NOTE: the focus of this hike isn’t the Great Wall, and if this is your one chance to see the wall it’s probably not the best fit. But if you’re interested in a long walk through the Beijing countryside, and a post-lunch climb up to a pretty stretch of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall, this is an excellent choice!
On this hike we will pass by three different countryside villages: a good opportunity to compare the big-city lifestyle in Beijing to that of the rural residents of small hamlets that you’d miss in a blink if driving. There’s not much in this area to attract casual visitors, which practically guarantees a peaceful day out.
The villages are poetically named: Auspicious Village, Northern Palace, and Eastern Palace. Auspicious Village at least had a few temples (until the Cultural Revolution), but we’ve yet to find traces of palaces in the others.
We’ll start from the small market square of Auspicious Village, and then head out the back of the village, following a countryside trail through farmland and past chestnut orchards. We’ll be heading towards the end of a long valley, where we’ll find a hill trail that takes us up and over a ridge.
The hill trail up the valley is one of two climbs for the day, rising 130m over just under 1km.
At the top of the trail is a tall tree that serves as a landmark for the pass that crosses the ridge here. On the way up to the top we’ll be able to see behind us much of the trail we already walked, and from a lookout at the pass, we’ll be able to see most of the trail that we’ll follow to finish … provided the weather is clear enough!
We’ll head down the trail on the other side of the pass, passing a mysterious factory and crossing a road on the way to the clearing in the chestnut trees where we’ll stop for our snack break.
After our snack break we’ll head on, passing several little pig farms and walking through tiny Northern Palace Village on the way to the second climb for the day—this one a little easier than the first.
During this part of the hike we’ll be able to see a stretch of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall on a ridge above it, and we’ll follow a trail below that ridge on the way down to Eastern Palace Village, where we’ll finish the hike.
We’ll meet our bus and then drive around to a restaurant at the foot of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall – the same stretch that we saw earlier, up on the ridgeline.
Don’t eat too much for lunch – we’re going to climb up on that same stretch of Great Wall before we head home!
To get up on to the wall takes about 20 minutes, on a hill trail that is sometimes slippery. Once on the wall, you have the option to take it easy and enjoy the views of the surrounding hills and the reservoir below, or to to climb up further for even better views. We’ll spend around about sixty minutes exploring the wall here before we head back to Beijing.
What to bring on this outing
- Plenty of snacks
- Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat
- Comfortable shoes with some grip on the soles
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- On this hike we have views of the Great Wall at times, and we make a short climb up on to part of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall at the end of the day. But for most of the hike we’re following hill trails through the countryside, and this isn’t a hike with a Great Wall focus. (If you’d like advice on a good Great Wall hike, please get in touch!)
- Villagers have concreted some of the old trails to make it easier to get their harvest of chestnuts out to market, and we’ll be following some of those concreted paths on this hike.