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Hillwalking and non-Great Wall hikes and trips in Beijing

The Great Wall is obviously great, but there's more to hiking in Beijing than the Great Wall. Interested in non-Great Wall hikes, level 3 and up? Here's what we have coming up!

If you'd like to see all the other hikes and trips we have scheduled, click here for the list of all our upcoming hikes and trips in Beijing.

Departure date: Saturday, July 29

The Great Flood

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We almost named this hike “The Goat’s Trail” after the many herds of goats we saw while scouting the route. Along the way we will pick a path up a bouldery canyon, follow rivers, climb a steep valley, walk through grassy meadows, and see a village that was abandoned after a particularly large flood and is now being resettled. Bring something to eat for lunch – we’ll supply water and snacks.

If there’s any water in the pools on the second half of the hike we might be able to stop and have a little paddle. Bring your swimsuit, just in case!

Early departure! We’re leaving extra early so we can do the big climb before it gets too hot.

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Departure date: Sunday, July 30

Dragon Cloud Mountain

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Once upon a time, Dragon Cloud Mountain was one of the many scenic areas hidden away in Beijing’s mountains. Now, with the park entrance boarded up, the views of the surrounding cliffs, canyons, and boulders are more or less forgotten. But not by us!

We’ll ford the White River and pass through a cave to find the stairs that lead up to the top, climbing up on to a massive slab of sandstone. Once up there, we’ll take a look at what’s left of the ‘ghost house’ and will make a circuit of an old reservoir before following a gravel road down the other side of the mountain to finish.

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Departure date: Saturday, August 5

Zhuangdaokou to Moss Mountain

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This hike is a combination of two shorter trails: the Zhuangdaokou and Walled Village hike, and the Moss Mountain hike.

We first climb up a valley to get to the Zhuangdaokou Great Wall, and after a short look we head on through the fields towards the Walled Village. Then we’re on to farm roads and hill trails on the way towards Moss Mountain.

This could almost be rated a Level 3+ hike but there is a deceptive amount of uphill.

Brushy trail! Part of the middle section could turn into a bit of a jungle adventure. Most of the trail is nice and clear.

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A crossing on the White River
Departure date: Sunday, August 6

Dragon Cloud Mountain and White River

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A fresh take on our White River hike: We skip the commercial end of the White River for a hike over Dragon Cloud Mountain, before joining the river at the big bend that marks the start of the quietest and most scenic part of the trail. We’ll hike up Dragon Cloud Mountain and join on to the narrow concrete road that is the only access to a tiny village, and follow an old road from the village down to the river side. We’ll then begin the river hike, fording 6-7 times on the way to the end.

Note: If the river level is raised because of rain we might not be able to hike. We’ll know for sure in the week before the hike.

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Departure date: Saturday, August 12

The Pinnacle Tower

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This stretch of the Great Wall sits atop the “Big East Mountain” in Huairou, and it’s a hike we don’t do frequently. The view from the top of the Pinnacle Tower is stunning and well worth the tough climb. We’ll make two big hill climbs on the way to the top, where we’ll stop to enjoy the views before walking out to the road to meet our bus.

NOTES: Balancing skills and a good head for heights will be required. Rain would make this hike dangerous, in which case we’d change to a different Great Wall trail.

Weather note: if rain or thunder is forecast we might not be able to hike. We have another Great Wall hike the next day, just in case.

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Departure date: Sunday, August 13

Immortal Valley Loop

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This loop walk follows a park trail, passing streams, pools, waterfalls, boulders, and caves on the way to an almost-800 metre peak. From the peak we’ll get a good view of the surrounding hills and valleys, and should be able to spot the Miyun Reservoir. On the way back down we’ll follow a scenic ridgeline trail through pines and impressive rocky outcrops. The full loop is around 14km, and will take 4–5 hours to complete.

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Hiking up the Vulture Rock Ridge trail
Departure date: Saturday, August 19

Miaofengshan Super Loop

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Get good exercise with great views on this loop hike in the mountains west of Beijing, following hill trails up to a broad plateau before walking along high-up Vulture Rock Ridge and then on to the peak of Miaofengshan.

