UPDATE 2021/01/18: all the villages in this area are closed down and we’ve had to change the plan for today’s hike
This hike is a great way to see the sights of the countryside on a long ramble through the hills of Huairou and Changping.
We start off with a walk through a small village, stopping for a quick look at a 300-year-old performance stage (or, depending on fire wardens, hike in from the ‘car camp’), and then follow a semi-secret trail that takes us over to the Silver Pagodas.
The site of the Silver Pagodas dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), with the pagodas built in the 1400s. The silver bells of the pagodas used to ring in the breeze, and are the source of the name of this peaceful spot. Five pagodas and a few stupas still stand there, with the foundations of the temples easy to spot.
We’ll take a quick look about the pagodas before we climb up to the 600m-plus peak of Silver Mountain.
Steep stairs lead up to the top, passing fancifully named rocks and cliffs and an open platform with a large bell. We’ll hike all the way up, and from the peak of the mountain we’ll have broad views of the surrounding countryside, including the pass in the hills that we’ll cross on the way to East Water Valley Village.
A steep hill trail takes us down by an old stone quarry and then on to Longevity Village, following field trails through chestnut orchards.
We’ll take a stroll through the streets of Longevity Village before heading up into the hills again. Field paths through yet more chestnut orchards take us towards taller hills.
We’ll climb a zig-zagging path up a steep hill to and take a break at the pass before heading down to East Water Valley Village, following a largely disused trail down into a wild valley and then out to finish at the village.
This hike will likely be a little longer than usual, mainly because fire season restrictions at villages might mean we have to add a bit of distance at the start and finish of the hike.