Hike Cloudy Hill a Hong Kong Classic

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(Last Updated On: November 15, 2019)
a view from hike Cloudy Hill
Nearing the top of Cloudy Hill, you’ll be able to see the Tolo Harbor and, off in the distance, Ma On Shan

Hike Cloudy Hill – A Bit of Background

First and foremost, if you decide to hike Cloudy Hill you will quickly realize it has many SPECTACULAR views. Now, it’s not an easy route, but it is very rewarding. Cloudy Hill itself is actually just one of the many peaks along Hong Kong’s famed 8-part, 78km, Wilson Trail. The Wilson Trail begins at the southern part of Hong Kong Island and terminates up north near the border of Shenzhen, China. When you hike Cloudy Hill, you will be on the Wilson Trail Section 8 up in Tai Po, New Territories. If you’d like to experience the entire 78km all in one go, consider registering for the charity race called the Raleigh Challenge, as the course covers the entire length of the Wilson Trail.

Where You Can Hike Cloudy Hill – Section of the 8 Wilson Trail

To hike Cloudy Hill, you will need to prepare yourself for a challenging experience but also one that is well worth the effort. The entire route is essentially a long set of approximately 3,500 stairs that cut right up the spine of the mountain.

stairs on Cloudy Hill
There are plenty of these! You’ll feel the burn, but if you’re like us, you’ll LOVE it!!!

The fact that most of this route is a steep ridge-hike is why the views are fantastic nearly right from the start. And, with any ridge hike, there is minimal shade along this route. If you attempt to hike this in Hong Kong’s warmer months, you will have to take extra precautions to deal with the sun and heat. With all of that said, if you are an advanced hiker, you should definitely consider hiking Cloudy Hill.

Looking down on Tai Po when you hike Cloudy Hill
This is the view you get a mere ~0.25 km up the trail. And they just keep getting better!

Not Suitable for Beginners

If you’re not and advanced hiker, you should consider something easier such as this unusual hiking route up The Peak or this off the beaten path route up to High Junk Peak. Advanced hikers, read on, as we will share with you all the information you need to hike Cloudy Hill on your own! If you’re looking for other advanced hiking options in Hong Kong, you can skip ahead to the bottom of this post for more places to explore. And, if you have anything you’d like to ask or tell us, please leave us a comment below.

If indeed you want to hike Cloudy Hill, but you want to leave the navigation to us, just click below, and we’d be glad to guide you!

Want a guide?

What Gear You NEED to Bring When You Hike Cloudy Hill

Nearing the summit when you hike Cloudy Hill
There is a lot of exposed parts on the route, so you’ll need to be prepared.

Below we share two different routes you can take to hike Cloudy Hill. Regardless of which you choose, you should be prepared for a challenging 6-7 km (~3-4 mi) hiking experience. To that end, you won’t need a lot of gear to enjoy your hike up Cloudy Hill, but you will certainly want to be adequately prepared. Here is the gear we recommend you bring to hike Cloudy Hill at any time of the year.

Water is Important on Cloudy Hill

In the summer time, we recommend you bring at least 2 liters of water per person. We bring 3 liters per person, but that’s be cause we sweat a lot. In the cooler months, 1.5 liters per person should be fine, but you know yourself best, so plan accordingly. When we hike, we use these Hydro Flask Water Bottles. They are reusable, so we feel good about making Hong Kong a greener place, and they are insulated so we feel good drinking either hot or cold beverages out of them, depending on the weather.

Sun Protection is Important Too

As mentioned above, when you hike Cloudy Hill, you’ll notice there is not much shade. If you hike this route in the summer time, you will definitely need to be prepared to protect yourself from the sun. We recommend the three products below. And, as weird as it may seem to hike with an umbrella, the shade it provides is well worth the bit of awkwardness we feel when hiking with an umbrella.

Hiking Shoes

To hike Cloudy Hill you will not need hiking boots, especially if you follow the route which takes you on the intermediate descent. The entire route is either hard-packed dirt or even paved stairs. Here is what the terrain on Cloudy Hill looks like. The route which takes you on the advanced descent will require you to do some bushwhacking, but even so, we felt very comfortable doing so in the shoes you can see below.

