Through the Hills to Baipu Temple | The White Buddha at Baipu Temple
The White Buddha at Baipu Temple.

Through the Hills to Baipu Temple

Hike a relatively mellow track through the mountains northwest of Beijing, reaching the quirky and intriguing Baipu Temple for a mid-afternoon look about.

Level 2+
3–4 hours of hiking and visiting, approx. 7km in total. (Can I do it?)

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A lot of visits here just cover the temple area – which is fine by itself, of course! – but we’ll make our visit a mini-pilgrimage by hiking in through the hills.

The hike

We start off at an out-of-the-way spot on the side of the road that goes over the mountains in the northwest of Beijing, stepping off the bus and right on to the trail.

The trail is flat to begin, but we’ll soon be starting the first climb of the day.

We’ll be hiking up a narrow valley, heading for a low ridge. Before 2023, this part of the hike would have been on a nice dirt track, passing through pine forest. But this area was hit hard by the Typhone Doksuri flooding mid-2023, and now the scenery features exposed tree roots and a lot of rocks that were previously covered by pine needles and top soil.

At the top of the valley we’ll turn off and hike up to a little pavilion on a low peak. We’ll take a break at the pavilion—a nice spot to gaze about the mountains, with views back to the Changping urban area if it’s a clear day.

Views on the trail to the temple
Views from the pavilion. (Click for larger image)

From the pavilion we’ll follow a track along the ridge for a short while before hiking down into a valley. This part of the track was mostly untouched by the torrents, but we’ll still see some slips.

The valley track eventually leads to the backdoor of Baipu Temple, but we’ll have to get by the pig farm first!

Getting by the pig farm
Getting by the pig farm. (Click for larger image)

The pig farm is in a narrowing of the valley, and the farmer has put fences across the narrow parts to keep the pigs in. It’s not a major obstacle, but we’ll need to climb a low fence to get in, and maybe balance our way along the top of a concrete wall if the road is blocked by the pigs.

After the pig farm, not far down the valley, we’ll get on to a concrete road. That road eventually brings us down to the temple, which is where the hiking part of our day finishes.

The temple

A closer look at the White Buddha at Baipu Temple
A closer look at the White Buddha at Baipu Temple. (Click for larger image)

Stelae at the Baipu ‘White Waterfall’ Temple site date it to the Liao Dynasty (916–1125), and there are carved tablets and stelae that date restorations and extensions to various times during the Jin(1115–1234), Yuan (1279–1368), Ming (1368–1644) dynasties, and the Republic of China era (1912–1949).

The temple has also been ruined a few times. During the Republic of China era the temple was destroyed by a local warlord who wanted the auspicious location for his own ancestral tombs. The temple was later rebuilt by local villagers. Veiled references and hints in Chinese-language sources suggest it was sacked again during the Cultural Revolution. Most of what’s seen there today was built between 2000 and 2016 by Abbott Huineng.

Of particular interest is the shrine inside a cave high on the hillside, the huge dragon sculptures, and the can’t-miss-it white Buddha surrounded by gold.

At the temple, you’ll be able to look around by yourself, or follow the guides about the main sites. We’ll set aside about 45 minutes for your tour of the temple.

To finish the day we’ll meet up in the temple carpark for the regular Beijing Hikers picnic.

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: Through the Hills to Baipu Temple

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