This hike is a version of our Silver Pagodas hike that skips out all the quarrying going on near the start of that route – this version is short and sweet, but it’s a steep climb up to the highest point!
We’ll start off with an easy walk down the sealed road that leads to Longevity Village, a tidy settlement in the Changping hills. It’s named Longevity Village because many of the villagers live to a ripe old age. If the weather is good, we often see many of the elderly inhabitants out for a walk and a chat with their neighbours.
Walking out the back of the village we’ll get on to a trail that leads out into the hills, and will follow a dirt road out into the chestnut orchards that surround the village.
The dirt road eventually peters out, but will lead us to 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!
On the way up there are plenty of spots to take a rest and enjoy the views, and there’s also a quick detour that will give us a look at an old quarry site. The mountains out here were the source of many of the rocks used to build the older houses in the village, and at the old quarry site we can see how those rocks were chipped out of the cliffs.
Towards the top of the valley 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. If you’ve got energy to spare, ring the bell a few times and make a wish!
The temple site at the bottom of the mountain dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), with the pagodas built in the 1400’s. 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.