The mountain range in the Sha Tau Kok District of the New Territories in Hong Kong has some of the most interesting sites. When you spend the day hiking up the mountain ridge, you can reach the two highest peaks in northern HK, Robin’s Nest (紅花嶺) and Hung Fa Chai (紅花寨). And in the north valley, you can explore the hidden Lin Ma Hang Cave (蓮麻坑礦洞) near the regulated border zone between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China.
While there are many ways to hike across the mountain, I’ll show you a point-to-point trail that transverses from east to west then to north. The hiking route connects the two peaks, abandoned WWII war relics, a lead mine cave, an observation post and a small village that is part of the Frontier Closed Area.
The hike is a bit more challenging but you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of northern Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Keep reading and I’ll show you how to spend the day trekking the Robins Nest hike in Hong Kong.
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What you need to know before starting Robin’s Nest hike
Before you start hiking to Robin’s Nest and Lin Ma Hang Caves, take a look at my Hong Kong solo travel guide and get an overview of HK first.
Here are a few additional tips for the Robin’s Nest hike:
- The best time for the hiking to Lin Ma Hang Cave and Robin’s Nest is late autumn, winter and early spring. A big part of the trail is exposed to the sun so I would not recommend hiking during the height of summer.
- Bring at least 2L of water for a few hours of hiking.
- Part of the trail is walking between bushes. Cover your legs by wearing long pants so you don’t get too many scratches.
- Get an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard for taking public transportation and use it for taking the MTR and minibus to and from Sha Tau Kok. It costs $100HKD, but you can use $50 stored value and get your $50HKD refundable deposit when you leave HK.
- If you want to see the detailed route for the Robins Nest hike, download “Hiking Trail HK” app on your smartphone since Google Maps does not show the route from Robin’s Nest to Lin Ma Hang Caves. But if you follow my itinerary and see the attached map below, you will have all the info you need.
How to hike Robins Nest and Lin Ma Hang Caves
The best way to hike Robin’s Nest and Lin Ma Hang Cave is to start the point-to-point trail at Sha Tau Kok and finish at Lin Ma Hang. First, hike across the mountain ridge to the first peak, Hung Fa Chai. Then hike to second peak, Robin Nest.
Then follow the trail between the two peaks and hike north and descend the mountain. When you see several warning signs, turn right and explore Lin Ma Hang Caves.
And finally, continue to descend, passing Macintosh Castle and finish the hike near Lin Ma Hang Village.
Google Maps only has the trail details east of Robin’s Nest, which is not part of this hiking itinerary. But the Hiking Trail HK app has all the trail details. I highlighted the actual trail below. I also included the elevation profile for this trek.
- Difficulty: intermediate (lots of steep ups and downs)
- Duration: 6 hours
- Distance: 9km
- What to bring: hiking shoes, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), at least 2L of water, snacks, smartphone (for taking photos and navigation), hiking gloves
How to get to the start of the hiking trail to Robin’s Nest
From anywhere in Hong Kong, take the MTR to Sheung Shui Station. Take exit A3 and find 55K minibus across the street. Hop on the minibus and alight at Tam Shui Hang bus stop. The journey takes about 35 – 40 minutes.
- Minibus55K: from Sheung Shui MTR Station to Tam Shui Hang bus stop
- Time: 40 minutes (every 4-10 minutes)
- Cost: $10.3HKD (use Octopus Card)
- Check: 16Seats website for 55K minibus schedule and other info
Alight at Tam Shui Hang bus stop
When you are close to Tam Shui Hang bus stop (see location), either press the stop button or ask the driver to stop at the next bus stop.
Walk east on the main road, Sha Tau Kok Road. You’ll walk pass a pink resting pavilion and a public bathroom on the left. Keep walking on the left side of the road and turn left on Shan Tsui Village Road.
Find the start of the hiking trail on Shan Tsui Village Road
Walk about 5 minutes on Shan Tsui Village Road. The hiking trail entrance is on the left, next to a sign. Hike up the rugged path and start your hiking journey to Robin’s Nest.
Arrive at Japanese Battery Hill
After about 10 minutes of hiking up the slight incline, you will see a half-buried rectangular concrete pillbox on the right hand side. This is part of the Japanese Battery Hill (日軍碉堡山).
Also known as Shan Tsui Battery, there are about six pillboxes, a series of well-maintained trenches, a water well protected by a stone retaining wall. These abandoned war relics were left by the Japanese military when they occupied the area during WWII.
Google Maps show the location of “Japanese Battery Hill, Shan Tsui Village” but it doesn’t show the trenches or paths around the area. You can walk behind the pillbox and explore some of the trenches and find other pillboxes and the water well. It is quite interesting as I have never seen anything like this in Hong Kong before.
Hike up to the first triangulation station
Continue on the main hiking path. The trail opens up and from this point forward, the hiking path is mostly exposed to the sun. Hope you brought a hat and sunscreen.
Along the way, you will come across the first triangulation station. Not sure why there is a little stubby trig station here because it’s not exactly the highest point. But I’ve never seen a short post. Maybe the city is in the process of putting a proper trig station here?!
