Sundown at the Forest Park
A version of the 16km ‘Through the Hills to the Forest Park’ super hike in Beijing’s West Mountains that’s timed to finish with views of the lights of Beijing city sparkling as the sky darkens.
This area is a favourite of Beijing’s wider hiking community, and we’ve long heard tales of spectacular views of Beijing’s city lights from the peak of the Western Hills Forest Park.
With the weather warming up we think it’s time to take a look for ourselves! We’re timing the walk to end up at the ‘Laughing Ghost Rock’ viewpoint at the top of the forest park shortly before sundown, and we’ll hang about up top until the views get good. We’ll start hiking down before it goes full dark, but you’d better pack a headlamp or torch along with plenty of warm clothes.
We’ll start off with a warm up walk along the roadside before hitting a steep trail that takes us up on to the ridgeline above the Badachu park area.
The trail goes up through low brush and rocky areas passing Little Tiger Peak and Big Tiger Peak, two hilltops with views of the Badachu park area far below.
Past the Big Tiger Peak we’ll turn down on to a forest track that takes us over to a firebreak road.
We’ll follow the firebreak road a short distance before turning off on to a narrow hill track, and after a short climb to a crest we’ll have views of the Nanmuchang Reservoir in the valley below.
We’ll take the scenic route down to the reservoir, staying higher up on a trail that slowly descends through the hills.
After a break at the reservoir we continue along a utility road that passes a disused dam. It’s a gentle way to start again after our break, and that’s good—we’ll soon be on to another of those steep trails, this time hiking up a terraced valley to reach a rocky trail that leads up to another of the firebreak roads.
As we reach that firebreak road we’ll be very close to the south side of the Xiangshan park area—we’ll be able to spot the top of the chairlift and one of the main lookout points.
We’ll follow the firebreak road to the top side of the Western Hills Forest Park and squeeze through the little gate to get in. Here there’s a little shop that sells snacks and drinks, if you need a refill.
From the top of the Forest Park we’ll hike over to the ‘Laughing Ghost Rock’ viewpoint and watch Beijing’s lights come on as the sun goes down.
Sundown at the Forest Park, March 20
Municipal lights on: 18:43
Nautical twilight*: 19:25
Moon phase: just after full moon (but the moon won’t rise until late)
* Nautical twilight is when the sun is far enough below the horizon that the sky is dark enough for brighter stars to become visible.
Once we’ve seen the lights start showing we’ll start down the stairs, and finish the hike at the East Gate of the park area. It will probably be dark by the time we get to the gates, and we recommend you bring a headlamp or torch to help you safely get down the stairs and steps.