A Scenic Overlook Not To Be Missed – Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
Fast Facts – Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
As a parent, I find life is more routine than before we had kids. We wake up bright and early each day at around 5:00 AM – Peri is undeniably an early bird. And then we’re usually all up and running at full speed by about 5:30 AM, on the weekends too. We get started EARLY, and certainly not by choice, but that’s kids for ya! And, we frequent the same small hiking trail in our neighborhood nearly every afternoon. We nap at nearly the same time each day, and the list goes on. And in many ways, I like the regularity of life with kids. It’s rhythmic in a sense, and the rhythm is soothing. But at times I also find myself searching for relief from the regularity, and that’s where the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike comes into play, but more about that in a moment.
Wanderlust And Kids
Now that we have two children, and in particular two young ones, the frequency at which I experience the thrill of exploring something new is much lower than in the past and than my ideal. And don’t worry, I know this is a “woe is me,” first-world type of problem, but nevertheless, I still crave more spontaneity and exploring than my young kiddos currently can handle. And, I know as they get older, things will balance out more, so I’m really not worried, and I’m also in no rush to speed through their priceless childhood. I’m excited for our future as a family, but I savor the Now.
So for me, and more accurately, for me and Julia, the question has become, how can we keep scratching our wanderlust itch while simultaneously honoring the rhythm of our children’s lives? One of the answers we’ve found is the staycation. And that is exactly how we came to experience the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike.
Exploring Our Own Backyard
Roughly speaking, Hong Kong is 50 km east to west and 40 km north to south. For our staycation, we chose a great value hotel over on the Gold Coast located about 25 km from our home. In Hong Kong terms, we were on the other side of the world. And since we’ve only briefly explored Hong Kong’s Gold Coast, it really felt that way. One place that was new to us was the Thousand Island Viewpoint located in the Tai Lam Country Park (大欖郊野公園).
If you’d like to hike this on your own or with your family, below we’ve got all the details you need to do just that. If you’ve got older kids who are up for a more intense route to the Thousand Islands Lake Viewpoint and beyond, we’ve got details about that too.
Want To Hike With Us?
Let Us Guide You On Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
While the Thousand Island hike route is not a particularly difficult one, we realize that sometimes (and especially with kids in tow) the logistics of getting to and from the trailhead, navigating while you’re on the trail, and making sure you’ve got all the right gear can all be obstacles between you and your family actually getting out into the great outdoors.
If you can relate (and we certainly can), we’d be glad to guide you on the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike. To schedule a hike, feel free to either get in touch here or click below.
Questions Or Comments?
And as always, if you have any comments or questions about all this, feel free to leave us a comment below, and we’ll get back to you in a flash.
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Getting To And From Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
Using Public Transit
Our route begins at So Kwun Wat Lee Uk Tsuen. Second only to taking a taxi/Uber directly to this point, public transit is the easiest way to get here. We love the City Mapper app (iOS/Android) for finding the best way to transit around Hong Kong, so we recommend you download it, and use it to get to the start of our route. Most likely, your journey here will include a green minibus.
Taking A Taxi/Uber
It’s no surprise that taking a taxi or Uber directly to So Kwun Wat Lee Uk Tsuen is the easiest way to get here. We use the HK Taxi App (iOS/Android) to request our taxis, and we usually get one quite quickly.
Driving and Parking
Since the nearest parking to the trailhead is about 2 km away, if you do drive here, you’ll likely need to use public transit or an Uber/taxi to get you right to So Kwun Wat Lee Uk Tsuen. The two nearest parking lots are the Hong Kong Gold Coast I Car Park and the Gold Coast Piazza Car Park.
Also, while we do not endorse parking illegally along S Kwun Wat Tsuen Road (the road you’ll walk along at the beginning of our route), we did see a number of cars parked illegally along the road. Further, on both our way in and out we noticed that none of them had been ticketed, and we’re pretty sure none had been towed. But again, parking on this road is indeed not allowed…
Gear For Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
This is not an intense hike. It’s entirely on roads and well-maintained dirt paths. If you choose the family-friendly option, option 1 below, you will be in shaded terrain most of the time. If you choose the more challenging option that is only suitable for families with teens, option 2 below, you’ll need some sun protection.