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Departure date: Sunday, August 27

Silver Pagoda Loop

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For this hike we will follow a seldom-used trail to get to the Silver Pagodas, a set of five well-preserved 600-year-old pagodas that are all that remains of a big Buddhist temple. On the way to the pagoda site we will take a long walk through the countryside, passing a village, quarries, and a local shrine, before a steep climb to the 720m peak of Holly Mountain. From the top we can look down on the pagodas and large swathes of the surrounding countryside, and as we follow the path down we will pass large bells, “North Beijing’s Number One Waterfall,” and plenty of other interesting local landmarks.

Weather note: if rain or thunder is forecast we might not be able to hike. We have more hikes the next day, just in case.

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A Great Wall tower on a bluff
Departure date: Saturday, September 2

Yellow Grass Plateau and Seven Towers

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A tough two-hour climb gets us up on to the Yellow Grass Plateau, high in the mountains of Mentougou. We’ll take a break on the high altitude meadows before hiking on over the plateau to the Seven Towers hill, the highest Great Wall in Beijing Municipality. After a look about at the towers we head back to the start point, following a slightly different trail on the way down.

Extra early start This hike is way out to the west of Beijing, and the drive time could be around three hours. We’re leaving early to get ahead of any traffic, and to be sure we have enough time to complete the hike.

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Departure date: Sunday, September 3

White River hike

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On this slightly different version of our White River hike we skip the commercial end of the river and start instead with a walk down to the river via a scenic area, joining the trail at the ‘big bend’ in the river.

Ford rivers on this long and level canyon hike in Miyun District, passing beneath tall cliffs and following the path of the river as it winds through the mountains. The area is relatively unpopulated, making this an excellent scenic hike that will fill your lungs with fresh air. Four or so hours of reasonably easy hiking over approximately 12km, and you’ll get your feet wet crossing the river!

Note: If the river level is raised because of rain we might not be able to hike. We’ll know for sure in the week before the hike.

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Hike Fest 2017  - The Challenge
Departure date: Saturday, September 9

2017 Hiking Festival: The Challenge (24km+)

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The Challenge: a mountain-walking half-marathon of 24km, with more than 1,000m of uphill. How fast can you finish it?

Hike country roads and hill trails up past the High Tower, then through valleys and over ridges to Stone Valley Village. A mountain-walking half marathon! For full information please visit our hiking festival event mini-site, and then come back here to sign up!

Extra: if you’re fast enough, you’ll be able to access an extended section that makes the trail 30km long.

Registration closes September 1; sign up and make your payment before then.

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Departure date: Sunday, September 10

Walk Down The Incense Trail to Dajue Temple

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Follow the steps of pilgrims on this hike, starting close to the temple at Miaofengshan in Beijing’s western mountains, and hiking an old pilgrims’ trail through forested hills and along ridges on the way to Dajuesi, a beautiful temple built in the Liao Dynasty. Aside from a bit of climbing at the start, this hike follows a trail that is mostly flat, until we start walking down the paved trail that leads to Dajue Temple. During this hike we’ll get great views of mountains, and will pass through a pine forest where we often see people hunting for mushrooms and medicinal herbs. The cost of the hike includes entrance to Dajue Temple.

Note: Bring your own lunch, please! We’ll set up our picnic tables with beer and snacks after the hike.

Easy 3+: this hike almost rates a Level 3, but the 7km descent down to the temple is pretty tough on the knees.

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Departure date: Saturday, September 23

Heituo Mountain Loop

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Hike up to the craggy peak of Heituo Mountain, and then down and out below the tall cliffs on the Nine-Eyes Tower side of the mountain. (On this version of the trail we skip the brushy areas of the Valley of the Pigs as well as the gruelling climb up through the forest at the other end of the valley.)

This is a fairly rough hike and part of the track is rather wild, so we’re limiting the number of participants to only fifteen tough trekkers. Because of the steep ascents and descents on this hike we wouldn’t be able to do it in or after rain.

You’ll need to be in good shape and have a good head for heights to enjoy this hike, and we’ll ask you about that as part of the sign up process.

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Departure date: Sunday, September 24

Cypress Wells Canyon and Yongning Town

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Autumn colours! Visit Yanqing Country to find a short stretch of ‘Warring States’ era Great Wall and an old village amidst the mountainous landscapes. The hike begins with a nice long, flat walk along the floor of the canyon. Mid-way, we’ll stop for a break at a small and interesting mostly-abandoned village before following a trail up through a pine forest to take a look at a very old section of Great Wall. We’ll finish the hike by following a hill trail down and out to the nearest road.

