Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.
|Day One main activities||Private bus to Bashang (4–5hrs), overnight in guesthouse.|
|Day Two main activities||Hike through “Hundred Flowers Valley” and “Lover’s Valley”, free time, dinner, bonfire.|
|Day Three main activities||Loop hike to “Spirit Wall” Mountain, private bus back to Beijing (4–5hrs).|
Sited on the junction of the Mongolian Plateau, the Inner Mongolia Grasslands, and the North China Plain, Bashang is a photogenic place of beauty with a cool climate and an interesting history.
The wide, flat Mongolian plateau slopes gently down towards the mountains north of Beijing, which provided an easy way for the raiding horsemen of Genghis Khan to get close to the city, and vice-versa for troops heading the other way. Consequently, the grasslands have been the site of many battles, from ancient dynasties up until the Second World War.
These days, the prairie is peaceful, home to nomads and grazing flocks of sheep and herds of cows.
With an average height of more than 1,300 metres above sea level, the grasslands on the plateau are higher than many of the mountains we hike while in Beijing. This means that the temperature is lower than that of Beijing: freezing cold in winter, but cool and refreshing in summer, with temperatures expected to be around 20°C during the daytime – about 10°C less than the expected temperatures in Beijing for the time of year that we will be visiting.
On this trip, you’ll explore the flowery grasslands and rolling hills on foot, and enjoy a bonfire, BBQ, and stargazing in the broad night skies.
Hundred Flowers Valley and Lover's Valley Loop
Setting out after breakfast on Saturday morning, we'll board the bus for a short drive from our guesthouse to get out into the hills.
The hike begins with a fairly easy walk up into a valley, before a short climb that crosses a low point on a ridge.
On the other side of the ridge we'll spot the new Seventh Ring Road, which has, unfortunately for us, been built right through the middle of the grasslands. We'll walk past it quickly, and will soon round a corner and leave the big road behind us.
The next part of the hike is another slow climb up on to a ridgeline, steady at the beginning, and a bit steeper as we reach the top. After a bit of a rest we'll be off again, following the ridgeline all the way up to a high point that's almost 2,000 metres above sea level. With the big road behind us, we'll have super views of the rolling hills of the grasslands as we walk through the grass and beside small forested areas.
The climb up to the high point is the toughest part of this hike, but it won't take too long, and you'll have a great reward—360° views of the grasslands.
The hike continues down the other side of ridgeline, passing through '100 Flowers Valley' as we get down into the farmland on the other side. At the right time of year the combination of wild flowers and the fields of buckwheat and canola is a beautiful sight!
Another long climb takes us up on to another ridgeline, and back to our Seventh Ring Road crossing. Our bus will be waiting for us there, and will take us back to the guesthouse for a huge lunch!
We'll ask our local guide to bring his two horses along in case anyone gets tired of hiking, and there are also options to make the hike a little shorter.
Hike statistics: Hundred Flowers Valley Loop
• Distance: 17km • Approx. 5 hours of hiking • Start/finish height: 1,564m • Total ascent/descent: 657m
Spirit Wall Mountain Loop
The hike begins with an easy walk into the foothills, but then we've got a big climb to get up on to the ridge.
We'll follow that ridge up to a cairn on another high point in the hills, a scenic location where we'll see rocky crags protruding from the grassy rolling hills.
The trail takes us down the ridgeline and then down and out a long valley, skipping over rills in the eroded area of the hills.
At the end of the long valley we'll find several farming villages surrounded by fields of squash and melons.
We'll walk along the road that joins the villages, keeping an eye out for pigs wandering about. Just after the second village, we'll make another climb up to a ridgeline, and then down the other side to complete our loop hike.
As with the hike on Saturday, there's an option to make this walk a little easier.
Hike statistics: Spirit Wall Mountain Loop
• Distance: 11km • Approx. 3–4 hours of hiking • Start/finish height: 1,564m • Total ascent/descent: 475m
Horseriding and motorcycles
Horses and 4-wheel motorcycles are available for hire from locals at an hourly rate. The cost of hire is not included in the price of the hike because it's not likely that everyone will want to participate in these activities. We can help you arrange rental – the horses cost around ¥100 per hour; the motorbikes around ¥30 per hour. They cost a lot more if you break them!
Horses are usually available; motorbikes are sometimes available. If you're particularly interested in either, we can call up in the week before the trip.
There is often quite a bit of pollen in the air in the grasslands. Hayfever/allergy medication may make this trip more enjoyable, especially if you’ve had hayfever in the past.