How to choose the best Great Wall hike

Read the Beijing Hikers guide to choosing the perfect Great Wall hike.

How do you choose the best Great Wall hike? We hope the information on this page gives you an idea of the different options.

The headings match the most common questions we are asked about choosing a Great Wall hike.

Click any of the hikes listed to read a full description. If it says that the hike is not currently available for booking, please contact us to find out when we’ll be making our next visit.

Classic hiking routes on the Great Wall in Beijing

On these routes you’ll hike on unrepaired ‘wild’ Great Wall as well as restored Great Wall.

The Great Wall on these hikes dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The restored sections will show you what the wall would have looked like during that era, which is considered to be the peak of Great Wall construction.

On the unrepaired sections you’ll see the effects of 400+ years of weathering—in some places you’ll see the wall has held up very well, and in others you’ll see the tumbled-down remains of towers and battlements.

‘Wild’ Great Wall

Outside of the main touristy parts of the Great Wall, the wall continues through the mountains, running up and down steep ridges. Some of this ‘wild’ wall is difficult enough to reach on a hike, let alone repair, and on hikes like these you’ll walk on Great Wall that has been more or less untouched since the end of the Ming Dynasty.

  1. Clouds over the Great Wall Spur

    Great Wall Spur

    After a tough hill climb of 40–50 minutes, we reach a beautiful, unrestored stretch of Great Wall. The hike continues along the wall, passing through towers, finishing in a rustic village. Read more about Great Wall Spur

Non-touristy Great Wall hikes that are slightly easier

Most of our hikes to the Great Wall require a fair amount of uphill climbing before you even see the Great Wall. These two hikes are slightly easier, and the Gubeikou Great Wall Loop is probably the easiest ‘proper’ Great Wall hike we’ve got.

If these easier hikes still sound too difficult to be enjoyable, you might be better off with a standard tour to somewhere like the Mutianyu Great Wall. At the major tourist sites there are more people, but facilities like cable cars allow you to spend more time on the wall itself, rather than having to hike up.

Long and difficult Great Wall hikes

Two of Beijing’s best long Great Wall hikes are found in Yanqing District, and on both of these trails you’ll get a full day of exercise and a lot of climbing up and down on rough and unrepaired ‘wild’ Great Wall.

Camping trips

We run join-in group camping trips to the Great Wall from late March through to June, and then from September through to early October.

During summer (June–August) we don't go camping because there's a high chance that the trips will be disrupted by thunderstorms, heavy rain, or extreme heat. During winter (October–March) it's usually way too cold to be fun for most people.

Here are our two favourite locations to wake up on the Great Wall. See the current schedule of Great Wall camping trips here.

Obscure sections of Beijing’s Great Wall

If you’ve hiked a lot of Great Wall already, you might have had enough. (If that’s a yes, have a look at our guide on how to choose a non-Great Wall hike in Beijing.)

But if you want to expand your knowledge of Beijing’s Great Wall, there’s something like 600-700km of it up there in the hills.

On these hikes you’ll see Great Wall that is not commonly visited, but is still worth a look. (As opposed to being a pile of rubble and stones, or one of those repair jobs where everything was covered in concrete.)

Need help to pick your perfect Great Wall hike? Get in contact with us