Mount Davis (摩星嶺) is a 269m tall mountain on the west side of Hong Kong Island. It is an old military site with many war ruins including five gun emplacements, ammunition stores, and accommodation buildings. Built in the early 20th century, the westernmost hill served as the headquarters of Western Fire Command where it was responsible for the defence of the west side of Hong Kong Island.
But Mount Davis Battery was heavily bombarded when the Japanese attacked the British troops during WWII. The British military destroyed all the equipment and surrendered. Today, you can see the ruins of Mount Davis Battery during your hike up the peak.
But even if you are not a history buff, you can still enjoy the Mount Davis hike. It is an easy and short trek up the westernmost hill via a paved road. On the way down, you can either retrace your steps or descend down a challenging path towards Kennedy Town.
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What you need to know before starting the Mount Davis hike
Before you start hiking up Mount Davis, take a look at my Hong Kong solo travel guide and get an overview of HK first.
Here are a few additional tips for hiking Mount Davis in Hong Kong:
- The best time for the Mount Davis hike is late autumn, winter and early spring. But if you are keen, you can also hike Mount Davis on a cooler summer day.
- The Mount Davis HK hike is pretty easy and you don’t require too much hiking equipment. But if you are hiking down the challenging route to Kennedy Town, wear a good pair of hiking shoes.
- Get an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard for taking public transportation and use it for taking the MTR to and from Kennedy Town. 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 Mount Davis hike, download “Hiking Trail HK” app on your smartphone since Google Maps does not show the challenging descent down to Kennedy Town. But if you follow my itinerary and see the attached map below, you will have all the necessary information.
How to hike Mount Davis in Hong Kong
Start hiking Mount Davis by walking up Mount Davis Path on Victoria Road. The road zigzags up the mountain and will take you all the way to the summit of the mountain.
To hike back down Mount Davis, either take the easy routes by either retracing your steps or take the stairway shortcuts back to the Victoria Road, or hike down a rugged path down to Kennedy Town.
Click on “more options” on the top left corner of Google Maps and the map will open in your browser or in the app on your smartphone. It will show you the hike via Mount Davis Path.
I also included an elevation profile for the hike up via Mount Davis Path and the rugged path down to Kennedy Town.
- Difficulty: easy (but intermediate when you descend towards Kennedy Town)
- Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
- Distance: 2.5km
- What to bring: hiking shoes, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), water, snacks, smartphone (for taking photos and navigation)
How to get to the start of the Mount Davis hiking trail
From anywhere in Hong Kong, take the subway to Kennedy Town MTR Station and walk 25 minutes to the start of the trail. This is the route along Victoria Road.
Or you can take one of many public transportation options. There are options including bus 1, 54, 54S, 58, 58A, 58M, 59, 43M, 47P, 971, and A10. They either stop at the Felix Villas stop or Mount Davis Path stop on Victoria Road.
Visit the Jubilee Battery first
The first battery on Mount Davis is on the other side of Victoria Road, at the foot of Mount Davis.
From the entrance of the hike, cross Victoria Road and walk into The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus. At the railing overlooking the water, you can see the Jubilee Battery from above.
If you want to go further, keep right and walk around the railing and building. The stairway to the Jubilee Battery is on the left.
Hike up Mount Davis Path
Return to Mount Davis Path and start walking up the paved road. Be careful though – cars and motorcycles go up and down the road.
On the way up, the path splits. Keep left to continue up Mount Davis.
Soon after, you’ll see an abandoned public toilet on the left. On Google Maps, it is labelled 摩星嶺徑百年廢棄公廁. This was an actual bathroom facility from 100 years ago. But it is not in use. There are public toilets behind it.
And look for the sign just in front of the abandoned toilets. It points down to a stairway. This is the stairway shortcut back to Victoria Road. When you take the easy route back down to Victoria Road, you can walk down these staircases and it will take you back on the main road.
See the second gun emplacement
Keep hiking up the Mount Davis Path. When you see a pavilion on the right, you will find the second gun emplacement behind it. This is one of the five gun emplacements that protected Hong Kong Island’s Western districts during WWII.
And it looks like there are a few overgrown bushes and trees around the gun emplacement. It looks completely abandoned. But if you climb on top of it, you can see the entire structure.