Hiking Socks

Believe it or not, hiking in wool socks will help prevent blisters from forming on your feet. That is why we hike in wool socks year round. The ones below are thin enough to use even during Hong Kong’s summers!

Rain/Wind Protection

a view of the Tolo Harbor
You’ll be pretty high up, so be prepared for chilly wind, especially in the cooler months.

If you hike Cloudy Hill in the fall or winter time, it can get a bit windy and thus chilly up at the top. If you hike Cloudy Hill during the summer time (especially in June or July) there is a good chance there’ll be a bit of rain. Either way, we usually bring our Marmot PreCip jackets when we do this hike.

Snacks

Whether or not you bring snacks is somewhat of a personal decision, but we always make sure to bring a little something to eat when we hike Cloudy Hill. Not only is this hike quite challenging, but it’s also a good emergency preparedness practice to carry a bit of food with you when you hike.

What Gear You MIGHT Want to Bring When You Hike Cloudy Hill

The following items are not essential for hiking Cloudy Hill, but if you think your knees might be a bit shaky after ~3,500 steps or if you’re into photography, you’ll want to seriously consider bringing these items.

Hiking Poles

dirt trail
Some parts of the trail have some loose dirt.

Again, if you think your legs are going to be a bit shaky from this challenging hike, a pair of hiking poles will be a perfect remedy. Especially on the downhills, these Black Diamond hiking poles take some of the strain off our knees, and when our legs are already tired, they also give us some much welcomed additional balance. On Cloudy Hill, especially if you take the route with the advanced descent, you should consider bringing some hiking poles.

Camera and Lens

There are LOTS of beautiful spots along the route up Cloudy Hill. So, if you’re keen to take a photo or two, which we normally are, why not do so with a camera that does the scenery justice? The Sony Alpha a7II has a full-frame sensor and a weatherproof body, so it’s super durable and takes GREAT pictures! The Sony 35mm F2.8 prime lens is lightweight and very compact, so we don’t waste any energy carrying a larger and heavier lens. It’s not ideal for landscapes, but its versatility makes it our usual choice.

A Drone

This gear item is definitely not necessary, but it is super fun! We love our DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo because it literally allows us to see places from vantage points we have never experienced before. To learn how to fly a drone, it took us a few hours of practice, but the photos and videos we can capture as a result are well worth the effort.

An External Hard Drive and a Wireless SD Card Reader/PowerBank

Last but certainly not least are these two items which, in conjunction with each other, you can use to backup both your camera and drone, in the field. The SanDisk 2TB Extreme is a rugged and weatherproof external hard drive, and the RAVPower Filehub Plus is a wireless SD Card reader and a power bank. Just pop the SD card out of you drone or camera, pop it into the RAVPower File Hub Plus, then plug your SanDisk Extreme drive into the RavPower File Hub Plus too. Next, you’ll be able to transfer all the data from your SD card onto your external hard drive (with the help of an app). Pretty neat, huh?

Getting There and Getting Home – Cloudy Hill

trail head of the hike up Cloudy Hill
This is the trailhead, point “A” on our Google Map. You can walk to it from the MTR.

One of the best things about hiking Cloudy Hill is that the trail head is SUPER easy to get to. We recommend you take the MTR (Hong Kong’s affordable and efficient metro) to Tai Wo Station, and then walk over to the trailhead. When you want to head home, just hop back on the MTR.

If you look at our entire Cloudy Hill route on our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map below, Tai Wo station is point “A”, and the trailhead is point “B”. (As a side note, you could start at point “E”, but that route is VERY challenging to follow, as it’s overgrown with a ton of tall grass and is also very steep. We do NOT recommend ascending Cloudy Hill by starting at point “E”.)

With all that said, if you simply want to enjoy the beautiful views and leave all the navigating to us, we’d be glad to guide you up Cloudy Hill. Just click below, and we’ll start planning with you!

Want a guide?

