We start off with a walk through a village, stopping for a quick look at a 300-year-old performance stage. The houses in the village are mostly built from granite – likely sourced from a nearby quarry. After walking through the village we'll follow a slowly ascending path through the countryside, passing an isolated shrine, fields, and concrete water reservoirs as we circle Silver Mountain.
The path takes us into a small village on the other side of the ridge, and we'll follow dirt streets through its outskirts, walking past donkeys and old stone houses on the way to the chestnut orchards behind the village.
Around the hill behind the village we'll find what's called the "Valley of Mercy", and this is where the path starts to get a lot steeper, heading past more quarries and following a hillside trail up to the top of Holly Mountain. The valley is not too merciful to the legs. It's quite a good climb!
Towards the top we'll find the Silver Pagoda park trail, and climb its steps to the viewing platform at the top. We can look down on the pagodas from there, and will have an unobstructed 360° view of the surrounding mountain peaks and countryside.
From the top we'll follow the park trail down to the pagodas, passing "North Beijing's Number One Waterfall" and many other local landmarks. There are two big bells in the park and we will pass by one of them – it's quite common to hear them toll as we walk, and we'll make a short detour to take a look.
The site dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), with the pagodas built in the 1400s. The silver bells of the pagodas used to ring in the breeze, and are the source of the name of this peaceful spot. The temples are long gone, burned during war.
After we're done walking, we'll head to a local restaurant for a big meal before heading back to the city.-