Usually when we do an ‘extra’ hike, the extra comes at the end.
On this one we’re adding the extra right at the start, hiking a part of recently repaired (but still rough and tricky) Great Wall on the east side of the Great Wall at Jiankou. Our local guide told us he thinks this extra section is the most beautiful part of the whole Jiankou Great Wall.
It is rough and tricky, though. We’re going to avoid the dangerous big cliffs, but you will need to take care on some steep and tricky ascents and descents, as well as a few narrow sections.
After a short hike up a dirt road and then a dirt track, we reach the ‘Jiankou’ section of the Jiankou Great Wall. The word ‘jiankou’ means ‘arrow nock’, and the steep V-shaped dip in the Great Wall here inspired that name.
A few years back some basic repair work was done here to stop the Great Wall crumbling away. The workers did a good job, and the repairs make it safer to hike. (Previously it was extremely difficult to hike, as well as slightly unsafe.)
We’ll be following the Great Wall to the west, heading for Zhenbei Tower. Along the way we’ll be hiking up and down steep steps and stairs, passing through towers, clambering up some rocks, and taking short detours around broken or dangerous sections.
The wall will lead us to the big cliffs below Zhenbei Tower. We won’t be taking the cliffs route up to the tower – this is the dangerous part at Jiankou, and nearly every year there’s news about serious accidents on this section.
We’ll detour off the wall to get around the cliffs, joining up with the top section of our regular Jiankou to Mutianyu and Beigou Village hiking trail, and hiking up to Zhenbei Tower.
From there we'll head east, following the wall towards Mutianyu. There is some steep climbing, and you'll need a good head for heights and some balancing skills – at some points the Great Wall is overgrown with bushes, and this will force us to walk along the very edge, quite high above the ground.
We'll end up at the northwestern end of the Mutianyu Great Wall and we’ll follow the wall down towards the main park area. On previous visits here we’ve heard the din of all the visitors to Mutianyu off in the distance—surprisingly loud!
We’re going to avoid all that and hike a paved trail down the hillside to Beigou Village, passing through tidy chestnut orchards on our way down to the village square.
We’ll finish the day with a Beijing Hikers-style picnic in the town square.