If you’re adventurous and not phased by a challenge, then hiking to the caves of Lin Ma Hang could be for you!
The village of Lin Ma Hang was previously off limits as it lies on the border, and although the area has opened up now, the road entering the village still requires visitors to show entry permits, which is why we advise hikers to come via Robin's Nest. However, the caves can be reached via the village and Shek Kiu Tau as well.
The caves were previously mines for copper, lead, and silver, but were abandoned in 1962.
In 1994 it was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it became an important bat colony. AFCD has since launched a protection ordinance for these bats, and anyone caught hunting or disturbing these bat colonies will face a fine of $100,000 and a one-year imprisonment sentence. So explore responsibly!
Distance: 11 kilometres approx.
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced Total ascent: 490 metres Total time: 4 hours approx.
The easiest way to get to the start of the trail is by taxi or car to the end of the road at the very top of the hill. This can save you a steep climb along ~2.5km of concrete. But, if you are going to brave the drive up, be prepared for the long, narrow, winding roads. Meeting another car along this road requires a first-class degree in reversing, so if you're not confident in your driving, we would advise parking in the mini parking bay at the bottom of the hill and walking up this concrete road. If you are willing to risk the drive up (and down) you could shave roughly 5km and at least an hour and a half of hiking.
Once you've made the climb up to the basin of Robin's Nest, you'll need to follow a steep, eroded dirt path for roughly 15 minutes. Though this part is fairly challenging, the rest of the path after this section is much more manageable, and the views of both China and Hong Kong, make up for the difficult climb. Once the path flattens out, you will come across some stone steps to your left. Follow these up to the dirt path, marked by ribbons. This section is mostly sheltered by trees and gently undulates with the mountain.
Eventually, you will come out to a (now overgrown) clearing with some abandoned equipment, and metal gratings buried in the ground. From here, the turning off point, which (ironically) is a warning sign is a short walk away.
If you accidentally walk past this, you'll know you've gone too far when you hit the green radio station.
Once you've turned off at the warning sign, follow the coloured ribbon markers and you will come out to the main, and largest, mines to your right in 15 to 20 minutes.
From this point you have the option to turn down to explore the main mines or continue on to what appears to be nothing more than a dead-end, overlooking a pile of rubble and debris. However, if you continue on to the edge, you will notice a narrow path to the right, which takes you out to two lower entrances to the mines just at the base of the rubble.
If you choose to explore this section, do so at your own risk.
At the main mine, one of the caves to the left also takes you out to the same path leading to the two other mine adits. However, if you're not up for exploring the smaller caves, the main mine itself is pretty spectacular and unlike anything else you'll find in Hong Kong. Once you're done exploring the mines, simply retrace your steps back!