Even option 1 is 7.2 km round-trip, so you’ll also need a good bit of water, especially in the summer months. But beyond that, your basic day hiking gear is all you’ll need for the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike.
Below are the items we bring, so if you bring these too, you should be good to go.
- Water Bottle(s)
- Rain/Wind Jacket
- Hiking Shoes
- Hiking Socks
- Sun Protection
- Baby Backpack (optional)
- Baby Carrier (optional)
- Camera/Lens (optional)
For cooler months, bring 1.5 liters per person. For warmer ones, bring at least 2 liters per person. We like Hydro Flasks because they are sturdy and reusable. They are also insulated.
It’s always nice to have a layer that can keep you a bit warm and/or dry. Enter our Marmot PreCip jackets. They are lightweight, so it’s a no-brainer to bring them even on day hikes.
We were comfortable doing the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike in hiking shoes. Unless you know you need extreme amounts of ankle support, leave your boots at home for this hike. Trail runners would also be fine.
As crazy as it may sound, we hike in wool socks year-round. They help prevent blisters, as they help keep your feet dry. Short and thin ones in the warm months and long and thick ones in the cooler ones keep our feet happy!
Again, if you choose option 1 for the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike, you really won’t need much sun protection. However, if you choose the more challenging option 2, we recommend sun cream at least, and ideally all the items below.
Baby Backpack (optional)
Peri hiked about 3 km of the route, but the entire 7.2 km was too much for him. Naturally, we brought our Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier.
It’s durable, and comfortable, and without it, we simply couldn’t go on as many outdoor family adventures as we do with such a little tot as Peri.
Baby Carrier (optional)
And on the topic of little tots, Kai is nowhere near walking yet, so Julia our supermom carried Kai in our LILLEbaby Airflow carrier the entire way. He may seem small, but after hours of him strapped to you, he really gets quite heavy.
Again, without this carrier, getting outdoors with Kai would be much more difficult. This model in particular is made of mesh, so it’s perfectly cool for Hong Kong.
We love taking photos, and if you do too, make sure to bring your camera along. Below is our setup. It’s versatile, durable, and weatherproof. What more could you ask for?
NOTE: As bringing both is redundant, we bring either the 35mm prime lens or the 24-105mm zoom lens, and the a7 II E-mount is the only body we own.
Difficulty, Distance, Duration, And Elevation Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
As we mentioned above, we cover two different options for doing the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike. Both start at So Kwun Wat Lee Uk Tsuen, and both follow along the Maclehose Trail Section 10 for a while.
Both will take you to the Thousand Island Viewpoint where you’ll get the best views of the Thousands Islands Lake. And both meander for a while up a paved road. If you’re lucky, you may encounter some goats on the road!
However, option 1 is the only one suitable for all families. It goes to the Thousand Island Viewpoint and then back.
A More Challenging Option
Option 2 is markedly more challenging, goes to the Thousand Island Viewpoint, Three Diamond Rocks, and the Sweet Gum [Tree] Stand, and is only suitable for families with teens who are well-seasoned hikers.
All the details about each option are below, so read on!
Option 1: Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike [The Blue Line]
Kids Can Hike Some Or All Of It
We hiked this trail with Peri and Kai, and although by the end of the day our feet were a bit sore, we weren’t dead tired. It starts out on a road and isn’t particularly scenic in the beginning.
There is even a convenient changing table!
And a spot for some nursing!
In total, Peri hiked about 3 km of the 7.2 km route. He loves “fun hiking” up the stairs.
He’s also always keen to stop and play in nature. We strike a balance between letting him play and making our way down the trail.
