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THE NGONG PING 360 RESCUE TRAIL (5.6kms)
The Ngong Ping 360 Emergency Rescue Trail is intended to provide access for maintenance and emergency rescue for the Ngong Ping 360 cable car system linking Tung Chung with Ngong Ping. It comprises a series of specially constructed concrete and stone footpaths, steps and timber boardwalks for a length of approximately 5.6kms. The trail passes across mountains, valleys, alongside the cable car towers, angle stations, helicopter landing pads and for much of the way runs directly under the path of the cable cars. The trail was also used by mules for transportation of materials during construction of the cable car system.
The trail is open to the public with the proviso that it is undertaken at your own risk. Whilst tackling the trail in the “uphill” direction from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping is fairly ardous the walk down from Ngong Ping is relatively easy and should be well within the capabilities of anyone who is a regular walker/hiker and provides a thoroughly enjoyable alternative method of reaching Tung Chung through some beautiful and spectacular scenery. From the start of the trail at Ngong Ping to Tung Chung Town Centre the walk can be completed in around three and a half hours at a fairly leisurely pace.
Since December 2008 the first stage of the trail from Ngong Ping has also become part of stage 4 of the Lantau Trail which has been permanently diverted following severe landslides resulting from Typhoon Hagupit during September 2008.
The trail starts from the service road below the cable car terminus at Ngong Ping. Since December 2008 the first part of the trail has also become part of stage 4 of the Lantau Trail which has been permanently diverted following landslides resulting from typhoon damage earlier in the year. You will see "Lantau Trail" direction signs at the start of the trail, about 50 metres along the service road directly under the cables and an information board detailing the route of the Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail. There are a series of marker posts (MP) along the trail at approx 200 metre intervals with post C30 marking the Ngong Ping end of the rescue trail and C00 marking the Tung Chung end.
The beginning of the trail follows the path of the cable car for about 200 metres to MP C29 before veering away to the right to follow the rim of a valley. There are good views of Ngong Ping and the Buddha to the right whilst to the left you can see Tower 7 as the trail undulates before soon reaching MP C25 where the diverted Lantau Trail forks away to the right. Nei Lak Shan (751m) is the hill to the right and the next part of the rescue trail from MP C29 to MP C25 was once shared with the 5km circular Nei Lak Shan Country Trail but this trail has also fallen victim to landslides and is now permanently closed and on reaching MP C25 a warning sign indicates where the now closed trail once branched off to the right.
Tower 6 and the Nei Lak Shan Angle Station are ahead and the trail now winds to the left and climbs up to rejoin the path of the cables. A long flight of steps leads up to Tower 6 and shortly beyond at MP C18 is the Angle Station, the highest point on the cable car route. Often at this point the roar of jet engines can be heard and to the left are steps leading up to a helicopter landing pad which on a clear day is an excellent vantage point for views of Hong Kong International Airport on the flattened island of Chek Lap Kok. The Angle Station is manned and you can stand next to the control room almost next to cable cars as they arrive and pause here briefly before continuing on their journey. The doors can be opened externally at the Angle Station and occasionally you will see staff leaving or joining an unoccupied car.
Just beyond the Angle Station is Tower 5 and the trail now descends fairly steeply before levelling out at MP C17 and continuing along a boardwalk. At around MP C16 the trail reaches Tower 4 where there is another helicopter landing pad and a little further along the trail is a warning barrier you must pass through indicating a steep trail ahead beyond which is a set of steep wooden steps which run part way down a valley, across a short boardwalk and then up the other side of the valley. Although steep (and slightly steeper than they actually appear in the accompanying photograph), there are handrails and these steps should be well within the capabilities of most relatively agile walkers. Power cables are visible alongside the steps and these cables do in fact run under the footpaths and boardwalks for most of the trail. Shortly past the top of the steep wooden steps is another barrier warning of a steep trail ahead. This in fact is a boardwalk which is inclined but not particularly steep although there are no handrails and care should be taken in wet weather.
The trail then starts to level out along a forested hillside and continues directly under the cables and along more boardwalks. You can often clearly hear voices of the occupants of the cable cars some distance above and it appears as though the cars are equipped with some kind of sound amplification system. At around MP C12 a panoramic view opens up and the airport and towering buildings of Tung Chung come into the distant view.
The cable cars above are now on a gentle descent towards Tower 3 and at MP C07 the trail reaches a set of steps which lead up to meet the cable cars at the tower above alongside which is another helicopter landing pad.
Tower 3 is the point where the cables cross Tung Chung Bay and the views from here are quite dramatic as the cars start their steep descent across the bay towards the terminus at Tung Chung. Meanwhile the trail leaves the path of the cable car veering sharply away to the right at MP C05 and descends steeply and rapidly down steps at the foot of which it joins the Tung Chung to Tai O coastal path at MP C00, the lower end of the trail. Their are nearly 3000 steps on this last bone jaring decent...so be prepared. But the views are worth it.
To get back to Tung Chung Centre from here follow this concrete footpath which shortly crosses a bridge over a river estuary. A backwards glance at this point illustrates how precariously Tower 3 appears to be perched high on the hillside above. The path continues over marshes past the Hau Wong Temple . Ignore the path on the left leading to the Lo Hon Monastery and Shek Mun Kap and carry straight forward. Soon the path runs parallel with the buildings of the Yat Tung Estate on the opposite side of the man made storm channel and the path shortly passes a well maintained shrine with its incense sticks, fruit and miniature statues. A few yards further on the path reaches a footpath and cycleway ( Yu Tung Road ) under an elevated walkway adjacent to Tung Chung Road , the main road across Lantau Island connecting the north coast with the south coast. This road is currently open only to authorised vehicles and has for several years been undergoing a major upgrade which is due for completion in early 2009.
On reaching the footpath go left keeping under the elevated walkway leading to a footbridge directly ahead. On reaching the foot of the steps leading up the bridge is a tourist information sign.
(The remains of the historic Tung Chung Fort are just across the bridge and if time permits it’s worth making the short diversion across the footbridge. If you do visit the fort go back over the bridge afterwards to return to the footpath/cycleway).
Continue straight ahead along the footpath ignoring signs for the Tung Chung Art Walk and the Yat Tung Estate on the left, continue over the next elevated walkway (which carries the path over a wide dual carriageway Shun Tung Road) and about 500 metres further on just past a large road sign (for Tsing Yi and Tung Chung North) outside the Lantau North Divisional Police Station go down the subway and follow the yellow path. On emerging from the subway is a sign for the MTR Station. Follow the direction of this sign and then go down the first set of steps on the left. Carry on straight forward through the Fu Tung Estate (Hueng Tung House is on the right) then follow the covered walkway which is opposite Hor Tung House. At the end of the covered walkway do not go down the subway, keep on the path to the left and in a few yards the MTR Station and Ngong Ping 360 Tung Chung Terminus are visible just ahead.
To return to Kowloon and Hong Kong Island from Tung Chung either take the MTR from Tung Chung MTR Station or for a much more scenic journey take the E11 (Hong Kong Island) or E21 (Kowloon) bus from either outside the Fu Tung Shopping Centre or outside the cable car terminus.