On this hike we will walk through three different countryside villages, a good opportunity to compare the big-city lifestyle in Beijing to that of the rural residents of small hamlets that you’d miss in a blink if driving. There’s not much in this area to attract casual visitors, which practically guarantees a peaceful day out.
The villages are poetically named: Auspicious Village, Northern Palace, and Eastern Palace. Auspicious Village at least had a few temples (until the Cultural Revolution), but we’ve yet to find traces of palaces in the others.
We’ll start from the small market square of Auspicious Village, and then head out the back of the village, following a countryside trail through farmland and past chestnut orchards. We’ll be heading towards the end of a long valley, where we’ll find a hill trail that takes us up and over a ridge.
The hill trail up the valley is one of two climbs for the day, rising 130m over just under 1km.
At the top of the trail is a tall tree that serves as a landmark for the pass that crosses the ridge here. On the way up to the top we’ll be able to see behind us much of the trail we already walked, and from a lookout at the pass, we’ll be able to see most of the trail that we’ll follow to finish … plus maybe a glimpse of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall off in the far distance.
We’ll head down the trail on the other side of the pass, passing a mysterious factory and crossing a road on the way to the clearing in the chestnut trees where we’ll stop for our snack break.
After our snack break we’ll head on, passing several little pig farms and walking through tiny Northern Palace Village on the way to the second climb for the day—this one a little easier than the first.
During this part of the hike we’ll be able to see that stretch of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall on a ridge above, and we’ll follow a trail below that ridge on the way down to Eastern Palace Village, where we’ll finish the hike.
We’ll meet our bus and then drive around to a restaurant at the foot of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall – the same stretch that we saw earlier, up on the ridgeline.