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How to choose the best Great Wall hike

In Brief: 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.

Looking across the Mutianyu Great Wall

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Level 4 / A tough hike that follows the Great Wall from Jiankou's General's Tower all the way over to the Mutianyu Great Wall, starting on unrestored wall and finishing on a restored section.
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Long views of all the Great Wall at Jinshanling

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Level 4 / Walk from Gubeikou to Jinshanling, following stretches of restored and unrestored Great Wall and taking a detour through the pretty farmland that surrounds Hemp Village, finishing all the way over at the eastern end of Jinshanling.
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Hiking on the unrepaired section of the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Level 3+ / Walk through chestnut orchards to find a dirt trail that climbs up to the unrestored wall; follow the wall through unrestored and restored sections, making a big climb up to a lookout point high on a ridge.
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‘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.

Clouds over the Great Wall Spur

Great Wall Spur

Level 3+ / 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.
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The General’s Tower

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Level 3+ / Follow a line of wild wall up to a tall tower with 360° views of mountains, valleys, small villages, and a long line of wall heading high into the hills. (Sometimes referred to as the Switchback or Chen Castle)
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Hikers on the wild Great Wall in Huairou District

The Pinnacle Tower

Level 4 / Hike park trails and hills on the way to the Pinnacle Tower, a seldomly-visited Ming Dynasty lookout that sits on a peak at almost 1,000m above sea level.
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The wild Great Wall in Huailai District

Zhenbiancheng Great Wall Loop Hike

Level 3+ / A long hill climb takes us up on to a remote, rough, and seldom-visited stretch of unrestored Great Wall.
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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.

A stretch of Great Wall

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Level 3 / A relatively easy 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.
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Hiking on the unrepaired section of the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Level 3+ / Walk through chestnut orchards to find a dirt trail that climbs up to the unrestored wall; follow the wall through unrestored and restored sections, making a big climb up to a lookout point high on a ridge.
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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.

A long line of rough Great Wall in the mountains of Zhangjiakou's Huailai County

Zhenbiancheng Great Wall and Big Camp Plate Challenge

Level 5+ / One of our most challenging treks, covering a long section of wild wall in Beijing's northwest. Suited to experienced and fit hikers
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Long views of Great Wall in Yanqing County, Beijing

Yanqing Great Wall and High Tower Challenge

Level 5+ / A challenging day hike that follows trails through the hills in a remote corner of Beijing, peaking at a Great Wall tower 1,440m above sea level.
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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.

Early evening views from the campsite

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Level 3 / Camp overnight in a scenic spot on the Great Wall. You’ll hike easier with just the essentials in your day pack; we’ll arrange delivery of the camping equipment to the campsite.
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See sunset from the Great Wall at Gubeikou

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Level 3 / Camp overnight in a tower at the Gubeikou Great Wall, and hike on to Jinshanling the next day. You’ll hike easier with just the essentials in your day pack; we’ll arrange delivery of the camping equipment to the campsite.
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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.)

Views of mountains and valleys on the Big Camp Plate trail

Big Camp Plate Village and Hengling Valley

Level 4 / Ramble about in the hills of Huailai, passing villages, valleys, and fields, with views of big mountains and Great Wall.
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Hiking up a ridgeline on the west side of Gubeikou

Gubeikou West Circuit (Route 2)

Level 4 / Make a circuit of the west side of Gubeikou to check out some of the more obscure Great Wall in the area, including a rough line of rocks that is said to be wall built in 556 AD during the Northern Qi Dynasty.
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Views of mountains from the High Tower

The High Tower Loop hike

Level 4 / A loop hike through mountainous terrain that takes you up to the High Tower, one of the highest Great Wall towers in Beijing.
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Hikers on a peak near the Round Tower

The Round Tower

Level 3 / A steep climb up a path beside the Great Wall gets you to the Round Tower, a lookout point with unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains and the vast Miyun reservoir.
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A view of valleys and hills in Pinggu District

Bricks In The Wall hike

Level 4 / Roam about the hills northwest of Beijing, passing through small villages and climbing up a super-steep stretch of Great Wall.
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Hikes and trips

Hike in Beijing: Join-in hikes and trips to the Great Wall, hills, mountains, forests, and village around Beijing, every week. We have a range of difficulty levels, with hikes that are suitable for casual walkers as well as the super-fit. View the full schedule of hikes in Beijing »

Trips around China: Multi-day trips around China — visits to famous scenic areas, as well as those obscure and less well-known. View the full schedule of our trips around China »