Niche hiking trails, locations in SZ

From: Shenzhen Daily

The soothing sunshine, fragrant air, merit birds chirping, lush greens and vibrantly blooming flowers are among the invitations from nature, luring people for a pleasant walk. Keep the following list handy that maps out some of the less crowded routes and destinations in Shenzhen, and make a plan for an outdoor weekend.

Meilin Mountain Hiking Trail, Futian

One of the entrances of Meilin Mountain Hiking Trail. Yang Mei

Of all the ideal destinations for a city break in Shenzhen, Meilin Mountain Hiking Trail is without any doubt a hidden gem in Futian’s CBD area. The entrances of the trail, one at the rear Meilin Mountain and the other at Mei’ao Road 8, lie in the easily reached Meilin area in Futian. Stretching from Meilin to the peak of Danaoke Hill, the 2.2km-long footpath takes around two hours to finish, passing through the lush woods and mild slopes on Meilin Mountain before reaching the peak of Danaoke Hill that offers splendid panoramic views of Luohu, Futian and Nanshan districts.

A view of Meilin Mountain Hiking Trail. Yang Mei

Besides its accessibility and impressive peak view, Meilin Mountain Hiking Trail also stands out as the city’s first mountain track built following the trending Leave No Trace (LNT) principle. Founded in 1994, LNT holds the idea that a good wilderness steward should leave nothing behind but footprints. With this philosophy, the ecologically sustainable trail was built mainly with natural materials found in the area, earth, stones and timber from the falling trees, rather than concrete or granite, in an effort to reduce the impact of construction on the environment to a minimum level.

Well-marked paths and resting areas mean it can be tackled alone or with families. Some sections of the trail are easy and friendly enough for children as young as 6.

Taojinshan Greenway, Luohu

A view of Taojinshan Greenway. File photo

Some Luohu residents deem Taojinshan Greenway as a secret garden of the district. Tucked in a valley to the west of Shenzhen Reservoir, the 7.07km-long trail offers easy broad paths as well as moderate hill treks. In spring time, it is a haven for joggers, families and weekend strollers.

Taojinshan Greenway starts at Cuihu community park, passes Buxin Hill and a former patrol route for border guards, and ends at Shawan Road. It is one of the few parks in Shenzhen that is fully covered by a public Wi-Fi network. Other highlights of the waterfront park include telescopes at different view decks, a playground for children and pavilions of different styles.

Walking along the well-paved paths that wind through the flourishing woods and abundant flowers, visitors can also expect an excellent view of Fairy Lake Botanical Garden and Hongfa Temple, Wutong Mountain and even Longgang District in the distance.

Jiangang Hill, Bao'an

An aerial view of Jiangang Hill in Bao'an District.

The name of Jiangang Hill in Xingdong, Bao’an, sounds unfamiliar even to some longtime dwellers in the neighborhood. Standing at an altitude of 203 meters, the hill is not at all striking. However, if one climbs up the approximately 1,000 steps stairway that leads to the top of the hill, one might be stunned by the the unfolding view.

On the top of the hill stands a temple-like compound in the middle of a large well-manicured lawn. The temple remains “mysterious” to visitors because there is no introduction about it and little information can be found on the internet. Even frequent visitors say they never saw the door open, let alone visited it. Standing in front of the serene hill-top compound and enjoying a dominating view of the neighborhood is a relaxing experience.

A 100-meter-long wooden corridor goes around the temple, serving as a place for rest as well as a viewing deck, from which visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Bao’an. Make sure you stop at the viewing decks on the way down to the hill; you will be amazed by the views of a sprawling villa and residential compound at the foot of the hill.

A walk to the top of the hill takes around half an hour, and the well-marked tracks make sure it is an easy and relaxing stroll. However given the fact that it lacks shade trees for sunshine shelter on the trail, it might be best to slap on some sunscreen, and it wouldn’t hurt to bring along some water and mosquito repellent.

Enshang Reservoir park

Tucked half way up the southern slope of Wutong Mountain, the Enshang Reservoir park is no doubt an under-appreciated destination overlooked by most Wutong Mountain hikers. Frequent visitors are mostly residents from the neighborhood, who value the quiet park as their backyard retreat.

A view of the grassland in the Enshang Reservoir park. Yang Mei

The uphill hiking footpaths wind gently along Wutong Mountain. Main attractions in the park include a vast grassland with ancient trees standing on it, the Enshang Reservoir park with an open view, and an S-shaped road facing the sea, all perfect settings for Instagram-like photos. The park also offers choices of easy broad paths and moderate hill tracks. For hikers who opt for a calorie-burning experience, choose the footpaths that wind into the woods. They will lead you to the top of Wutong Mountain.

Yantian Port is visible in the distance along the route leading to the Enshang Reservoir. Yang Mei

Avid travel bloggers like to compare the park to Kenting National Park in Taiwan, dubbing it as “Little Kenting” for its commanding views along the route extending from the busy Yantian Port close by to the vast seas in the distance. 

A view of the Enshang Reservoir. Yang Mei

The trip can be refreshing even in sunny spring days because the mild sea wind can easily cool one down. If you have time, stay until sunset and gasp at how the colors of nature change with the light from grayish blues to yellows, oranges and reds.

OCT Wetland Park

A path leading to a bird-watching house in the OCT Wetland Park. Wang Haolan

Located in the Shahe Subdistrict of Nanshan District, the OCT Wetland Park, an integral part of the Shenzhen Bay coastal wetland ecosystem, is the city’s first national-level wetland park. Covering a total area of 685,000 square meters, including about 500,000 square meters of water, the OCT Wetland Park has nearly 50,000 square meters of mangrove wetland.

