We’d usually do this hike the other way around because of some steep sections that are easier to go up than down, but the village on that end of the trail won’t let us up on the wall. (Coming down and out is fine, though.) It’s an excellent hike, so we’ll get on the trail by going backwards.
The hike involves a lot of climbing and scrambling, and you’ll need strong legs and a good head for heights to make it to the end.
In particular, if you’re not comfortable with making a short-but-steep descent on somewhat tricky terrain – using your hands to hang on to tree limbs as you lower yourself off boulders, and holding on tight as you negotiate steep dirt tracks – we’d recommend you try a different hike.
Please contact us if you’re not sure about suitability. (We’d normally hike up this tricky section, but we’re doing the reverse version on this visit.) If it looked like the trail would be slippery, we’d likely cancel this hike and go somewhere else instead.
We start off in Xizhazi Village, a small settlement that is surrounded by a loop of wall.
We’ll hike hill trails up to the Great Wall on the southern side of the village. The trails start off reasonably mellow, but get steeper as we climb through forest.
When we hit the wall, up top on the ridge, we’ll turn right and head up to the ‘Chinese Knot’ area.
The Chinese Knot (also known as the Beijing Knot) is the point where Beijing’s inner and outer lines of Great Wall join up—the inner wall coming from the Huanghuacheng direction and continuing past Mutianyu and out to the northeast, and the outer wall heading out towards Yanqing District and then farther into Hebei Province.
Just past the Knot, the wall gets really steep and really broken. We’ll hop off on to a side trail to go around that. The side trail is also tricky—a steep dirt path that’s interrupted by boulders and tree limbs, with some places that are just a little bit uncomfortable to stretch your legs over.
After a bit of scrambling down there, we’ll be back on to firmer footing, following the wall down to the Zhuanghu dip.
From the dip, we’ll follow the wall up and get on to our Great Wall Spur hiking trail, right at its highest point. We’ll follow a pretty stretch of unrestored wall through several towers, down a long line of wall that heads west.
As we hike down the wall we’ll spot a super steep section on the hills in front of us. This part is much too steep for us to walk on safely, so we’ll get off the wall and follow a hill trail down to the road below.
From that point the hike is pretty much over and done, with just a flat walk through a little village to finish.