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Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

In Brief: An easier version of one of our tough Great Wall hikes in Yanqing District – the same great scenery, but less of the steep climbs up and down.

The General’s Tower on the middle route of the Switchback Great Wall

The General’s Tower on the Switchback Great Wall. View more photos »

Key information

  • 3–4 hours start to finish over 7.5km.

Bring your passport / ID card (or a copy) with you on this hike in case the border crossing guards decide they want to check us on the way out.

UPDATE: We’d planned to do the Stone Valley Great Wall hike, but large-scale construction behind Stone Valley village means that area is best avoided right now—too many huge trucks are rolling around, making it a bit dangerous! The Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall follows the exact same line of Great Wall, but starts and finishes on the other side of the hill.

This stretch of Great Wall in Yanqing County is extremely picturesque and seldom visited, but the steepness of it makes it difficult for casual hikers. On this visit we’ll do the ‘middle route,’ cutting out the toughest parts to make it a little easier. There are still some steep climbs to do, but overall this hike isn’t long enough to rate as difficult - we’ll take our time climbing up and down and make sure that we have a relaxed and enjoyable visit.

We’ll begin this hike with a slow climb up a winding valley, passing rocks and old terraces on the way to the dirt trail that will lead us to the Great Wall. On one side, the wall comes down a steep hill; we’ll follow it the other way, passing through a tower and taking our time to climb the steps of this section.

As we get to the top of that part, we’ll see the road we drove in on, far below, as well more of the Great Wall in the area, including the ‘General’s Tower’ that is the highest point of the hike. During peak season, the General’s Tower may double as a shop – we’ve yet to see it in service, but inside is a bench, and a sign that reads “1 yuan to use” the shaky ladder which is now the only way to enjoy the views from the top of the tower. To reach the General’s Tower, we will do a few more descents and ascents along the wall, climbing steps up and down.

From the General’s Tower the hike gets much easier, as the wall starts to follow a ridgeline instead of running up and down the sides of valleys. We’ll do some hillside detours around the steep and slippery parts until we reach the trail that will lead us back down to the valley and the bus, and the countryside restaurant where we’ll get our lunch.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • It’s not a very long hike, but parts of it are rather steep.
  • We occasionally meet bad traffic on the way, going through the Badaling pass.

There are risks involved in hiking. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Level3+

Level of difficulty

Level 3+ is a ‘tougher’ moderate hike. There may be long climbs up hills, and there may be steep sections.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: 7.5km
  • Time to complete: 3–4 hours
  • Total ascent: 414m
  • Total descent: 420m
  • Start height: 682m
  • Peak: 1,036m
  • Finish height: 686m
  • Location: Yanqing
  • Drive time: 2 hours each way

Hikes in Beijing

We publish our hike schedule month by month, with updates around the 10th of each month.

If you're interested in hikes and trips during a month that's not yet listed, use our contact form to let us know and we'll send you a quick email when the schedule is online.

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