UPDATE 2014/8/28—changed departure times: 8:30am (8:00am from the subway)
Note: There are a few tricky bits on this hike—a slippery slope to negotiate near the end, and at one point the trail crosses gritty sandstone and gets a bit narrow. If you’re not so good with heights you might prefer to cross this section sitting down!
This is a mostly nice and easy walk, with one long climb, following a trail through chestnut orchards, up and down peaceful valleys, and along ridges in an area with views of the Great Wall all around.
At this time of year, they should be starting to harvest the chestnuts, which will make this visit a good way to see how Mr Mao earns his money for the year.
We’ll begin the walk by walking up the valley from the village. Near the head of the valley we’ll take a short break and a detour to look at a waterfall and pool. From the head of the valley we will make our way up to the ridge and follow an old trail up through the trees.
The trail up to the ridgeline zig-zags up the slope, and will probably be a little scratchy where it’s overgrown. After reaching the ridgeline, the trail flattens out a little and takes us through a pine forest, and then through a field of sandstone rocks and hills. When we’re on the sandstone the trail gets a little bit slippery, and there is one short section that narrows as it skirts a big boulder.
While we’re walking down from the ridge can see all the Great Wall towers that make up our Fifteen Towers hike on one side; in the other direction we can see the route of our Four Towers hike. On clear days we’ve been able to get some postcard-quality photos of the Great Wall and mountains.
Another slippery – but soft underfoot – descent takes us down into the chestnut orchards, and we finish up using stepping stones to cross a river before heading to Mr. Mao’s guest house for a nice lunch of home-style cooking.
Nature interpretation: On this hike we will be accompanied by Betsy Taylor, an experienced Naturalist who will keep an eye out for interesting flora, fauna, and geology while we walk. Stick close to her if you’re interested to learn more about what we see on the hike, and she’ll talk about anything we find.
What to bring on this hike
- Sun protection: hat, sunscreen, long-sleeved shirt
- A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
- Comfortable shoes for walking
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- There are a few steep and slippery sections
- Parts of the trail will be overgrown and bushy