Difficulty and Distance – Cloudy Hill

Again, a hike up Cloudy Hill is best suited for advanced hikers. The ~3,500 steps is the main reason we say this. The lack of shade, especially in the warmer months, is another reason we consider this route so challenging. And, the ~7.9 km round trip distance as well as the ~483 m of elevation gain (on the route with the intermediate descent) are yet two more reasons we consider this route quite challenging. With that said, below we will describe two different routes. Both routes ascend along the same trail, however both descend on different trails.

Difficulty of the Intermediate Descent

In reference to our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map (also viewable below), to hike the route with the intermediate descent you will want to hike A –> B –> C –> D and then turn right around and retrace your steps by hiking D –> C –> B –> A. This entire route is on paved stairs and/or hard packed dirt trail.

Distance, Elevation Gain, Duration – Intermediate Descent

elevation profile
Elevation profile for the route with the intermediate descent.

The hiking route on Cloudy Hill that includes the intermediate descent is ~7.9 km and covers ~483 m of elevation gain. Intermediate hikers should plan on the round trip taking ~3 hours, and advanced hikers should plan on the round trip taking ~2 hours.

Difficulty of the Advanced Descent

First and foremost, taking the route with the advanced descent is ONLY something that the most advanced and thrill-seeking hikers as well as skilled navigators should consider. The trails is VERY overgrown with blade-grass (in many parts 7-8 feet tall), is very steep and is very hard to follow. The cell service here is also quite patchy, making it even more difficult to follow our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map route.

If you are comfortable navigating on difficult to follow trails, and if bushwhacking sounds fun to you, taking the advanced descent route might be a good choice for you. If you do want to attempt this, in reference to our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map (also viewable below), you will want to hike A –> B –> C –> D and then turn right around and hike D –> C –> E. The ascent of this route is on paved stairs and/or hard packed dirt trail, and again, the descent is bushwhacking through tall grass, down a steep grade and on a very hard to follow trail.

We do NOT recommend starting the hike from point “E” on our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map

Distance, Elevation Gain, Duration – Advanced Descent

elevation profile
Elevation profile for the route with the advanced descent.

The route with the advanced descent is ~6 km and has ~447 m of elevation gain. Intermediate hikers should NOT consider hiking this route. For an advanced hiker, the round trip of this route will take ~3 hours, as the advanced descent is quite slow going.

Our Routes to Hike Cloudy Hill

The best way to follow our hiking route up Cloudy Hill is, on your mobile device. To do so, simply follow along on our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map. If you click on the button in the top left corner of the map, pictured below, you will be able to toggle on or off the route you’d like to follow.

Our Route in Pictures – Hike Cloudy Hill

(Click to enlarge. The order of the pictures goes from left to right, top to bottom.)

If you’re keen to hike the Pat Sin Leng range, check out our Pat Sin Leng Range Hiking Guide!

If you’re keen to hike a ridge along the Lam Tsuen Valley, check out our Razor’s Edge Ridge Hiking Guide!

***At this point, if you’re hiking the route with the intermediate descent, simply turn around, and retrace your steps back to Tai Wo Station. Do NOT follow the pictures below***


The Route with the Advanced Descent

If you’re considering the route with the advanced descent, you too will just turn right around, but when you get to the survey marker again, you will make a left hand turn and follow the pictures below. Have a look.

From this point forward, the path is sporadically marked by red ribbons. By following the red ribbons and our hike Cloudy Hill Google Map, we were able to navigate successfully.

Other Hong Kong Hiking Adventures

Since you’ll probably be hungry after hiking Cloudy Hill, consider some of these nearby eateries for some Hong Kong soul foods. And, if you’re looking for other advanced hikes in Hong Kong, you should seriously consider hiking Pat Sin Leng or hiking Razor’s Edge Ridge (both mentioned above), or even the beautiful waterfall trail at Ng Tung Chai. If you’re looking for something a bit more mellow, consider hiking this unusual route up The Peak or even the Hong Pak Country Trail. If you’re a beginner hiker, a hike at Waterfall Bay is both beautiful and easy, and a walk through the Venice of Hong Kong is fascinating!

No matter what you’d like to do, if you have question or comments, feel free to leave them below, and we’ll get back to you in a flash!

Happy hiking!

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