Tianmenshan Loop | Hiking up through a forested valley
Hiking up through a forested valley.

Tianmenshan Loop

Hike rough and obscure tracks through forested valleys and hills to the west of the Miyun Reservoir, and finish the day with a leg workout on the stairs that lead up to a massive rock arch with a reservoir-spanning overlook.

Level 5
Rough tracks and extended climbs. 6–7 hours over 18km (Can I do it?)

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We’ve done the hike up to the Tianmenshan rock arch by itself as a Level 2 hike, and even then it’s tough on the legs, with 1.5km of stairs and steps to climb on the way up to the arch and reservoir lookout.

Add that stair climb at the end of an already-difficult hike along 14km of tricky hill trails, and you’ve definitely got a solid Level 5 hike.

The Tianmenshan rock arch
The Tianmenshan rock arch. (Click for larger image)

The hike

We’ll start off at the lower carpark of the Tianmenshan Scenic area, and walk up a narrow concrete road to get to the ticket office.

The narrow concrete road continues past the ticket office to the upper carpark, and just past there we’re on to the farm tracks and hiking trails in the forested hills and valleys on the west side of the scenic area.

We follow a streambed up through a narrow valley that eventually opens up. We’ll see traces of farmed areas—stone terraces, old chestnut and walnut trees, and piles of stones and rocks that used to be little farm houses.

Past the farmed area, the trail follows the stream up into a re-wilding forest, passing boulders, mossy rocks and stones, and flat slabs of rock wetted by trickles of rainwater caught by the hills and mountains.

Hiking around exposed rock
Hiking around slabs of rock in a forested valley. (Click for larger image)

We’re aiming for a pass in the high cliffs, and it will feel like it takes forever to get there, hopping across the stream, picking a path around boulders, dodging nettles, and zig-zagging up towards the top.

After crossing the pass we’ll head down into the valley on the other side, and then take a turn up a rocky cut to cross over at another pass. This time it’s not quite as long a climb.

On the way down from that second pass, gaps in the foliage reveal views of the Miyun Reservoir far below.

A well-formed trail down from the pass forks at a barbed wire fence. If we ducked under the fence and kept going straight we’d end up at Heilongtan, another popular Miyun-area scenic attraction.

But we’re going to do our third hill, following the barbed wire fence up to another pass in the mountains.

The barbed wire fence is the major annoyance on this hike. It’s been strung right on top of the old trail over the hills, and we’ll need to be careful to avoid scratches.

And then it’s back down to the Tianmenshan scenic area, following dirt tracks and a bouldery riverbed back to that upper carpark.

And then … the 1.5km of stairs, with 300m of ascent up to the rock arch, . At this point you may like to weigh up the effort versus the reward of that big climb. If it’s a clear day, then definitely go for it. If you want to test out your calf muscles, then definitely go for it. If you’re already tired, or it’s not such a clear day … maybe go for it?

Views of the Miyun Reservoir from the Tianmenshan rock arch overlook
Yeah, go for it. (Click for larger image)

Either way, sooner or later, we’ll end up back at that lower carpark to finish the hike.

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The current precautions are minimal. Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

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Photos and trip reports: Tianmenshan Loop

  1. Tianmenshan Loop hike, 2022/09/24

    Tianmenshan Loop hike, 2022/09/24

    See 26 photos from a big hike at Tianmenshan, starting with a walk on wild trails in the mountains and finishing with the big stairclimb up to the Tianmenshan rock arch.

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