Deep in the mountains of Changping District is Changyucheng, a village that used to be a Ming Dynasty-era military barracks. On this visit we’ll hike a loop trail in the forest and mountains behind the village reservoir and then walk back down to the village for a meal before exploring the village to see stone houses, the village temple, and the thick walls of the old barracks.
We start off with a warmup walk up the main street of the village, and then out to the reservoir. Stairs lead up past the dam of the reservoir, and we’ll then follow a short boardwalk around the reservoir to the forest.
The reservoir is the start and finish of a loop walk up into the mountains.
We’ll begin the loop by walking up through birch forest, following a paved trail up into a valley. The trail rises slowly for the first part, and then begins to zig-zag as the hills get steeper. Eventually we’ll be out of the forest and up on to a clear ridge where we’ll pass a tablet that marks the Beijing-Hebei border.
The views from the tablet include the reservoir and village far below, mountains all around, and a freshly planted line of wind turbines.
After a rest we’ll head on and up, following an easy trail through the hills. The trail is broad and well-formed, with views of Great Wall on faraway peaks.
The trail forks after about 30 minutes of easy walking, and today we’ll take the fork that leads back down to the village. The trail back down has some steep stairs to start, and then turns into a gravel track that will take us back down to the reservoir.
After a hot meal at one of the village restaurants, we’ll have time to explore the village.
In the 1520s, this village was an important military base. The village was encircled by stone walls, some leading up the steep hills of the valley, and some of the arched entries and exits still remain. The thickness of the remaining walls give some indication of the level of fortification, and the importance of securing this pass, a sort-of shortcut around the heavily fortified Badaling mountain pass.
As well as the old walls, the village has several other sights to see: an old shrine which is alleged to cause difficulties for cameras; a restored-but-usually-closed temple with a large bell inside, and a giant old tree just outside the temple entrance.