The hike begins from a small village in the Jiankou area. Our local guide has a guesthouse here, and he's picked a nice spot—Jiankou is home to some of the most dramatic stretches of Great Wall in the Beijing area.
We'll start off the hike by following a zigzag hillside trail that rises quickly to a Great Wall tower that is almost 1,000 metres above sea level. From the tower we can see the Jiankou basin, as well as the many other sections of Great Wall in the area.
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.