Quarrymen’s Trail to the Heavenly Lake
Walk up and down valleys and over hills on the way from a small valley village over to the Ming Tombs area, passing by one of the closed tombs on the way to the huge hill we'll climb to get to the Heavenly Lake. 17km with more than 1,000m of elevation gain on the way to the end.
Holiday traffic: There’s a chance we’ll get stuck in bad traffic at some point during the drive, and we might be back to Beijing later than estimated. We’d recommend not making fixed plans for the evening, just in case!
This is a good long hike in the Ming Tombs area in Changping District and we’re going to make it extra tough by adding on the big climb up to the local Heavenly Lake, a reservoir built on top of a big hill. Your legs may not thank you the next day, but your effort will have been rewarded with with views of mountains, valleys, pine forests, rocky outcrops, and a view of the strangely-sited reservoir.
The hike starts off at a village at the end of a road up a deep valley. From the village we head further up the valley, following old paths past big trees and the terraced fields that are worked by the local villagers. After approximately forty minutes of walking, the fields begin to give way to forest, and we’ll get on to a trail that leads up to a clearing on on the ridge at the top of the valley.
The clearing and the trail beyond used to be maintained by the quarrymen who work in the neighbouring valley, and from the clearing we can usually see dust rising from the quarry. We’ll follow their trail down into the valley on the other side of the ridge. It’s interesting the way that the vegetation is different on the two sides of this ridge – pines and forest on one side, coloured rocks and different flora on the other.
Before we reach the quarry, we’ll turn off on to an old road, and follow it to the outskirts of an abandoned village. There are several empty villages in the area, likely abandoned due to lack of water, but perhaps also because of the expansion of the quarry. Instead of continuing into the village, we’ll follow a trail that leads from the village up through more terraces, eventually crossing over to the Changping side of the hills through a saddle on the ridge.
From the saddle we’ll head downhill, following a good path down and out a valley, passing a small dam and heading for the Tomb Caretakers’ Village, a little walled village that was home to the people who used to look after the tombs.
Here’s where the hike gets tough: the village is at 152m above sea level, and the reservoir is at 562m. We will have walked about 13km already and now we’ve got a big climb to do, with an elevation gain of almost 450m over about 3km on a trail that is rather steep in places. There will be cold beer waiting for you at the bus. Sound good? Sign yourself up!
Holiday traffic: this weekend is a big holiday, and we might get stuck in traffic going there or coming back. Bring a book or other entertainment, just in case!
What to bring on this hike
- Lunch and snacks to eat
- Warm clothes in case it gets chilly
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- The climb up to the reservoir is going to be tough
- The middle section of the trail is brushy and scratchy in places