Explore the side trails of Mount Davis hike
Even though the hike up to Mount Davis is as easy as following Mount Davis Path aka a paved road up the mountain, there are many side trails that you can explore.
When you see a sign with an arrow pointing up a set of staircases, walk up and see what is at the end.
Once you are at the top, you can see several abandoned structures. I’m not exactly sure what these are. Could they be the ammunition stores or accommodation buildings? But I think these might be further up the summit. Nonetheless, it was interesting to wander around and see the concrete structures. Little creepy, though.
See the third gun emplacement
Continue on the side trails until you get back on Mount Davis Path. Even though there aren’t any signs, the area is quite small, you really can’t get lost.
A little further up the paved road is the third gun emplacement. It looks like you need to climb over it and you can. But there is a path to walk right in if you walk another minute and turn left.
There seem to be more overgrown trees and bushes around the third gun emplacement. But the circular concrete structure is clear and visible.
Second sign for a shortcut to Victoria Road
Keep walking up Mount Davis Path. When you see a sign on the left pointing down, this is the second sign for the shortcut to Victoria Road.
If you want to take the easy route and take the shortcut stairway, walk down these stairs and it will end at Mount Davis Path. Then look for the first set of staircases and that will take you to Victoria Road.
See the fourth gun emplacement?
As you walk up Mount Davis Path, you will pass by the Mt Davis Youth Hostel on the left. Keep walking, and there are two paths: straight and right.
I took the right path (the straight path also goes up to the fifth gun emplacement), but when you take the path on the right, you can see several more abandoned buildings.
But before you climb up the flight of stairs, look back and see the Ionospheric Station. I climbed up a large concrete structure to take a photo of the Ionospheric Station.
It was only when I started to blog about my hiking experience that I realized I was standing on the fourth gun emplacement to take the photo of the Ionospheric Station. It wasn’t obvious to me – the other gun emplacements are hollow structures but the fourth gun emplacement is covered. I only knew this after doing a bit of research. So take note!
See the fifth gun emplacement
Walk up the flight of stairs from the covered gun emplacement and find more abandoned structures at the top. When you keep walking the path splits. The path to the left is the fifth gun emplacement. And the path straight ahead will lead you to the open field before the Mount Davis summit.
But if you are exploring the fifth gun emplacement, there is another way to the open field. The last gun emplacement might be the biggest and feels the least abandoned. Climb up and take a look around!
Find the summit of Mount Davis
Keep following the path, leading you to an open field. Walk across the open field toward the direction of High West Mountain (see photo below).
Before you reach the top, there are several more abandoned WWII buildings near the summit.
See WWII military buildings before the summit
After I turned left and wandered around the area, I just kept moving around to take photos of these abandoned war buildings. So I don’t have any specific directions. The area is quite big, so there is a lot to see.
Some military structures look like ammunition stores, accommodation buildings, and guardrooms. Other parts look like forts. Whatever they are, it feels like you are going back in time. And it doesn’t feel like you are in Hong Kong at all.
Hike to the summit of Mount Davis
Keep wandering around the abandoned buildings and you’ll see a warning sign in the middle of the path. Walk past the sign and you’ll see a red ribbon on a bamboo where the path leads up a small hill.
Hike up the hill and you’ll see the triangulation station. This is the summit of Mount Davis.
At 269m, the top of Mount Davis has a triangulation station and that’s about it.
But what is great about this spot is the panoramic view. The view faces the east direction and you can see Mount High West and Pok Fu Lam.
I also hiked up High West (not the same day) and was able to see Mount Davis from above. It is quite stunning. Take a look at the photo below. Maybe if you squint really hard, you can see the summit of Mount Davis!
An alternate way to descend Mount Davis in HK
After reaching the summit of Mount Davis, most hikers backtrack the entire route back to Victoria Road via Mount Davis Path or the shortcut stairway.
But if you are wearing proper hiking shoes and want a bit of an adventure, take the rugged descent down to Kennedy Town. This alternate path is called the Friends of Mount Davis Trail (摩星嶺之友徑).
The alternate path is shown as a light brown zigzag line Hiking Trail HK app. And while this path is not shown on Google Maps, all you need is this map (see below) since there is only way route that goes down the mountain.
Find the start of Friends of Mount Davis Trail
The start of Friends of Mount Davis Trail is beside the pavilion near the open field.