And in the distance, you can see a transmission tower and a couple of mountain peaks. This is the direction you are hiking towards.
See views from the second triangulation station
As you hike up the mountain, you will approach the second triangulation station. It is still not the highest point in the mountain range but the views from here is quite breathtaking.
When you look back, you can see the small residential buildings from the village of Sha Tau Kok, the tall buildings in Shenzhen, Starling Inlet and the mountains of Plover Cove Country Park.
Walk under the transmission tower and keep left
Keep hiking up the mountain by following the rugged path. It will lead you to a resting area near the transmission tower. The path continues under the tower.
When the path splits, take the path on the left. You want to continue hiking up the mountain ridge. There are also markers along the hiking trail.
The hiking path get steeper as you get close to the pavilion at the top. There are a series of steep trails with ropes on one side.
Reach the abandoned pavilion at the top
Keep climbing the steep path and use the ropes. They really do come in handy!
When you reach the top, there is an abandoned viewing platform or pavilion at the top. Not sure what the purpose of this structure because it doesn’t look like other war relics in the hills. But nonetheless, the views from the pavilion is fantastic!
Similar to the view you saw from the second trig station, now you can see more of the area including Shau Tau Kok, Shenzhen, Starling Inlet and beyond.
And FYI – there is a laminated sign at the abandoned pavilion indicating the direction of Robin’s Nest, Lin Ma Hang Cave and other places in the mountain. When I read a few blogs and watched several YouTube videos, I knew I had to look for these laminate signs to help navigate my way through the mountain.
However, at the time of my hike (March 2022), I only saw one laminated sign here and nowhere else. Perhaps they have been removed? But don’t worry, the way to Robin’s Nest and Lin Ma Hand Cave is actually quite easy. I detailed everything I know in this post so you don’t have to rely on these laminated signs.
Follow the blue arrow to Robin’s Nest
From the abandoned pavilion, there are two ways to get down the mountain. Take the path behind the pavilion. It has a laminate sign with a blue arrow next to an abandoned outhouse. This is the way to Robin’s Nest peak and Lin Ma Hang Cave.
When you hike towards Robin’s Nest, the trail is quite narrow and are surrounded by several abandoned WWII relics and trenches. It might not seem like you are going the right way because the path is so dense but you are.
The other way down the mountain will take you to another part of Sha Tau Kok. This is not the route. Make sure you follow the blue arrow.
See several abandoned war buildings
There are many abandoned wartime relics scattered in the New Territories by the Japanese military and many of them can be found here in Sha Tau Kok.
As you keep hiking the narrow path, there are a few more abandoned buildings. Some of these buildings look like where the soldiers used to live because there were bathroom facilities. And other relics you can find in the area include pillboxes, trenches and observation posts.
These abandoned buildings are quite interesting and creepy at the same time. When you are ready to move forward, follow the arrows drawn on the side of the building. The hiking path is to the right of the building.
Take in the 360º views on the mountain ridge
After leaving the abandoned war relics, the trail ascend to an area where you can see a 360º view of the entire area.
To the southeast direction, you can continue to see the views you saw as you hiked up the mountain. And to the northwest, you can see and the Shenzhen TV Tower in Wutong Mountain and the buildings of Shenzhen.
Continue hiking on the mountain ridge
The hiking path to Robin’s Nest and Lin Ma Hang Cave continues on the ridge of the mountain. You’ll have to hike down several steep paths and hike back up.
Beyond this point forward, the hiking trail is completely exposed. Try not to go on a sunny day because it can be super hot. And make sure to bring enough water for a few hours of hiking.
Reach the first peak: Hung Fa Chai
When you are approaching the Hung Fa Chai, you have to walk around (to the left) of the peak and find a steep hiking trail to the summit of the mountain.
There isn’t a trig station at the top. But at 489m, you can see a bird’s-eye view of Sha Tau Kok and Starling Inlet in the southeast direction. And you can see the mountain peaks along the mountain ridge that you just hiked.
And to the northwest, the city and mountains of Shenzhen looks a bit closer.
Continue to Robin’s Nest peak
When you are at the summit of Hung Fa Chai, you can see the hiking path (a thin line) from where you are standing and it extends all the way across the top of the mountain ridge. This is the trail to Robin’s Nest peak. The last peak on the right is Robin’s Nest!
First, you’ll have to backtrack by hiking down the steep slippery slope. Use your hiking gloves and descend slowly.
Then keep trekking until you see the path splits. Take the path on the right and it will take you across the top of a peak and back down. You’ll see a perendicular trail here. Remember this trail because you will have to come back to this trail later and hike north to Lin Ma Hang Cave.
To continue forward to Robin’s Nest peak, hike up another hill at the perpendicular trail.
Reach the second peak: Robin’s Nest
After a few hours of hiking up and down the mountain range, you will finally arrive at the highest peak in the northern part of Hong Kong: Robin’s Nest!
