On this hike we begin at Stone Valley Village and hike the same line of wall as our Middle Route of the Switchback Great Wall hike.
Starting at Stone Valley Village gives us a longer hike and some different angles for our views of the Great Wall, including a great look at what an attacker might have been faced with trying to cross over to the Beijing side.
We begin with a quick stroll through Stone Valley Village, passing by the courtyard guesthouse where we’ll enjoy a big meal after the hike. From the guesthouse we walk out into the fields in the valley behind the village.
At the back of the fields we’ll find the dirt trail that leads up and over our first hill of the day. It’s slightly steep in places, but we’ll be up on top in about 30 minutes.
At the top of the hill we’ll step on to a line of much older wall – said to date back to the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577) – that runs roughly along the ridge which is now the Beijing-Hebei border. What’s left of that wall is a rough line of piled rocks, which makes for tricky walking in a few places. We’ve cut some side trails around the steepest parts, and from this part of the track you’ll have great views of the Ming wall and towers running along the next ridge over.
The Northern Qi Great Wall again joins up with the Ming Dynasty-era wall, which we’ll follow all the way up to a 1034m beacon tower known as the General’s Tower, the largest on this line of wall. From up on top of the tower we’ll have great views of the surrounding mountains, with more wall seen snaking off into the distance.
It’s known as the General’s Tower because it would have been a command post. Our guides will be able to point out other tall towers in the surrounding mountains – all with line-of-sight – which would have formed a sort of communication network.
From the General’s Tower the hike continues, following the wall south. Not far along is a spot where you can get an angle on the General’s Tower that makes for a superb photo.
Eventually we pass through two closely-spaced towers that protect another pass, and it’s here where we farewell the wall for the day. From the pass we follow a well-formed trail down through forest, and then back along the road to Stone Valley Village to finish the hike.