On this 13km hike we’ll join sections of two good Changping trails by visiting what remains of two valley villages that were abandoned as a quarry expanded.
We start out at Longevity Village, the midpoint of our Silver Pagodas hike. We’re not heading for the pagodas, though. Instead, we’re going to head off on our Mines and Pines trail, one of our old favourites.
After walking through the chestnut orchards that surround Longevity Village, we start climbing up into the hills, following a narrow trail up and over several ridges and through the hills to the west of the Silver Pagodas. We’ll be able to see the mountain behind the Silver Pagodas, and may hear the giant bell ringing.
The trail that leads down towards the mines is not commonly walked, and gets very bushy during summer.
We’ll start to see pine trees, and will soon start down a winding dirt trail, passing closed-off mine passages and the piles of mine tailings from previous digs. The trail flattens out, and turns into a gravel road that joins the main road through the village below the Silver Pagoda park. Before we get to the road, we’ll take a turn and head back into the hills, following a trail up a valley to a ridge, and then down towards two abandoned villages.
Hidden deep at the top of a long valley, the two villages emptied out around the turn of the century. A large quarry at the foot of the valley kept getting bigger, and eventually expanded to cover both sides of the only road up the valley. It’s this quarry that also forced us change the start point of our original Tomb Raiders trail.
Walking through the villages, we’ll see the remains of the stone houses. In the right season there are pears and hawthorns to be had, as the old orchards of the villages still bear fruit. Following the trail down, we’ll join up with our old Tomb Raiders trail and head back into the hills before we reach the giant quarry.
Joining the old Tomb Raiders trail we will walk up a valley, passing well-built terraces on the way up to a pass. From the pass we follow a trail along the hillside, aiming for a lookout point from where we can get excellent views of the broad valley that contains the thirteen Ming Tombs.
From the lookout, we’ll follow a good trail down towards two of the closed Ming Tombs, passing a small dam on the way out.
We’ll finish up near a large stelae-carrying tortoise. This sort of tortoise statue is known as a bixi, and is one of the nine “Offspring of the Dragon”.
We’ll set up our tables for a little picnic of snacks and cold drinks; when we’re done with those, we’ll head back to Beijing.