This hike is a new version of our old ‘Ancient Horse Hoofprints’ hike, which we stopped doing after a big road was built right through the middle of the hiking trail. We’ve found a new start point which adds a longer walk on the Jingxi Ancient Road and avoids the big road. this is the easier version of the hike, skipping the extra climb on the firebreak road.
We start off near a village that was one of the stops on the Jingxi Ancient Road, a network of old trails and trading routes that cross over the mountains in the west of Beijing.
Until even recently the hills here were mined for coal, and the hike we’re doing today follows part of the route used to carry coal over the hills into Beijing
Behind the village we stay on the path of the trading route, making a slow climb up a forested valley, aiming for the village further up in 'Flower Valley'.
The trail is roughly paved and follows a dried streambed. If there has been recent rain we’d see some water in the stream. About halfway up there’s a waterfall which usually has a trickle of water, unless it’s winter, when it turns into a big block of ice.
By the waterfall is where we find the first tricky part of the hike – a chain-assisted clamber up a cliff. (See some photos below.) Not far past that is the second tricky part – another steep climb, again assisted by chains pinned into the rocks.
After the chains we’re into the middle section of the hike, a long and gradual climb through a slowly-broadening valley that finishes at a semi-abandoned village.
We’ll stop for a lunch break in the village and then continue on a steeper trail up to a pass in the mountains. On the other side of the pass is a long trail that leads down to the outskirts of Beijing city. Before we hike down, we’ll do a little detour to check out the ‘ancient horse hoofprints’.
We’ll hike out down to the road, and then all the way out to finish in another village that was one of the main stops on the trading route before reaching central Beijing.