A peaceful view of the OCT Wetland Park.  Wang Haolan

OCT Wetland Park offers excellent opportunities to see and listen to a variety of birds. It serves as an important stopover and habitat for migratory birds during the wintertime.The best season for bird-watching here is from October to April, when flocks of birds migrate from the north to inhabit the wetlands.Tens of thousands of migratory birds, including the endangered black-faced spoonbills, can be found in the park.

There are a number of bird-watching platforms in the park, with Pianyingxuan being the most popular one. The wood cabin with windows facing three most-visited wetlands by birds offers shelter for birdwatchers in scorching summer days.

The park is not only a haven for birds and birders, but also an open classroom of natural sciences for students. Different lectures and workshops are held from time to time by various schools and organizations.

The park opens free to visitors upon reservation. Only 200 visitors are allowed each day. Bookings are available at, or through the WeChat account of the park: 华侨城湿地.

Neilingding Futian Nature Reserve

A flock of black-tailed godwit are seen taking a rest in the Neilingding Futian Nature Reserve. Wang Haolan

Neilingding Futian Nature Reserve might be the best kept secret garden in the city. Even some of the earliest city dwellers have no idea that there is a national-level nature reserve hidden in Futian District. The good news is that the Shenzhen Mangrove Birdwatching Corridor, located at the No. 1 and 2 fish pond areas of the reserve’s Futian mangrove forest section, was recently opened to the public.

The nature reserve has a history of 33 years and is comprised of two parts, Neilingding Island and the Futian mangrove forest section. Covering 367 hectares, the reserve is the only and the smallest national nature reserve harbored in a city center in China. The reserve is also a habitat for migratory winter birds, attracting more than 100,000 birds each year.

Two black-faced spoonbills forage in the Neilingding Futian Nature Reserve. Yang Mei

Visitors can make reservations through the WeChat miniprogram “内伶仃福田自然保护区” to get access to the corridor. But the real challenge lies in the part of making a booking for entrance. The reserve accepts only 40 bookings each day, and the waitlist is usually more than one-week long.

The highlight of the reserve is a floating viewing deck sitting at the end of the reserve’s open area. The deck offers the best views for bird-watching and sightseeing, with views of Shenzhen Bay on the right and the coastlines of Hong Kong on the left. A wood walkway connects all the viewing decks in the reserve, with some stretching from the land into the sea.

Qiushui Hill Park

A 380-meter-long Great Wall with four beacon towers is the feature of Qiushui Hill Park. Photos by

With a history of 24 years, Qiushui Hill Park in Longgang had its waning days, but is now taking off again as a popular weekend destination.

This is a park where visitors can have a taste of hiking on a Great Wall (though a very short one), and rejoice in the fun activities one can find in an amusement park: cableway, roller coaster, flying boat surfing, space shuttle, pirate ship, bumper cars, etc.

The park’s feature is a 380-meter-long Great Wall with four beacon towers that winds its way to the top of the 253-meter-tall Qiushui Hill. The wall was built to scale along the mountain shape modeled after the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing. Don’t underestimate the challenges of the trail. In some sections, the trail slopes upward at an angle of 70-80 degrees, which could make ascending to the top of the hill huffing and puffing for many casual visitors.

But the challenges come to an end just when one is about to break down and give up. However, don’t stop at the place where the ascending Great Wall ends. Walk along the mountain trail for a few more minutes and you will find a hill-top square awaiting that provides you with rewarding views. From this viewing deck, visitors can have a panoramic view of Longgang District and the Shenzhen Reservoir.

Riding the cableway is the choice of many to descend the hill. The ride takes less than five minutes, just enough for one to take a breath and take pleasure in the greenery and city views unfold beneath.

Shangwei Art Village

A graffitti painting in Shangwei Art Village.

With a history of more than 400 years, Shangwei Village has been sitting quietly in Longgang for a long time. A rejuvenation project that began in 2016 brought a facelift to this typical Hakka-style village with the arrival of young artists and designers. Independent shops, workshops and studios popped up in lanes, and graffiti works sprung up on village walls, adding an artistic modern atmosphere to the ancient village.

The village is small in scale, and a half-an-hour tour is enough to explore the village by foot. The village is home to five 100-year-old watchtowers and nearly 50 ancient Hakka houses. Houses with traditional Hakka architectural features are well protected, and most original residents still live in the neighborhood as their ancestors did. While graffiti art captures the attention of many visitors at first glance, it’s the lively details, such as the fragrance of plants and lush greens in the delicate gardens along the lanes,a self-help store selling handicrafts and the small yet well-arranged museum that bring more pleasant surprises. The lively rural community is a delightful blend of ancient and modern.

Jingui Village

Visitors take a break on a balcony in Jingui Village.

This ancient Hakka village in Pingshan District formed 400 years ago is now one of the most popular camping destinations for young Shenzhen dwellers. The natural gifts that used to be known only to the dwellers in the hillside village, a clear running brook that run through the seven natural villages in the area, flat and fertile farmlands, and well-preserved ancient houses and lush woods, are now attracting smart investors who see the potential of this hidden gem as do avid holiday makers.

This is the place where you could find some of the most trending boutique guesthouses in the city. Starting a day with a trip into the woods along the brook in the morning, and later waiting for the sunset while sipping a cup of tea in a guesthouse is the typical way of spending a day in Jingui Village.

For outdoor fans, lodging options also include overnight camping in the woods. A flat and open lawn serves as a camping site here. Rent a tent, set up a camp fire and heat the barbecue grills; a camping night in Jingui Village can be a truly memorable experience. 

Keep the following list handy that maps out some of the less crowded routes and destinations in Shenzhen, and make a plan for an outdoor weekend.