Eventually he asked to go in the pack, so I put him into our Osprey baby backpack.
Kai on the other hand isn’t yet walking at all, so Julia, again our supermom, carried Kai the entire time in our LILLEBabay carrier.
Mellow Terrain And Spectacular Views
If you’re willing to carry your kids on this hike (or on a part of it), it’ll give you a nice workout, but not a killer one. Also, the terrain consists of mostly paved roads and well-maintained stairs, so even Peri was able to hike a good bit of it himself.
And again, the views of Thousand Island Lake from the final viewpoint are spectacular, so they make all the effort well worth it. From high atop the Thousand Island Viewpoint, we were able to gaze down upon the turquoise blue water of the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) and of course, the many islands peppered throughout it. Looking eastward, we were able to see the ocean and westward we could see Tai Mo Shan. For a route that we didn’t find massively challenging, we found the views from the viewpoint very rewarding.
This route starts and ends in the same place. Therefore, you’ll walk one way, and then retrace your steps back home.
While the elevation profile makes option 1 look quite challenging, it’s only because of the graph’s scale. While it is more or less a gentle uphill all the way to the viewpoint, it is indeed gentle.
Option 2: Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike, Three Diamond Rocks, And Sweet Gum Stand [The Red Line]
Option 2 is markedly more challenging, more scenic, and also covers more ground. It also assumes you’ll be hiking at a faster pace thus the time estimate of only 3 hours yet 10.2 km. In any case, if you do choose this option, you’ll get some beautiful views that option 1 does not include. In particular, you’ll see Thousand Islands Reservior from even more up on high.
You’ll also get to see Three Diamond Rocks.
And in general, you’ll simply get to see some more beautiful scenery of the New Territories, including views of both Tai To Yan and Kai Kung Leng.
You’ll also get to see the Sweet Gum [Tree] Stand, where in the fall, the foliage on the maple trees turns fiery shades of red, orange and yellow.
This route also starts in So Kwun Wat Lee Uk Tsuen, but it ends in Tai Tong Tsuen. It begins on the same road as option 1, but instead of going to the Thousand Island viewpoint in the most direct fashion, it instead first goes around to Three Diamond Rocks, and then to the viewpoint. Also, instead of turning around at the viewpoint and retracing your steps back home, option 2 continues onward.
Again, option 2 is quite a bit harder than option 1. There is also a really steep section with lots of loose dirt, so go slow and take your time.
Download Our Route Map – Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island Hike
If you do decide to do the Thousand Islands Reservoir hike, you’ll want a map of our route. Below, you can download the map file for both option 1 and option 2, but you’ll need the Guru Maps app (iOS/Android) or another mapping app to open up the file.
We reviewed the Guru Maps app for offline navigation since we love it so much, and we highly recommend you download it. Also in our review, you’ll find some free instructional videos on how to use our favorite features of the app.
To do download our route and use it in Guru Maps, follow these simple steps.
1. Download Guru Maps (iOS/Android). If you want to purchase the pro version, get in touch with us, and we’ll send you a discount code.
2. Click on the KML, GPX, or GeoJSON links here or in the top right-hand corner of the map below.
3. Once the map file has finished downloading, open it in Guru Maps, and you’ll have our route map in your pocket. It’s that easy!
And, if you’re more familiar with other mapping options, we’ve got you covered.
Other Family-Friendly Adventures In Hong Kong
The Tai Lam Chung Reservoir (大欖涌水塘 千島湖) Thousand Island hike is just one of many outdoor family-friendly adventures in Hong Kong. While you’re up in the New Territories, consider hiking Ho Pui Reservoir and enjoying the tasty Indian/Pakistani restaurant near the end. For something more mellow but culturally rich, enjoy this self-guided Tai Po walking tour. And, if you’re really keen for some adventure, and you don’t mind sweating a bit, consider hiking the Ng Tung Chai waterfalls.
And again, if you have any comments or questions about all this, feel free to leave them below, and we’ll get back to you!
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