We’re trying this one again—our last attempt (November 2021) was foiled by border restrictions and Covid test requirements.
We don’t often visit the Huangyaguan Great Wall because it’s so far away. But if you’ve already seen most of the Great Wall in Beijing, or would like to see a picturesque section that is not commonly visited as part of a trip to Beijing, it’s a good choice.
The Huangyaguan Great Wall is located in Tianjin, not too far over the Beijing-Tianjin border. It’s a repaired section that shows the Ming Dynasty style of Great Wall construction, with large towers connected by solid walls. You’ll also see some unique features – like an enormous round tower that isn’t connected to the main line of wall – as well as a fortress with a maze and a Great Wall museum.
We’ll first explore the fortress, taking a look at the museum and then finding our way through the maze and up on to the Great Wall.
On this visit we can go three towers up on the west side of the Great Wall here. The wall on the west side keeps going up and up, including a 306-step mega-climb up the ’Heavenly Stairs’, but that part is currently closed for repairs.
We’ll climb up to the third tower and get a look at what’s coming up on the east side—a very steep climb up to the top towers!
Hiking back down the wall from the west side, we’ll cross over the Water Gate – an arched bridge over the river – and then start the big climb to the top.
The big climb to the top starts out on a zig-zagging trail. There’s no wall on the east side to begin with—the cliffs are so steep that a wall wasn’t needed.
Steep steps on the wall take us up to the top section, where we’ll do a short out-and-back hike to the top tower on the north side before heading south along the Great Wall towards Taipingzhai, another fort attached to the wall here. On the way to Taipingzhai we’ll pass through a handful of large towers, and from up on the ridge here we’ll have long views all around.
From Taipingzhai we’ll hike back down along a road, taking the ’horse road’ shortcut to get down to the river.
We’ll finish the hike by crossing the river and walking over to a local restaurant for a hot meal before heading back to Beijing.
Overall it’s a short hike – just about 7km – but the steepness makes it fairly difficult and we’ll take our time looking about. While you’re hiking, imagine trying to run up and down the Great Wall here. Does that sound like fun? The Huangyaguan Great Wall is the location of the original Great Wall Marathon—maybe one day you’ll be back for that!
Far away, expensive tickets
This hike is far outside Beijing, and the tickets for the Great Wall here are expensive. We’ll need at least 4 people signed up to be able to do this hike.