A loop hike through two lush valleys in the hills north of the Ming Tombs that goes through a bouldery area with a stream and pools of water.
The Two Valley walk is a loop hike through two lush valleys in the hills north of the Ming tombs. The trail crosses streams and pools, passes boulders and water-sculpted rocks, and we will also get a look at the Great Wall.
We begin by following a dirt trail down from the main road, walking through chestnut orchards to reach a small village.
From the village, we’ll take a semi-secret trail that leads from the orchards at the back of the village up to the Great Wall. A short climb will take us up to a tower on the wall, and another short, but steeper climb will get us up to one of the higher towers in the area. From the higher tower we’ll get a good view of the surrounding area, with mountains, valleys, and stretches of Great Wall all around.
The climb up to the second tower is optional, as we’ll need to head back down to the first tower to follow a hillside trail that will get us back to the concrete road. We’ll continue along the road, which will take us to a bridge that crosses the first of the two valleys. We’ll turn off before the bridge, and follow a dirt trail that will lead us deeper into the valley.
A stream runs down this valley, flowing toward the Little West Lake. By looking at the way that the rocks, boulders, and cliffs have been shaped by the flow of the water, we can tell that the stream used to flow quite powerfully – large rocks have been smoothed, boulders rolled, and large indentations and pools have been carved out of the cliffs.
It’s at one of the larger pools that we come to the only tricky section of this hike – a short hop over rocks to cross the stream, a short clamber over a smooth rock face, and then a little bit of a balancing act to skirt a large pool. If you’re not scared to get your feet wet, thus section becomes a lot easier – off with the shoes for a little paddling and wading through knee-deep water.
After a break by the pools we continue, following park trails to a little drawbridge. The drawbridge marks the upper region of the Little West Lake park, and if we continued down the valley, we’d arrive at the lake. Instead of that, we cross the drawbridge, and head up the second valley. We still have to buy the park tickets!
The second valley is a lot different to the first – it’s forested and leafy, and the stream that runs through it is just a trickle. Continuing up the valley, we’ll pass a tiny duck and goose farm, and a few curious looking buildings.
At the top of this valley is a trail that leads up to a pass on the ridge. The thirty-minute climb up to the ridge takes us through terraces and orchards. From the pass on the ridge, we head down a gravelly path, and end up a concrete road that joins the village below with the main road above – conveniently close to one of the old mine shafts that leaks cool air!
We’re going to walk down to the village and stop for lunch at one of the restaurants on its outskirts. They’ve got a friendly old dog, a nice yard, as well as a patio that should get a bit of sun at this time of day. Don’t eat too much! After finishing the food, we’ve got to walk 2km up the concrete road to get back to the bus!
Crossover with different hikes
The first and last parts of this hike are the same as our Longquanyu Loop and Great Wall hike.
What to bring on this hike
- Snacks to eat
- Sun protection: long-sleeved shirt, hat
- A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- Near the middle of the hike we have to climb over some boulders and get across a little stream. If you’re not good at balancing, you might not like this part of the hike very much.
- The concrete road is about 2km in length, and we’ll occasionally meet cars. It’s not the perfect way to finish the hike, but it’s the only way out of the valley that we’ve found so far.