Celebrate Christmas with a hike on the Great Wall!
We've been doing our special Christmas Hikes since 2004, and in 2020 the tradition continues!
This year we're going to do the scenic Hemp Village to Gubeikou Great Wall hike, and then head to our favourite Gubeikou restaurant for a big lunch. After lunch we'll have a dumpling-making contest, with prizes to be won! (We’ll be doing a hike on Christmas, too. More details about that will be added later.)
If you’re not free on actual Christmas, book in on our Boxing Day on the Great Wall hike—the Hemp Village to Gubeikou Great Wall hike, also with post-hike feast and dumpling-making competition.
On this hike we make a loop out of 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 start off at the back of Stone Valley Village, a tidy settlement just on the Beijing side of the border. We’ll drive up to the end of the road, and start the hike on a paved trail that leads up into the hills.
Further up we take a turn for the hills on a dirt trail that leads up to the Great Wall. The trail takes us up through a forested valley, getting slightly steeper as we near the Great Wall.
After taking a break by the Great Wall, we follow a rough and unrestored section of Great Wall all the way up to a 1,034m 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.
A short hike along the wall from the General’s Tower takes us to a point where the wall splits—the main line of Ming-era Great Wall heads straight down into Hebei Province, and a line of much older wall – said to date back to the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577) – runs roughly along the ridge which is now the Beijing-Hebei border.
On this visit we will follow the Northern Qi Great Wall to avoid any issues with wall wardens on the Hebei side.
What’s left of the Northern Qi 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 wall continues along through the hills and eventually joins again with the Ming wall. On this trip we’ll do an up-and-back along the last part of the Northern Qi wall to check out some more of the Ming wall further up on the ridge—we’ll offer you the option to explore two of the high towers up there before heading back down to find the trail that leads down through forest to the end of the hike.
And then, after we're all done with the hike, we'll head to a local restaurant where we'll have a big (although maybe not so traditional) Christmas feast of Chinese food, washed down with a good amount of beer.
After lunch, we’ll have a dumpling-making contest, with prizes awarded for ‘Most Dumplings’ and ‘Best Dumpling.’ If your dumplings are up to scratch, we may be be able to eat them as well!