The hike starts and finishes in a small village by a river that runs below tall cliffs. If we drove just a little bit farther along the road we’d be into Hebei Province.
But instead of driving into Hebei Province we’re going to hike into Hebei Province, crossing a pass in the mountains before hiking back into Beijing.
And while we’re in the area we’ll take a look at a short stretch of Great Wall that would have helped prevent Ming Dynasty-era hikers from getting into Beijing as easily as we will.
After a short walk from the village square, we’ll be on to a rough gravel road that leads up into the mountains. The road was built in order to access some fields farther up the valley.
The land farther up the valley is rather marginal in terms of farming – there’s not a lot of flat ground in between the steep sides of the valley. The fields are mostly fallow now. We’ll spot a few little shacks and farmhouses on the way up, and in the right season we’ll be able to pick some wild hawthorns.
On the way up we’ll also pass one of the main landmarks on the hike, where the sides of the valley turn into cliffs and leave a narrow winding gap to walk through.
As we get further into the valley the hills turn into crags and we’ll be in for the main ascent of the hike, working our way up a hillside to cross over at a pass in the mountains. The trail gets steep just before the pass, and it’s quite a taxing climb.
On the other side of the pass the trail will take us down through forest and then out through a mostly-abandoned village. After walking through the village we’ll get on to a concreted road for an easy walk of 30-40 minutes down another valley. We’ll come out to the main road, on the Hebei side of the border.
The last part of the hike will take us up a hillside track to see a short stretch of repaired Great Wall. The hill track is steep in a few places, starting with a walk by apple trees and then heading into forest.
We’ll find the Great Wall hidden up in the forest – a rough line of stones and rocks that leads down to an outcrop on a cliff with repaired brick section with two towers to look at. From the towers a narrow gravel track takes us back down to the village to finish the hike.