Monday, June 1, 2009

Hiking the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail (photo-essay)

It used to be that the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail was the main path used by hardy folks to go from the market towns of Yuen Long to Tsuen Wan (or vice versa). These days, however, this 12.5 kilometer long footpath that takes one clear across Tai Lam Country Park (which occupies some 5,370 hectares of land in the Western New Territories) through some pretty scenic sections of Hong Kong's second largest country park serves a largely leisure purpose: that is, as a favorite hiking route.

At the same time, those contemplating hiking the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail should bear in mind that, when one adds in the distance between the Tsuen Wan end of the path to the nearest bus stop in the area (at Allway Gardens) and that needed to get from the Yuen Long end of the path to the nearest minibus stop in that area (over in Tai Tong Tsuen), the total hiking distance is actually closer to 15.2 kilometers. Also, that one will go from about 50 meters above sea level to over 400 meters above sea level and then back down again to about 20 meters above sea level.

Is it worth the exertion? I believe so -- and actually would rank this among the top five hikes I've been on in Hong Kong thus far. To give you some idea why, here follows the first photo-essay with pictures taken along this trail that gets one realizing how tough folks were -- and life was -- in days gone by:-

Between urban land and country park
lies cultivated greenery of the kind
few expect
Asia's World City to possess

Ditto re land that looks to still be farmed
in a pretty small-scale and traditional way

The signboards in the photo are where
the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail officially begins

over on the Tsuen Wan side

A view of the trail as it hugs the sides of hills
and one rounds a corner
of it

Looks like we're miles from civilization, right?

Yet not that far away, if one were to look
down below,
this is the scene one would see!

Also, here's a view from the Ancient Trail
that takes in the
Tsing Ma and Ting Kau Bridges

Leaving you for now with a glimpse of
a more forested part of a trail that
takes one through a range of landscapes...

To be continued by way of another photo-essay (but of course!)! ;b


Anonymous said...

Looks like a wonderful hike (best taken on a cool day!).

I was surprised to see so many other hikers.

BTW, I really do appreciate the large size of your photos. I love it when I click on a photo in your post and then am "teleported" to the "life-size" version. For a second, it makes me feel like I'm really there. :D

A. said...

A well-used trail, I see! Especially when you consider that it's no easy stroll.

sarah bailey knight said...


I like how close you are to civilization in many of your hikes and that you photograph this in addition to the nature scenes.

Do you wear a hat? What percent of your hikes are on trails with no overhead tree coverage?

YTSL said...

Hi duriandave --

You got it right -- and for the record, I actually went on the hike in winter (February 1 of this year to be exact!).

Re many other hikers: Hiking's quite popular in Hong Kong. And as it so happens, I went hiking that day with a group of 12-15 people.

Lastly, I'd like to say thank you very much for going ahead and clicking on the photos to enlarge them. :)

Hi A. --

It's a long but not completely difficult trail. I have been on much more difficult ones -- and there also are lots of trails I don't think I'm ever going to be able to pluck up the courage to try hiking!

Hi sbk --

I wear a baseball cap -- and plenty of sunscreen and mosquito repellant, especially in the summer months. Yet it still doesn't completely prevent me from getting sunburnt from time to time.

Re the overhead tree coverage: Hmmm... I'm not sure re the percentage. It depends on where you hike. E.g., western Hong Kong Island has lots of overhead tree coverage but eastern Hong Kong Island less so. But I think I tend to gravitate towards the less overhead tree coverage hikes in cooler months because too much vegetation can obscure views! :)

Liv said...

How long did it take to you complete the Hike because that looks like something I'd be interested in trying.

YTSL said...

Hi Liv --

From meeting at Tsuen Wan MTR station to the Allways Garden by bus, the hike itself and the minibus into Yuen Long, it all took around 5 hours. So I'd say about 4 to 4 1/2 hours for the actual hike.

And yes, I'd recommend it... but only when the weather turns cooler. As you can see from the photos, some parts of the hike are pretty bereft of overhead tree coverage!