At 498m, the view from the summit is similar to the view from Hung Fa Chai but the view to the west of the peak opens up. On a clear day, you can see other parts of northern Hong Kong and also the central part of Shenzhen.
It was back in 2017 when the city announced that it was planning to designate this area as a country park. We’re not quite there yet though but hopefully by the time you hike this trail the area would be called Robin’s Nest Country Park.
Hike north on the hiking trail east of Robin’s Nest
Initially, I was a bit confused about finding the cave at Lin Ma Hang because I didn’t see any signs other bloggers and Youtubers mentioned. But actually, hiking from Robin’s Nest to Lin Ma Hang Cave is quite easy.
Remember the perpendicular trail I mentioned earlier? The trail runs perpendicular to the trail on the mountain ridge to Robin’s Nest? This is the trail that will lead you to Lin Ma Hang Cave. The Hiking Trail HK app shows this trail (see below).
From Robin’s Nest, hike down the peak to the perpendicular trail and hike north. If you descend on the other side of Robin’s Nest, you can walk on the flat trail around Robin’s Nest peak and find the perpendicular trail (like how I indicated on the map).
The hiking route to Lin Ma Hang Cave is pretty easy. It is a gentle slope or stairway.
Walk pass three sets of signs
It takes about 20-25 minutes or so before you see the first sign on the left.
Then a few minutes later, there are two signs on the right. This is also the trail going to Lin Ma Hang Cave. Turn right here.
The hiking path continues until you see the third sign right in the middle of the path. Walk around it and Lin Ma Hang lead mine cave is not far away.
Explore Lin Ma Hang Lead Mine Cave
I didn’t know there are caves in Hong Kong until I was scrolling through Instagram. And then I found Lin Ma Hang Cave.
The history of Lin Ma Hang Cave is pretty interesting. It was a lead mind back in 1915 and the city was hoping they can procure lead metal and silver. But the prospect wasn’t great. Operation stopped and the cave was abandoned in 1962. And in 1994, the cave was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and it became one of the most important bat colonies in HK.
I was too excited to take photos of the opening of the caves and also because it’s been a long day, I totally forgot to take photos of the back of the cave! There are several areas that are boarded up. They look like they go further into the cave. It looks dark and there may be bats there (I think I heard bats).
Moreover, the area just outside of the cave is worth exploring. There was one cave opening where it looked like you can walk through. I was too scared to walk through a dark cave with just a flashlight on my mobile phone. If you do explore this part of the cave, let me know in the comments.
Descend the stairs next to MacIntosh Fort to Lin Ma Hang
When you are ready to continue forward, backtrack out to the second set of signs and continue on the main path down the mountain.
And in no time, the hiking trail opens up and you will see the MacIntosh Fort (伯公坳麥景陶碉堡) on the right and a trail to Lin Ma Hang (蓮麻坑) on the left.
Even though you cannot see the MacIntosh Fort up-close, you can still peek through the fence and see the fort. Built between 1949 and 1953 and the fort was built near the border as an observation post safeguarding the order from illegal immigrants. It is the second highest in altitude among the seven forts built in the area. And it is a Grade 2 historic building.
Continue to descend the mountain by following the path to Lin Ma Hang. And here you can see the best view of Shenzhen from Hong Kong. This is probably the closest viewpoint of this Chinese border city.
Wait for minibus 59K beyond the restricted zone on Lin Ma Hang Road
Lin Ma Hang is a small village in the northern part of Hong Kong and is part of the Frontier Closed Area. This means that this village is part of the regulated border zone where you need a permit to access the area.
The only public transportation option is to take the 59K minibus from Lin Ma Hang to Sheung Shui. And even though the minibus will stop in Lin Ma Hang, visitors are not allowed to get on the minibus from the village.
Since part of the access road to Lin Ma Hang falls within the closed area, you will have to walk west on Lin Ma Hang Road, pass the restricted zone and wait for the minibus after the Sheriff’s Department (see location).
If the main access road is guarded, you might have to hike the path parallel to the access road. I hiked on a weekday so I was able to walk across the road. But I also heard from other hikers that they were told to hike across the rough hiking path.
So it all depends if the Chinese guard is monitoring the road. So try not to finish the day too late in case you do have to hike the path to catch the minibus.
- Minibus 59K: from Sheriff’s Department on Lin Ma Hang Road to Sheung Shui MTR Station
- Time: 40 minutes (every 30 minutes)
- Cost: $9.1HKD (use Octopus Card)
- Check: 16Seats website for 59K minibus schedule and other info
Are you ready to explore Lin Ma Hang Cave and trek the Robin’s Nest hike?
I’ve never seen a cave in Hong Kong before so it was definitely an eye-opener for me. Plus, the views around Robin’s Nest and Hung Fa Chai are just some of the best in the city.
If you are adventurous and enjoy off-the-beaten-trails, then you must hike the trails around Robin’s Nest and Lin Ma Hang Cave. Let me know if you are going and if you have any questions. Leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading my Lin Ma Hang Cave hiking post
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