After a few minutes of walking, a barbecue area is on the left. When you stand at the railing, you can see Victoria Harbour, Kennedy Town and parts of southern Kowloon.
Friends of Mount Davis Trail: the descent starts off easy
I found the Friends of Mount Davis Trail because I was wandering around (like I always do). And the trail looked pretty easy. The trail started off with a stone path then gradually led to a more rugged path but still really easy.
Plus, there were views along the way. All and all, the start of the descent was quite pleasant.
Then the trail gets a bit more challenging
About maybe 15 minutes into the descent, the trail becomes more and more challenging.
The trail becomes rougher. There are wooden bridges that look rickety and dangerous (but it’s not so bad). And the descent became increasingly steep.
When you arrive at the bottom of the steep descent, turn left and continue hiking down.
FYI – you will see grey signs along the trail as you hike down. The signs have the logo “Lions Club of Mount Davis” in Chinese. It points in the direction of where you need to go.
But to be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure about the correlation between Friends of Mount Davis Trail and the Lions Club of Mount Davis. I tried to look up English and Chinese but didn’t find much. But it is the right way.
Keep hiking down the rugged path
After turning left at the perpendicular junction, continue hiking down the path to Kennedy Town. The trail is a bit rough but nothing too dangerous.
And in no time, the path opens up. At this point, you can see an aerial view of Kennedy Town including all the high-rises in the background and the Kennedy Town Service Reservoir Playground in the foreground.
Descend to Kennedy Town MTR Station
Take a minute and enjoy the view of Kennedy Town – it is quite breathtaking!
When you are ready, walk down the staircase on the right and it will lead you directly to the playground. Then find the path on the other side of the playground – this route will lead you through a tarmac road and a series of staircases until you reach Smithfield Road. Kennedy Town MTR Station is right on Smithfield Road.
FYI – There are multiple ways to descend the mountain to Kennedy Town, which is how I hiked down. If you are unsure, use Google Maps to navigate as all the roads and stairways beyond the playground are shown on the map.
So are you taking the easy or adventurous route for the Mount Davis hike?
The Mt Davis hike is really easy if you start from Victoria Road, hike up to the summit and retrace your steps back to the main road.
But if you are adventurous and want a more challenging route down Mount Davis, follow the signs and hike down to Kennedy Town and take the MTR there.
But either route is fun and only takes a few hours to complete. Definitely consider hiking Mount Davis when you are visiting Hong Kong.
And if you are looking for other easy hikes in HK, try Victoria Peak hike, Mount High West, Red Incense Burner Summit on Braemar Hill, Cape Collinson hike, Tsing Yi Nature Trails, Ma Shi Chau Nature Trail or Tai Tan Country Trail.
Other Hong Kong hikes you might be interested:
- Dragon’s Back Hike: the most popular day hike in Hong Kong
- Mount Nicholson Hike: see hidden rock statues in the middle of HK Island
- Violet Hill and the Twins: hike over two mountains with over 1,000+ steps
- Rhino Rock Hike: see a rocky rhinoceros head in Stanley
- Pineapple Mountain: the Great Canyon of HK
- Lamma Island: hike from Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan
- High Junk Peak: one of three sharpest peaks in Hong Kong
- Ma On Shan Hike: hike across the horse-saddle mountain to Sai Kung
- Pat Sin Leng Hike: hike over 8 peaks named after Chinese Mythological immortals
- Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail: hike around Hong Kong’s largest reservoir
- Kowloon Peak and Suicide Cliff: see Hong Kong’s most dramatic cliff
- Po Pin Chau: hike around hexagonal rock columns in Sai Kung
- Tung O Ancient Trail: hike the coastal trail in Lantau North Country Park
- Lo Yan Shan hike: hike Chi Ma Wan Country Trail in southern Lantau Island
- Trio Beach hike: see a secret beach and rocky headland in Sai Kung
- Tsing Yi Peak: hike the three peaks on Tsing Yi Island
- Fan Lau hike: explore the southwest tip of Lantau Island
- Po Toi Island: see Hong Kong’s South Pole
- Robin’s Nest Hike and Lin Ma Hang Cave: explore northern HK near the Shenzhen border
- Kai Kung Leng: hike the Rooster Ridge in Lam Tsuen Country Park