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Over the Hills to the Ming Tombs

In Brief: A nice long hill-walking hike that will show you some of the sights of Beijing’s countryside and give your legs a good workout at the same time.

Over the Hills to the Ming Tombs | Looking down towards the Ming Tombs area

Up in the mountains above the Ming Tombs area.

Key information

  • 4–5 hours start to finish over 14km

Note: the wild valley in the middle of this hike will be fairly brushy and scratchy.

For this hill-walking ramble we’ll join parts of two different hikes together to make up a longer trail that takes us over the hills to two of the closed Ming Tombs, following old hill trails and passing through a few small country villages along the way.

We’ll climb over three ridges on this hike – none too tall, but still a good workout for the legs.

The first ridge is the easiest, with a long slow climb to reach a shrine and pine tree behind the village where we begin our Silver Pagodas hike. We’ll walk through the village and out that back, following a dirt road that leads up to some stone quarries. At a fork in the main road we’ll make a turn to get to the top of the ridge, where we’ll find the old shrine and a pine tree and take a quick look.

From the shrine and the pine we head down a long valley to get to Wangbaochuan Village, a small settlement in Changping District that has enough long-lived residents to have earned the nickname ‘Longevity Village’. We’ll stroll through the village streets before following field trails up to the top of the second ridge, passing through all the terraced chestnut fields that are a major source of income for the villagers.

As we get closer to the point where we cross over the ridge, the trail starts to zig-zag as it climbs up the hillside, eventually rising to the saddle between two peaks—a good place for a rest!

The second ridge is the tallest of the three, and we’ll cross at about 600m above sea level.

From the saddle, we follow a steeper and largely disused trail down into the valley on the other side. This is perhaps the most scenic section of the hike, with steep hills on either side of the trail covered with plentiful greenery.

In some places the greenery is plentiful indeed, and overhanging branches and leaves make the trail narrow at times, and somewhat scratchy – one of the reasons we recommend trousers and long sleeves for this hike.

Near the bottom of the valley, we pass through a nice narrow ravine before arriving at the village on the other side of the hill.

We’ll take a break for lunch in the town square before continuing up to the top of the third ridge – the lowest by altitude of the three ridges, but a longer climb than the other two, with about 240m difference in altitude from the top to the bottom. There’s an optional extension as well, on an up and back trail to visit a trig on the highest hill in the area.

From the top of the third ridge, we’ll follow a gravel trail that was blazed when power lines were put in. The path winds through scraggly pines and takes us down a ridgeline, passing a small dam on the way out to one of the closed Ming Tombs, where we’ll finish our hike with some beer and snacks.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • Parts of the trail will be brushy and scratchy – we think we’re the only ones who hike through there nowadays.
  • We don’t visit any of the Ming Tombs on this outing, but we will walk by a few of the tombs that are closed to the public.

There are risks involved in hiking. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Level4

Level of difficulty

Level 4 hikes will usually take 4 hours to complete, and will be difficult for people who are not used to hiking or are out of shape.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: 14km
  • Time to complete: 4–5 hours
  • Total ascent: 680m
  • Total descent: 850m
  • Start height: 337m
  • Peak: 595m
  • Finish height: 167m
  • Location: Changping
  • Drive time: 2 hours each way

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