Shunyi Hikers: Changyucheng Walled Village and the High Tower
Hike by a village reservoir and follow forest trails up into the mountains, heading for the High Tower on a tall peak. We’ll return to the village for a restaurant meal, and then explore the village, visiting the temple and checking out the the walls and arches of an old Ming Dynasty-era military barracks.
Deep in the mountains of Changping District is Changyucheng, a village that used to be a Ming Dynasty-era military barracks. On this visit we’ll follow easy trails in the forest and mountains behind the village reservoir, hike up a big hill to the ‘High Tower’, and then walk back down to the village for a late lunch/early dinner before exploring the village to see stone houses, the village temple, and the stone walls of the old barracks.
We start off with a warmup walk up the main street of the village, and then out to the reservoir. Stairs lead up past the dam of the reservoir, and we’ll then follow a short boardwalk around the reservoir to the forest.
The reservoir is the start and finish of a loop walk up into the mountains.
We’ll begin the loop by walking up through birch forest, following a paved trail up into a valley. The trail rises slowly for the first part, and then begins to zig-zag as the hills get steeper. Eventually we’ll be out of the forest and up on to a clear ridge where we’ll pass a tablet that marks the Beijing-Hebei border.
The views from the tablet include the reservoir and village far below, mountains all around, and a freshly planted line of wind turbines.
After a rest we’ll head on and up, following an easy trail through the hills. The trail is broad and well-formed, with views of Great Wall on faraway peaks.
The trail forks after about 30 minutes of easy walking. One fork leads up to the High Tower, and the other leads back down to the village.
Today we’re heading up to the High Tower, one of the highest Great Wall towers in Beijing. The tower is on fairly prominent peak, and sits at an elevation of around 1,440m above sea level.
The path to the top is on a well-formed trail with super views of mountains all around, and if it’s a clear day you’ll easily spot Beijing city through one of the gaps in the hills.
From the top you’ll have views on two sides of Great Wall disappearing into the mountains. Keen eyes might spot the Stone Valley Great Wall far below, which is one of our favourite ‘wild’ Great Wall hikes.
It’s a reasonably difficult climb up to the tower, and we’ll take our time on the way up.
We’ll also take a nice long break up top, as long as it’s not too chilly.
When it’s time to head down, we’ll follow the same track back down to the fork in the trail, and then down the fork and back to the reservoir.
The trail back down from the fork has some steep stairs to start, and then turns into a gravel track. We’ll hike out past the reservoir and back to the village.
After a hot meal at one of the village restaurants, we’ll have time to explore the village.
In the 1520s, this village was an important military base. The village was encircled by stone walls, some leading up the steep hills of the valley, and some of the arched entries and exits still remain. The thickness of the remaining walls give some indication of the level of fortification, and the importance of securing this pass, a sort-of shortcut around the heavily fortified Badaling mountain pass.
As well as the old walls, the village has several other sights to see: an old shrine which is alleged to cause difficulties for cameras; a restored-but-usually-closed temple with a large bell inside, and a giant old tree just outside the temple entrance.