Exploring Route Twisk

Hannah Grogan follows Route Twisk to the roof of Hong Kong.

Tai Mo Shan View

Route Twisk is a Hong Kong classic. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hikes of Hong Kong. The trails are numerous and plentiful but sometimes the guidebooks and magazines forget that a large number of folk in this fair city also like to get around on four wheels. So for the first of this new column, I thought I’d share my favourite Sunday drive for all the revheads out there.

What is it?

Located in the heart of the New Territories, Route Twisk is a mountainous road connecting Tsuen Wan to Shek Kong and on to Lam Tin. It crosses Tai Mo Shan Country Park, home to Hong Kong’s highest peak, aka Big Hat Mountain. Despite an altitude of 957m, this is no lonely summit: it is almost completely accessible by car and, even better, drivers do not require a country park permit. Good news for those of us who like to get out into the countryside without having to strap on hiking boots.

Where is it?

While the road is dotted with tempting barbecue and picnic sites, head for the big one at the top of Tai Mo Shan. Halfway up Route Twisk, take the turnoff onto Tai Mo Shan Road – part of Stage 8 of the MacLehose Trail. Follow the road uphill, past the visitors’ centre to a lookout point and car park. From there it’s a relatively short climb on foot to the weather station at the territory’s highest point.

When to go?

Choose a clear day when the views are at their most spectacular; from the top, there’s an almost 360-degree panorama of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, big chunks of the New Territories and Shenzhen. On clear-sky weekends you are unlikely to be alone, of course, and with motorists, cyclists and keen hikers all sharing the road, things can get hairy.

Why go?

There’s something for everyone on Route Twisk. Driving enthusiasts will get a kick out of the steep and winding road. Photographers will go bananas for some of the finest views in the territory. And there’s plenty of open grassed space for energetic kids so it’s perfect for families. Load the car with a picnic, deck chairs, the kids and maybe a kite or two for a great day out.

What’s in a name?

Built in the 1940s mainly for military use, Route Twisk linked Kowloon with the former Royal Air Force Sek Kong base, now the People Liberation Army’s Shek Kong Airfield. It takes its name comes from the initials of its route: Tsuen Wan Into Shek Kong.