We started doing hikes in the West Hills area while almost everywhere else was closed during lockdowns. We thought the hikes here might not quite be the sort we usually go for, but the area actually has a lot of options and the views from the high parts are especially nice. We’re hoping the hills will be extra especially nice with the autumn colour showing.
Our ‘over the hills’ hike here used to start out south of the Forest Park, but one time our guides got in trouble bringing us too close to a military zone. This new version of the hike begins between the Botanical Gardens and Xiangshan. We still finish at the Forest Park.
We get on the trail where Beijing’s suburbs meet the mountains, hiking a hill track up to the firebreak road that skirts the higher hills.
That firebreak road takes us up to a peak with great views all around.
Across a valley to the south is the peak of Xiangshan.
Down into that valley goes our trail. Our high point on the north side is at an elevation of about 675m, the bottom of the valley is about 430m, and then on the other side we go up to about 500m again. Quite a dip!
Near the dip is the ‘Hanging Armour’ tower, which we pass on other hikes in the area.
Coming out of the dip, we end up right behind the peak of Xiangshan. Our trail then takes us down into a valley, following a dirt track towards the Nanmachang Reservoir.
The hills around the reservoir are one of the best places to see autumn colours in Beijing. (In spring the blooms are not bad, either.)
We’ll follow the boardwalk by the reservoir, and then get on to the hill track that will take us up to the tops of the Western Hills Forest Park.
From the top of the Forest Park we’ll hike by the ‘Laughing Ghost Rock’ viewpoint, and if it’s a clear day we’ll have great views of Beijing in front of us as we hike the stairs down to finish at the East Gate of the park area.
If the park is very busy on the day we visit our bus might not be able to get all the way into the carpark, in which case we’d need to hike out a bit further. This might affect our post-hike picnic location, too.