We tried this hike during the Spring Festival holiday, and got turned back at the top by gales, freezing temperature, and slippery snow. On this visit it should be a lot warmer!
We start the hike by walking through Changyucheng Village, which was a Ming Dynasty-era barracks and fortress. As we walk through we’ll see the walls that encircled the village, and the fortress walls inside the village.
Up some stairs behind the village is a reservoir. We’ll take a little break here where the trail forks.
Today we’re going to go up the quieter valley trail, which starts out flat, gradually gets steeper, and ends with a leg-muscle-burning stair climb to reach the high ridgeline.
There’s more work for the legs coming up, with a long, long climb to the High Tower way up on the peak. The trail to the top is on a well-formed trail with super views of mountains all around, and if it’s a clear day you’ll easily spot Beijing city through one of the gaps in the hills.
At 1,440m of elevation, the High Tower is one of the highest in Beijing. It’s one of the most prominent, too, and you’ll have views on two sides of Great Wall disappearing into the mountains. Keen eyes might spot the Stone Valley Great Wall far below, which is one of our favourite 'wild' Great Wall hikes.
We’ll take a longer break here to let everyone catch up, and our guides will have a chat to the local Great Wall wardens about the options for continuing.
They’ll probably say we’re not allowed to walk on ‘their’ part of the wall, in which case we’ll do a 45-60 minute detour on some rough and broken Great Wall and a forest trail.
If they’re not in such a strict mood we’ll walk down the steep, repaired part of Great Wall on the north side of the High Tower.
Down below, the trails join back up and we’ll follow the Great Wall along the Beijing-Hebei border. Parts of this line of the Great Wall were repaired in 2014, and there’s more repair work going on right now. We’ll hike on the wall where possible, and use trails beside the Great Wall to get around steep parts or places where people are working.
At a dip in the mountains we’ll find the trail that takes us down to the end of the hike, a 3km walk that starts off on a tricky and gravelly trail and ends on a dirt road that passes the old pig farm on the way to the main road.