This hike is not too tough, but the middle section is all uphill. There’s not much walking on flat ground until right at the end of the hike. It's also a little more expensive than our regular visits to Tiger Valley, because the tickets for Ding Tomb are a little more expensive.The hike starts from the Tiger Valley park in Changping, and follows a mountain trail up and over a ridge, passing a reservoir on the way. The park management have built a road up the valley—unecessarily, in our opinion. We won’t walk on the road for too long, and will soon be heading for the hills.
After climbing up a hill trail on the far side of the reservoir, we’ll come to a fairly tricky section of trail where we’ll need to clamber over exposed rocks. You’ll need good balance for this 5–10 minute part of the hike, and if you’re not fond of heights it will not be enjoyable – please take this into consideration when booking this hike, especially if you are making a reservation for friends.
After crossing the rocks, we continue to climb, following a hill trail that is steep in sections. After 30–40 minutes we’ll reach the highest point of the hike, and it’s all down from there, following a leafy path down through a valley. We’ve often found small rabbit snares on this section of trail.
There are a lot of wild cherry trees in this area, making this a great hike for spring when all the blossoms are out.
Towards the end of the valley we’ll pass a small settlement with chickens and noisy dogs. We’ll continue on and out of the valley, and follow a dry riverbed to end up at one of the Ming Tombs. This particular tomb was built by a Ming Dynasty emperor for one of his wives. Sometimes we take a look inside this tomb, but today we're going to drive on to Ding Tomb, after we finish our snacks and drinks.
Dingling: 'The Tomb of Stability'
Dingling is the tomb of the Wanli Emperor, Zhu Yijun, who was reigned from 1573 until 1620. His tomb is one of the largest in the Ming Tombs area. The highlight of the tomb complex is definitely the 'Underground Palace' where he was entombed, 27 metres underground.
We’ll explore the grounds of the tomb before heading underground. As well as big halls and towers, old trees and gates, and, of course, big red walls, there is a small museum that contains replicas of some of the treasures found when the tomb was excavated.
Ming Tombs weekend: the Tomb Raiders hike on Saturday, May 4 takes you past two of the closed Ming Tombs, and on to the Sacred Way, the offical entrance to the Ming Tombs during the Ming Dynasty.
What to bring on this hike
- Lunch and snacks
- Sun protection: hat, long-sleeved shirt
- 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 tricky climb over some rocks that will not be much fun if you are don't like exposure to heights.
- The trail could be brushy and scratchy in places.