On this hike we’ll visit small villages, walk through valleys, and follow a nice stretch of Great Wall in the area north of the Ming Tombs. The valleys in this area get quite crowded when the weather is nice, so we’re going to stay up in the higher valleys and follow the Great Wall.
We aim to begin by following a dirt trail down from the main road, walking through chestnut orchards to reach a small village. But earlier in the year we noticed that there was a big fence under construction. If the fence has become a permanent fixture, we’ll follow a longer concrete road down to the same 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 Great Wall is found in the middle section of this hike—about a quarter of the total distance.
In this first section of Great Wall, the climb to the second tower is a little steep. After that, though, the ups and downs are a little more gradual. The wall follows the ridgeline, allowing views of mountains on one side, and the Longquanyu Water Canyon on the other. In places, it is overgrown and bushy, sometimes tumbled down.
The Great Wall is often built up and down incredibly steep hillsides; a highlight of this section is a special spot where the wall meets a cliff that forms a natural barrier, the steps of the wall leading up to a sheer cliff. It makes a good spot for a short break, but there’s not much room for sitting. Quite obviously we cannot continue any further, so we’ll backtrack a little and take a hillside detour, walking through chestnut orchards to get back on to our second section of wall for the day.
The next section of wall has recently been renovated, and the walking is not too tough. Nearby is the Little West Lake, and a section of wall that has been renamed as the Water Great Wall by the local government. The wall all dips down into another valley, forested and leafy with a trickle of water running through it. On some of our hikes, we head down the valley, crossing the drawbridge that leads to the Little West Lake. Today we’ll head up the valley, following the stream past 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.
We’re going to eat at our new restaurant down in the village. 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!
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
- 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.