Lion Rock Country Park is one of the three earliest country parks of Hong Kong. Designated on 24 June 1977, it covers a wide upland region set between North Kowloon and Shatin. The park borders on Kam Shan Country Park to the west by a boundary line on Tai Po Road, and commands a total area of 557 hectares. Lion Rock is a narrow mountain range stretching from east to west. The southern slopes are abrupt with thin vegetation. By contrast, the northern slopes are nourished by abundant streams, which in turn give rise to flourishing flora.
Just like the neighbouring Kam Shan Country Park, the geological age of Lion Rock Country Park dates back to the Upper Jurassic Period. Common granites of this region are Sung Kong, Cheung Chau and Ma On Shan Granites. Famous sights of Lion Rock Country Park include the monumental Lion Rock, Amah Rock made famous by its moving folk legend, and Beacon Hill which was once the site of a hilltop signal station. Although not very sizeable, the park boasts some of Hong Kong's best loved trails, including major hiking trails like the MacLehose Trail and Wilson Trail that pass through the uplands, and the more docile Eagle's Nest Nature Trail and Hung Mui Kuk Nature Trail.
Lion Rock, the peak which gives the park its name, is a key attraction. This magnificent range is a witness to Hong Kong's legendary development from a fishing village to an international metropolis. The 495 m mountain is characterized by rugged escarpments on the west side. Viewed from a distance, it resembles a lion sitting regally with its head facing west, as if to keep Hong Kong in safe guard. Lion Rock Lion Rock is edged by traditional stone trails both on the east and west sides. The trail in the west, restored by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department staff to provide an easy route to the summit, winds up to Lion Rock Pass from Wang Tau Hom. The ancient trail in the east crosses over Shatin Pass Road and links Tsz Wan Shan in Kowloon with Tsok Pok Hang in Shatin. Back in the Qing Dynasty, these stone trails were communication mainlines between Shatin and Kowloon.
Lion Rock Country Park has two famous wild fauna : Black-eared Kite (Milvus migrans) and Longtailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis). The former is a migrating bird common in Asia and Australia. It is an excellent scavenger feeding on animal carcasses, rubbish and dead fish in the harbour. In Eagle's Nest, a richly vegetated peak inside Lion Rock Country Park with dense pine forests, the number of eagle's nests tops the surrounding coastal uplands. The woodland near Tai Po Road, on the other hand, are a monkey domain. Macaques roaming wild in the region today are not wild, but descendants of pet monkeys released in the 1920's. They are aggressive animals and may attack humans, particularly during the mating season or when they feel their youngs are threatened. Visitors should approach them with caution and never feed these animals.
From Tai Po Road, rolling uplands extend northeasterly to Shatin Pass. The northern slopes are extremely rich in flora. With a good distribution of river valleys and waterways, this natural terrain is superb habitat for a wide range of wildlife. Equally privileged, nearby Kam Shan Country Park is also a wildlife haven with four reservoirs and many exuberant hill streams. Together, the two parks boast an impressive record of wild birds. The forests around Eagle's Nest and Amah Rock are literally a birds' paradise, providing shelter and food to many bird species. Living alongside them are butterflies and dragonflies which find abundant food in the rich flora.
Most native trees and plants in the park were destroyed during the Japanese Occupation and in the early post-war years when a desperate demand for firewood led to widespread deforestation. Thanks to earnest woodland conservation and reforestation since 1947, Lion Rock is lush and green today.
Amah Rock is a small knoll above Hung Mui Kuk in Shatin. Rising about 250 metres above the sea, it is one of the hillocks of Lion Rock. This unusual rock is linked to a moving tale. A farmer left his wife and new-born son reluctantly to seek livelihood across the seas. Longing for her husband's return, the wife climbed up the hill everyday to look anxiously into the distance. Regrettably her husband never came back, for he had met with a fatal accident at sea. Hopeless and helpless, the young woman stood atop the hill day after day, until the gods showed pity and turned her into a rock statue to keep watch over the bay.
The Lion Rock Country Park Catchment Area is almost entirely level walk. The longest section of catchwater runs parallel with the northern borderline of the country park, and traverses the rolling hills south of Shatin. Beginning at Tai Po Road opposite Kowloon Reservoir, the 6 km catchment trail heads for Shatin Pass along foothills of the Kowloon Peaks. The beginning section is a pleasant tree-lined path with dense forests fringed by small groves of Elephant's Ear (Macaranga tanarius) and ferns. Macaques are often seen running in the woodlands.
Beacon Hill (453 m) to the west of Lion Rock, also known as Smoke Mound, was once a smoke signal station. Some say in the Qing Dynasty, villagers sent out warning signals from the hill to alert defending troops of pirates or invading enemies. Another version of Beacon Hill's origin is that it was a hilltop weather signal station. This is more relative to present day reality as the Hong Kong Observatory has set up a meteorological station here. To commemorate Hong Kong's reunification with China, the government has built a Reunification Pavilion on Lion Rock for the benefit of hikers and sightseers. Set on the mid-slope of Lion Rock, it offers unobstructed vistas of Kowloon Peninsula.