This hike takes us up the steps and stairs in the Phoenix Ridge Scenic Area, and we’ll then hike out of the park area and along the ridges and hill tracks in the nearby mountains. We’ll finish by following an old pilgrims’s trail down to finish at a small village.
The Phoenix Ridge scenic area contains a network of paved trails that pass by old shrines, caves, and precariously-perched pagodas.
We'll follow the park stairs up to the ridge to take a look at the "Flying Stone Pagoda" perched at 728m above sea level. It’s a big climb to the top. The park entrance is at an elevation of about 90m, and a lot of the ascent is on stairs.
Little and Big Wind Gaps
We’ll escape from the park area and on to the hiking trails in the nearby mountains, following dirt tracks along the ridgeline and passing by both the Little and Big Wind Gaps. The ‘Wind Gaps’ are dips in the ridges, and the shape of the mountains funnels strong breezes through the gaps.
The Pilgrims’ Trail
After a break at the Big Wind Gap, we’ll hike down an old pilgrims’ trail to finish.
During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) various temples in the mountains here were active and often visited by pilgrims. Trails between temples were financed by donors, and it’s said that the trail we’ll be following today was constructed at the behest of a religious eunuch during the reign of Empress Cixi (1861-1908 AD).
We’ll be joining the trail midway—heading south would take us to the temple at Miaofengshan, and to the north is the Beijing side of the mountains. We’ll be heading down to the Beijing side.
The first part of the descent is down an open ridgeline, with views of the northwestern suburbs of Beijing city.
As we get lower, the trail takes us through a forested valley, crossing a little stream and passing the ruins of teahouses. Some of these old teahouses look to have been quite big, judging by the height and thickness of the remaining walls.
Just before the end of the hike we hit a firebreak road, which we’ll follow back to the car park at the Phoenix Ridge scenic area.