Tai Mo Shan, which literally means "Big Hat Mountain," is the highest peak in Hong Kong. It is actually a 3,140-foot high volcanic outcropping located north of Tsuen Wan in Tai Mo Shan Country Park in the New Territories.
Nicknamed "Foggy Mountain" as it is covered in clouds almost daily, Tai Mo Shan remains a favorite destination among the adventurous because the summit evokes an ethereal atmosphere. When the mist (and pollution) clears, its peak offers spectacular views of the Northern and Western New Territories, as well as the Yuen Long and Pat Heung plains. You can even see Shekou and Shenzhen on clear days.
The mountain is made up of volcanic rocks that dates back to the Jurassic age. It is considered the coldest place in the territory with temperatures dropping to near freezing point during cold spells. During such occasions, frost occurs in the mountains which is a rare sight in sub-tropical Hong Kong.
Fed by rainwater (the highest in Hong Kong, with 30% more rain than other parts of the territory), the mountain is home to some of Hong Kong' most spectacular waterfalls including the series of cascades known as the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls.
Long Falls, a section of the Ng Tung Chai cascades, has the highest drop at 100 metres. Other popular sections are the Straggling-Hair Falls, Middle Falls and Well Falls. Following recent landslips, some sections of the path to Ng Tung Chai are now closed. Visitors should not attempt to travel through.
Tai Mo Shan is heavily forested particularly in the southeastern part but ends at the 550 metre contour due to climatic and geographic factors. Above this point, vegetation is dominated by shrubs and grasses.
More than 1500 species of plants have been recorded in Tai Mo Shan including native wild orchids, ferns, grasses and bamboos. The mountain is also home to a wild type of green tea, called mist or cloud tea, which grow on its slopes. Locals can still be seen harvesting the tea shoots for personal brewing.
Wildlife in the mountain includes several species of birds, rare snakes and butterflies. There are also feral dogs, feral cats, oxen and wild boars. Streams are also teeming with fishes and freshwater crabs.
Facilities include picnic sites with barbecue grills, a visitor centre and the Rotary Club Park, a park with viewing platform offering scenic vistas on clear days. There is a weather station on the top of the mountain.
There are many hiking trails in Tai Mo Shan Country Park. A good place to start is to take bus 51 from Tsuen Wan and get off at Tsuen Kam Country Park Management Centre.