Zhenzhu Lake Tops | Views from the cliffs above Zhenzhu Lake
Views from the cliffs above Zhenzhu Lake

Zhenzhu Lake Tops

Hike the old Qingchashan track up to the clifftops on the east side of Zhenzhu Lake for views of the lake far below, with mountains and canyons and cliffs all around.

Level 4
4–5 hours start to finish over approx.10km (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

Contact us for schedule updates or set up a private hike

The hike starts at a truly obscure location in Mentougou’s mountains.

Heading out west on the old National Highway, we take a tiny turn off on to a narrow road built out to serve a now-decommissioned power plant and its train station, and then turn off that narrow road into the Nanshiyang Grand Canyon, following a concrete road that is even narrower.

The cliffs of the canyon rise vertically, hundreds of meters above the canyon floor. We’ll eventually arrive at a gap in the cliffs, the beginning of the poetically-named Walnut Valley.

Be ready for a difficult one, just in case.

We’re planning to do the Walnut Valley trail to the tops, instead of the Power Lines Trail.

To get on to the Power Lines Trail we’d need to skirt some barbed wire to get on to the track, and then the trail starts on a steep track that immediately gains more than 350m of elevation over just 1.4km—a very difficult climb!

The Walnut Valley trail is much gentler, but it looks like someone wants to build a road through the valley. If they’re doing heavy work when we visit it might be tough to get through.

We’ll go for the Walnut Valley trail first, and if it’s absolutely impossible we’ll use the Power Lines Trail as a backup.

Walnut Valley trail

The hike starts out gradually, hopping over rocks in a rill formed by a washout.

At a fork further up the valley we’ll turn on to the Qingchashan Trail, once upon a time used by travellers crossing over the hills and by farmers making their way to flatter sections of land atop the canyon cliffs.

After a short climb to cross a ridge, we’ll get on to gentle trails that lead into an area of land terraced with stone walls. The walls are in good shape still, and we’ll see the foundations of some old houses.

In an area of terraces on the Qingchashan trail.
In an area of terraces on the Qingchashan trail. (Click for larger image)

We’ll cross another ridge, and then make a climb on a zig-zagging trail to reach the tops of the cliffs above Zhenzhu Lake.

Some care is required in the cliffs area, as the trail runs close to the edge of the cliffs.

Here we’ll take a tour of the main outlooks, with some lovely views of the green lake far below, plus expansive views of mountains, canyons, and cliffs.

The hike finishes with a long descent on winding gravel tracks to come down from the cliffs.

Further down we’ll find some more farming tracks to follow, and after making our way out of a washed-out valley, we’ll walk down a gravel road passing the mostly-abandoned dormitories and housing built to accompany the old power plant.

Looking down toward the old power plant
Looking down toward the old power plant. (Click for larger image)

We’ll serve up snacks and drinks by the old railway bridge, and then head back to Beijing.

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: Zhenzhu Lake Tops

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