The Mutianyu Great Wall is a well known tourist attraction, and the majority of visitors get up and down via cable car. There are more interesting ways to get up there, and this hike is one of them!
We’ll begin at a place called Lotus Pond – it’s the name of the village, as well as the nearby pool constructed by a lotus-loving Great Wall-guarding General during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD).
There’s not much chance for a warmup on this hike – we start the climb up to the wall immediately, and it’s a fairly steep climb. We’ll take it slow, though – no big hurry.
Once we get up on to the wall we’ll stop for a break and will take a look inside a nearby Great Wall tower. When everyone is up and well-rested we’ll keep going, starting with a short-but-steep climb up to the next tower.
The wall here is unrestored, not commonly visited, and it has trees and bushes growing all over it. The trail up is usually clear in winter, when all the leaves have fallen, but in summer it gets quite bushy. We’ll get a little shade from the sun, but will have to push through a few scratchy sections.
As we near the highest point on this section of the wall, we’ll reach a very good lookout point: a tower that’s fallen down a bit, with a nice flat spot on top. From here we’ll have excellent views of the entire Mutianyu Great Wall.
The wall at Mutianyu dates back to the Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577). By the time of the Ming Dynasty, the Northern Qi wall was in ruins. Extensive repair work and construction was done in 1404, with further renovations made in 1569. After that, it wasn’t touched until 1991, when it was rebuilt for tourism.
On our way up to the lookout point we’ll have seen what the wall looks like now, after at least 400 years of weathering; at Mutianyu, we’ll be able to see what the wall might have looked like when it was first built.
We’ll walk a good stretch of the restored wall at Mutianyu, and then head down to the carpark to finish the hike.
There are a few options to finish: walk over towards the second cable car, and then down the park trail to finish (longest version, more wall); walk down the hill trail that starts from the first chairlift (shorter version); or buy a ticket for the toboggan or chairlift and head down that way (shortest and fastest version).
Once everyone has arrived down at the carpark we’ll head to our favourite local restaurant for a tasty late lunch before heading back to Beijing.
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
- Snacks to eat
- Warm clothes
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- It’s a short hike, but parts are quite steep and there’s quite a lot of uphill.
- The first half of the hike features several sections that are sure to be overgrown.