Take a good long walk in the countryside, starting close by to the Ming Tombs in Changping, and finishing over the ranges near Huairou District. We’ll walk on old service roads and terrace trails beside the train tracks, pay a brief visit to a tiny village, and finish up with a long walk through the orchards that fill the slopes of the hills opposite the Big Black Mountain. Around 13km of mostly moderately difficult walking, with a few quick scrambles up and down hill trails.
This stretch of Great Wall in Yanqing County is extremely picturesque, and seldom visited, but its steepness can prove difficult for casual hikers. On this visit we’ll do the ‘middle route,’ cutting out the toughest parts to make it a little easier. There are still some steep climbs to do, but overall this hike isn’t long enough to rate as difficult – we’ll take our time climbing up and down and make sure that we have a relaxed and enjoyable visit.
The Mutianyu Great Wall is a well known tourist attraction, and the majority of visitors get up and down via cable car. There are more interesting ways to get up there, and this hike is one of them!
Starting from a place called the Lotus Pond, we’ll follow a hidden hill trail to join the unrestored wall east of the park area. We’ll pass through several towers on the way to the main Mutianyu section, and then walk a good stretch of the restored wall there before heading down the hill for a late lunch at our favourite local restaurant. This hike is a good opportunity to compare restored and unrestored sections of the Great Wall.
Take a stroll through valleys and past villages on the way to a seldom-visited stretch of Great Wall nestled in the hills north of the Ming Tombs. We’ll follow the wall up and along a ridge, detouring through orchards to get around a cliff face before rejoining the wall and following it on to make a circuit of the Little West Lake. When we’re done walking we’ll head to a nearby restaurant for a late lunch of Chinese food, and will have the option to take a quick look at a different section of Great Wall before heading back to the city.
The Great Wall Spur hike has us visiting a very nice stretch of unrestored Great Wall, but it’s quite a tough climb up a big hill before we set foot on top.
On this version of the hike, getting up on to the wall is a little easier, and we spread out the climb to the high point over a longer distance. We also walk a short stretch of wall that we pretty much only visit as part of our steep and difficult Chinese Knot hike.
On this hike we’ll head out to a beautiful section of the Great Wall that is further outside the city than the crowded main tourist sites, and much quieter. You’ll have a chance to hike along an unrestored section of the Great Wall that grants magnificent views of the Great Wall stretching beyond the horizon in the east and west. As we follow the wall, we’ll pass through restored and unrestored sections, as well as taking a nice detour through pines on a hillside trail. Warning – if you’re not good with heights, you might not enjoy sections of this hike.
We’ve been doing our Christmas Hike since 2004, and in 2013 the tradition continues! This year we’re going to do the scenic Jiankou to Mutianyu hike, and then head to our favourite Mutianyu restaurant for a big lunch. The hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu is a favourite of many, a good tough hike with great views of picturesque Great Wall. Parts of this hike are fairly difficult in the best of weather; during winter we may encounter some snow or ice on the trail – nice for photographs, but slippery underfoot, making this hike best suited for fit hikers with good hiking boots. After lunch, the annual dumpling-making contest, with prizes to be won!
(Want to do a Great Wall hike on Christmas Day? Try the Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall hike on Wednesday the 25th.)
Hike the Great Wall on Christmas Day! For this moderately challenging hike we’ll travel into the far northeast of Beijing Municipality. We’ll walk along a stretch of the Gubeikou Great Wall and end up at the Jinshanling Great Wall park after a long detour through the farmland surrounding Hemp Village. After a late lunch at our favourite restaurant at Jinshanling we’ll head back to Beijing. The cost of food, drinks, round-trip transportation, and park tickets is included in the price.
Regular Beijing Hikers: this is the shorter version of this route.
On this slightly tougher version of one of our nicest countryside walks we’ll take a look at the ‘Dragon and Phoenix’ pines at Zhuangdaokou, hike up a valley to a nearby stretch of Great Wall and follow an unrestored section up and along a ridgeline. On our way down, we’ll pass the Walled Village, and then head to a restaurant near the Huanghuacheng Great Wall for a big lunch.
Regular hikers: We usually call this hike “Zhuangdaokou Great Wall to the Walled Village”.
The Great Wall at Jinshanling is the type often seen on postcards: large, intact towers, and impressive stretches of wall that climb steep ridgelines. Parts of the Jinshanling Great Wall have been reconstructed and see quite a few visitors, but with a bit of hiking it’s possible to explore sections that are unrestored and not quite so commonly visited by tour groups.
On this hike, we’ll walk all of the eastern section of Jinshanling; hike a few towers of Simatai and maybe get a little look at what they’re doing over there (maybe open again!); and then backtrack a little to follow a paved park trail through the hills to finish.
Note: Today will be a working day for most, which means we shouldn’t see too many other hikers out at Jinshanling.
New Year Holiday Hike! This hike is a shortened version of our Nine-Eyes Tower trail, made easier by skipping the tough climb up to the top. We’ll follow hill trails through leafy valleys to get to Jiankou’s ‘Big West Wall’, and then walk south along the wall towards the Chinese Knot. This hike will still be fairly tough on a hot day, and there are some sections that are very steep and slippery.
New Year Holiday Hike! On this hike we will visit a remote stretch of the Great Wall that was completed around 1580 AD, during the reign of Emperor Wan Li. After a good long (some say tough) climb up a hillside trail we’ll follow the Great Wall along a ridge, enjoying great views the whole way. There is plenty of Great Wall in this area, and on a clear day it is extremely picturesque. Price includes lunch after the hike.
Note: While rated a 3+, this hike is sort of a tough 3+ because of the long climb at the beginning.