Looking back towards the Gubeikou Great Wall from Jinshanling
Looking towards the Gubeikou Great Wall from Jinshanling.

Jinshanling to Gubeikou Great Wall Sundown Hike

Say goodbye to 2020 with a hike on Great Wall and hill trails between Jinshanling, arriving at the top section of the Gubeikou Great Wall in time for long views and great photos in the soft light of ‘golden hour’.

Level 4
Some steep stairs on the Great Wall. 4–5 hours start to finish over approx. 12km (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

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See the last sunset of 2020 from the Great Wall.

For this hike we plan to be up on the top section of the Gubeikou Great Wall during the ‘golden hour’, the hour before sunset in which the sunlight gets an extra filter as it passes through more of the atmosphere and (hopefully!) gives some lovely soft and warm light for photos of the Great Wall and scenery.

The exit at the Jinshanling Great Wall closes at 2:30pm, so we’ll need to keep on time to avoid getting stuck. If we run into delays on the way, we’ll need to take a shortcut at Jinshanling.

The hike

This hike starts at the restored Great Wall at Jinshanling and finishes at Gubeikou where the wall is mostly untouched. While hiking you’ll have superb views of the wall – from on top of the wall itself, and also close up views from alongside.

Much of the Jinshanling Great Wall is outside the Beijing Municipality, in Hebei Province. It’s a well-known part of the Great Wall that is in good condition after a lot of restoration work, and it is extremely picturesque, with large towers that are more closely-spaced than usual.

We’ll start our walk from the main gate of Jinshanling, and we’ll follow the middle path to the wall that goes up below the cable car line. It’s a fairly mellow trail that passes through forest, and it takes us up on to the wall right in the midst of all the big towers and the super-steep stairs. Perfect for photos!

Then we’ll head west along the Jinshanling Great Wall, hiking up and down steep staircases before getting on to a path beside the Great Wall in the hills above Hemp Village. On middle section of the hike we'll have excellent views of the wall, but we won't be able to climb on top – this stretch of wall is closed to hikers because it borders a military area.

Instead of walking on the wall here – and running the risk of soldiers joining our hike – we'll stick to the trails that run through the hills and valleys in this area, walking through some pretty farmland, with views of the Great Wall all the while.

Hiking hill trails near Hemp Village
Hiking hill trails near Hemp Village. (Click for larger image)

Eventually the trail will take us up to the wall, and after a bit of a hill climb we'll reach the 24-Eyes Tower, the tallest tower of the Gubeikou stretch of Great Wall. It used to be that there were six big windows on each side of the tower, adding up to twenty-four. But during the fighting between the Chinese and Japanese armies in the late '30s, two of the sides of the tower were destroyed by bombing. As well as a few destroyed towers, you can also spot bullet holes in the Great Wall in this area.

We’ll hike down from 24-Eyes Tower to finish the hike with hot soup and cold drinks at a village guesthouse.

Planned itinerary

Itinerary for the hike
09:30 Bus departs from Liangmaqiao to drive to Lido
10:00 Driving to the hike, stopping for a bathroom break
12:30 Start the hike at Jinshanling
13:30 Reach the Great Wall and take a break at Houchuankou Tower
14:00 Continue along the Jinshanling Great Wall, heading for Taochunkou Tower, and then into the Hemp Village hills
16:00 Arrive at the top section of the Gubeikou Great Wall
16:30 Start hiking down to the guesthouse restaurant
16:59 Sunset
17:00 Snacks and drinks at the guesthouse restaurant
17:45 Driving back, stopping for a bathroom break
20:00 Arrive at Lido, then on to Liangmaqiao

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The current precautions are minimal. Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

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Photos and trip reports: Jinshanling to Gubeikou Great Wall Sundown Hike

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