This walk 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.
Along the way we’ll pass through many towers. At one point we’ll have an option – take a forest detour past an old meeting place that would make a very good campsite, or climb up and down a steep broken down section of wall that’s named the Ox-Horn.
We’ll end up at the eastern end of the Mutianyu Great Wall, and follow it all the way over to the west side. The Mutianyu section officially ends at a large tower—walk through the tower and you’ll see the sign that says it’s “Forbidden to continue.” We’re not going that way, though: we’re going to head off following a spur in the wall, walking a few towers of another unrestored branch. We’ll follow this spur up to its terminus for a great view of the surrounding area. After reaching the end of that section, we’ll backtrack towards the tower and descend down a pleasant valley path through peaceful farmed terraces.
The valley trail ends at the paved road in the village at Mutianyu that leads up to the car park for the developed tourism area. The bus will pick us up here, and it’s a short drive to the restaurant where we’ll have a delicious lunch before heading back to the city.
What to bring on this hike
- Plenty of snacks to eat while hiking
- Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- There’s a lot of downhill while on the wall, which may give you sore knees if you’re not used to long hikes.