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This is a shorter version of one of our favourite hill-walking hikes in Changping District, a walk between two villages that passes through chestnut orchards, over a ridge, and down and out a valley that contains disused terraces covered by thick forest. We see a lot of the good scenery from the longer hike, but by finishing where our Tomb Raiders hike begins we skip the tough climbing that’s required to finish the second half of the full trail.
On the way to this hike we’ll drive by quite a few of the Ming Tombs that are closed to the public. On the way back from the hike we’ll stop at Chang Tomb and go inside for a look around. Chang Tomb was the first of the tombs built in Beijing after the Yongle Emperor moved his capital to Beijing from Nanjing.
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.
The first part of the hike is on mostly flat ground, first on the road that leads through Longevity Village, and then on a dirt trail that heads up into the hills, passing through all the terraced chestnut fields that are a major source of income for the villagers.
We’re aiming to cross over the hills at a notch in a ridge on the southern side of the village.
As we get closer to the point where we cross over the ridge, the trail starts to zig-zag as it climbs up the hillside, eventually rising to the saddle between two peaks—a good place for a rest and a quick lunch break!
From the saddle, we follow a largely disused trail down into the valley on the other side. This is perhaps the most scenic section of the hike, with steep hills on either side of the trail covered with plentiful greenery.
In some places the greenery is plentiful indeed, and overhanging branches and leaves make the trail narrow in places and somewhat scratchy. We recommend trousers and long sleeves for this hike.
Near the bottom of the valley, we pass through a nice narrow ravine before arriving at the village on the other side of the hill. Just before the village we walk along a narrow lane between brick buildings that are some sort of small factory. Depending on the mood of the workers, and the state of the gate, we might need to skirt around the buildings instead of strolling through.
This village is called Dongshuiyu – East Water Valley – and it’s where we’ll be finishing our hike today. Our bus will meet us near the town square (and exercise yard), and we’ll break out our picnic tables for drinks and snacks before heading on to Chang Tomb.
Chang Tomb is the second of the Ming Tombs, the first to be built in Beijing, and it is the burial site of the third Ming Emperor. Perhaps a little confusing!
The highlights of Chang Tomb are the huge gates and halls, in size second only to the Forbidden City in regard to Ming Dynasty architecture.
The third emperor of the Ming Dynasty was Zhu Di, who reigned from 1402 to 1424 under the title of ‘Perpetual Happiness’. In his opinion, he should have been the second emperor, being the eldest surviving son of the first as his own older brother had already passed away.
The first emperor of the Ming hadn’t thought the same way, and had already chosen his own grandson (the first son of his oldest son) to succeed him as emperor.
This difference in opinion caused a civil war upon the death of the first emperor. Zhu Di, who had been based around Beijing, conquered Nanjing, moved the capital up to Beijing, and pronounced himself the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
Later dynasties acknowledged the first emperor’s choice of successor, and since then Zhu Di has been known as the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
The first of the Ming Tombs is found in Nanjing, which was the capital at the time of the first Emperor. Because he lost the civil war, the officially recognised second emperor had no time to build a tomb, and his body was never found.
What to bring on this hike
- Lunch and snacks to eat
- Sun protection: long-sleeved shirt, hat
- A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- Parts of the hike go through areas that are not commonly walked, and the trail can get bushy and scratchy, especially in summer.