This hike is a new version of our old ‘Ancient Horse Hoofprints’ hike, which we stopped doing after a big road was built right through the middle of the hiking trail. We’ve found a new start point which adds a longer walk on the Jingxi Ancient Road and avoids the big road.
We start off near a village that sits at a crossroads on the Jingxi Ancient Road, a network of old trails and trading routes that cross over the mountains in the west of Beijing.
After a short drive into the hills behind the village we stay on the path of the trading route, making a slow climb up 'Flower Valley' into the hills.
Part of the way up into the hills we'll come to a split in the trail, and we'll either go the steep way – a chain-assisted clamber up a cliff – or take a more meandering route around. (On this visit we’re planning to do the chains route. See some photos below.)
After the chains sections the trail flattens out, and we’ll walk up into a long valley. Near the top of the valley is a semi-abandoned village, and we usually stop here for a lunch break.
After that lunch break we’ll continue up steep trails to a pass in the mountains. On the other side of the pass is a long trail that leads down to the outskirts of Beijing city, and it’s down this trail that coal from the mountains was carried down to Beijing. We’ll do a little detour to check out the ‘ancient horse hoofprints’ (or ‘horse hoofprint-like geological features’) left by the pack animals that transported the coal.
Instead of heading straight down, we’ll add on extra distance by following a firebreak track up by one of the higher peaks in the area. The firebreak track offers long views before heading into a forested area, and it’s easy walking after a climb at the beginning. We’ll pass ramshackle buildings and stop for a break before the long, tricky walk down to finish in the village far below.