After the hike we’ll take a stroll through the streets of Yongning Town, a countryside town with a long history, a big tower in the middle of town, and a street market in the town square.

Because this hike is mostly flat it’s fine for fairly active kids, but there is a long and steep descent to finish it. If you’re not sure about the suitability, please get in touch with us.

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Departure date: Sunday, October 1

Prove Your Loyalty

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For this hike we head out to Pinggu District for a ramble that follows wooded trails, passes abandoned villages, and crosses a short rundown stretch of Great Wall. The hike is named for a story told to us by villagers: during the war, the Japanese army forced residents in one of the villages to destroy a nearby section of the Great Wall and carry the bricks down to the village as a demonstration of loyalty to Japanese forces.

On this visit we’re adding on an extra 6km for a longer walk, finishing near where we usually begin our Perfect Loop hike. A great chance for a nice long day out in the hills.

Holiday traffic: There’s a chance we’ll get stuck in bad traffic at some point during the drive, and we might be back to Beijing later than estimated. We’d recommend not making fixed plans for the evening, just in case!

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All upcoming hillwalking hikes in Beijing

You're viewing all our hillwalking hikes. We've got many more hikes for you to try, though!


We publish our hike schedule month by month, with updates around the 10th of each month.

If you're interested in hikes and trips during a month that's not yet listed, use our contact form to let us know and we'll send you a quick email when the schedule is online.

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Hike schedule: hillwalking hikes

Departure date: Saturday, July 29
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The Great Flood

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Departure date: Sunday, July 30
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Dragon Cloud Mountain

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Departure date: Saturday, August 5
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Zhuangdaokou to Moss Mountain

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Departure date: Sunday, August 6
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Dragon Cloud Mountain and White River

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Departure date: Saturday, August 12
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The Pinnacle Tower

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Departure date: Sunday, August 13
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Immortal Valley Loop

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Departure date: Saturday, August 19
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Miaofengshan Super Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, August 20
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Down the White River

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Departure date: Sunday, August 27
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Silver Pagoda Loop

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Departure date: Saturday, September 2
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Yellow Grass Plateau and Seven Towers

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Departure date: Sunday, September 3
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White River hike

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Departure date: Saturday, September 9
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2017 Hiking Festival: The Challenge (24km+)

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Departure date: Sunday, September 10
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Walk Down The Incense Trail to Dajue Temple

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Departure date: Sunday, September 17
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Tanzhe Temple and the Abandoned Village

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Departure date: Saturday, September 23
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Heituo Mountain Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, September 24
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Cypress Wells Canyon and Yongning Town

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Departure date: Sunday, October 1
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Prove Your Loyalty

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Departure date: Monday, October 2
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The Pinnacle Tower

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Departure date: Tuesday, October 3
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Zhuangdaokou to the Walled Village

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Departure date: Wednesday, October 4
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Rolling Hills and Empty Lanes

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Departure date: Saturday, October 7
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Quarrymen’s Trail to the Heavenly Lake

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Explore China

See more of China on a multi-day trip—travel to famous scenic areas, or choose to visit somewhere obscure and less well-known.

Upcoming trips

The green rolling hills of the Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
Trip dates: August 11–13, 2017

Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province

In Brief: Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

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A desert lake, seen from the peak of a tall dune in the Badain Jaran Desert, Inner Mongolia
Trip dates: August 16–20, 2017

Badain Jaran Desert and Zhangye Danxia Landform (5 days)

In Brief: Two days in the Badain Jaran desert with an overnight camp, peaking with an ascent of one of the world’s tallest dunes; three days looking about nearby scenic and historical highlights including the Zhangye Danxia Landform.

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Mountains of Zhagana, Gansu Province
Trip dates: September 13–17, 2017

Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Zhagana Tibetan area, Gansu Province

In Brief: See the Labrang Monastery, Tibetan Buddhist temples, and super high mountain scenery on this trip to the largely Tibetan remote area of Gansu Province. A similar feel to Tibet, without the hassle of getting the official permit.

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