This version of the Heituo Mountain crossing starts at the small village where we’d usually end the hike, hits the 1,503m peak of Heituo after a long climb up through forested valleys and along ridgelines, and ends with a long walk out via Nine-Eyes Tower.
We’re doing a reverse version because we’ll be able to skip some hassle getting into the village where we usually start, which means our start on the hike won’t be delayed. If it turns out that we’re still not allowed into those villages by the time of the, we’ll be able to finish the hike on a different trail instead of having to cancel the whole thing.
This is a fairly rough hike and parts of the track are very steep, so we’ll be limiting the number of participants. 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.
The hiking trail
We'll start the hike in a tiny farming village by the roadside, and follow a concrete fire service track up into the mountains.
After about 2km of concrete, we'll make a little scramble to get on to the track that leads through forest up towards the peak.
The forest track is good walking: a well-formed dirt trail that is mostly clear of close vegetation. As we hike up through the forest we'll have views of the peak and the other mountains in the area.
We'll get up on to a comparatively flat trail along the saddle below the peak, and we'll be able to catch our breath before we take on the big climb up to the summit.
The track starts getting seriously steep here, and goes up about 225m over just 600m of trail. But it's worth the effort—the views from the top are amazing on a clear day, with the Jiankou Great Wall far below, reservoirs and lakes seen farther out, and maybe a glimpse of Beijing's CBD in the far distance.
We'll take a rest in a grassy meadow near the peak, and start getting ready to hike down the other side of the mountain.
The trail crosses over the craggy ridge of Heituo Mountain's peak, and then we start the steep descent down the south side of the mountain.
On the south side of the peak is a crossroads in the trail. On this hike we're going to take the turn that leads towards Nine-Eyes Tower instead of continuing down into the wild Valley of the Pigs. (Unless the villages at Jiankou are still closed, in which case we’ll go via the Valley of the Pigs to finish at a smaller village on the other side of the mountains.)
The path down towards Nine-Eyes Tower is very steep to begin with, and could feel tough on the knees. The trail twists and turns through forest and leads below the face of tall cliffs, and just past the cliffs we find the old line of Great Wall that leads down to Nine-Eyes Tower and Jiankou's 'Big West' Great Wall.
After a break at Nine-Eyes Tower we'll take our regular trail down to the bottom, walking a short stretch of repaired wall before following hill trails down and back to the bus.
Different versions of this hike
We have variations of this hike called 'Heituo Mountain', 'Heituo Mountain Loop', and 'Heituo Mountain Crossing'. The middle part of these variations is the same: the climbing around the peak of the mountain. The differences are in the start and finish points, and whether or not we go down into the 'Valley of the Pigs'. (We do the 'Valley of the Pigs' on the Heituo Mountain hike, the toughest version.)