Regardless of which route you take, we guarantee great views, a killer workout for your thighs, and a little burst of adrenaline.
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