Big Black Mountain | On trails through orchards and farmland, near Big Black Mountain
On trails through orchards and farmland. (Winter photo not currently available!)

Over the Hills to Yanshou Temple

A relatively easy hike through chestnut and walnut orchards on either side of a tall line of hills, finishing with a look about Yanshou Temple.

Level 3
Mostly easy with a few extended climbs. 3–4 hours start to finish over 7km. (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

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This hike follows the first half of our Big Black Mountain hiking trail … but backwards. And instead of finishing by the side of the road, we’ll add on another hill and take a stroll around the restored and recently re-repaired Yanshou Temple.

The hike

We start off at the carpark of the Water Great Wall scenic area.

The scenic area contributes largely to the GDP of the villages around here, with inns and guesthouses and restaurants catering to visitors.

But originally the main source of income here was farming, and the hills and valleys around the scenic area are still full of chestnut and walnut orchards that are still actively cultivated.

The first part of the hike follows farm tracks and trails up into one of the valleys just outside the scenic area.

The lower part of the valley is served by a narrow, slowly rising concrete road, which is used by villagers and their three-wheeler trucks up to load up with the harvested nuts every September.

Farther up the valley it’s steeper, and the narrow concrete road turns into a dirt track that winds its way up through the terraces.

Eventually the hills get too steep for more terraces and trees and the farmers’ tracks finish. This is fairly typical in Beijing—the main orchards are on the flatter ground near villages at the bottom of the valleys, and the orchards extend up into the marginal land, ending when the hills get too steep.

What’s also typical is that there will be a narrow path up and over the steep hills, leading to the orchards – and then the villages – on the other side of the mountains. These tracks were used more often back before the roads were built and everyone got cars. These tracks are not used so often any more, and usually only by hikers like us!

Our climb over the hills is steep to begin with, and starts to zig-zag through a brushy area as we near the pass. We’ll stop at the top and look back for views of the Great Wall over the Little West Lake.

The trail then heads down on to the Big Black Mountain side of the hill, coming down a dirt path and then on to a concrete road that leads down to one of the villages in the area.

Before we get to the village we’ll turn off the main track and hike over a couple of smaller hills to find Yanshou Temple.

Yanshou Temple

We don’t know a whole lot about Yanshou Temple. For a long time it was just ruins around an ancient and gnarly pine tree. The initial round of repairs started around about 2007, and we started seeing (and hearing) monks from about 2012. After not visiting for a long time it seemed the temple closed for another round of repairs, and we’re looking forward to seeing what we find on this visit! If the temple is open to visitors we’ll take a look around, and we’ll also offer the chance for extra exercise with a climb up to a lookout point above the temple grounds.

Because of the COVID-19 situation we have some extra terms and conditions for participation.

In particular:

  • DO NOT participate if you are sick or showing symptoms of fever and/or have an elevated temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who was.
  • DO NOT participate if you have not completed any required quarantine after your return to Beijing.
  • You MUST agree to the mitigation and prevention measures outlined here and that Beijing Hikers will not be held responsible if any participants become sick.

Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

Related content

Photos and trip reports: Over the Hills to Yanshou Temple

  1. Over the Hills to Yanshou Temple, 2021/03/07

    Over the Hills to Yanshou Temple, 2021/03/07

    This hike followed orchard trails and old tracks over hills large and small on the way to Yanshou Temple. The temple was still closed, but the steep stairs behind the temple took us up to a peak with broad views of the surrounding countryside—see 20+ photos.

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