UPDATE: We're doing the Level 3+ version of this hike, not the easier version. That means more time on the Great Wall.
This day out in the country combines the physical challenge of a short-but-tough climb on the Great Wall with the luxury of a suburban hot springs resort.
Note: The length of the hike is like a Level 2, but some of the climbing is more like what's found on a Level 4. Just for a little while, though! If the trail is snowy or icy, we might need to modify the hike a little. We’ll let you know if there’s any change to the plan.
We start off near a walled village that was once an army barracks during the Ming Dynasty. The tall and thick stone walls remain, and it's possible to explore inside.
Surrounding the village are fields and chestnut orchards, the main source of income for those who live nearby, and in the hills above the village runs a stretch of the Yellow Flower Great Wall.
We’ll follow the villagers’ field trails up into the hills, passing the chestnut orchards on the way to the narrow hill trail that will take us up to the Great Wall.
It’s here where the trail gets steep for the first time on the hike, with a good climb up the zig-zagging dirt path that leads to the wall.
This first stretch of wall that we’ll see is unrestored and hasn’t been touched since the Ming Dynasty. Parts of it are in good shape, and other parts are tumbled-down and in rough condition.
We’ll follow the wall east, passing through towers and using side trails to skip broken down sections. After 45-50 minutes, we’ll be on to the restored section – a good chance to see what the wall might have looked like when first built.
A climb down a steep set of stairs takes us to a big arch in the wall, and we'll take a break to catch our breath before another steep climb. From this point, we'll be on repaired Great Wall.
After a rest, it’s onward and upward, with another 45 or minutes of climbing to get to the highest point on the hike, a lookout point that offers 360° views of the surrounding countryside and more of the wall.
Below, we’ll see a local reservoir. The wall leads down to the reservoir, and back up the hills on the other side. We’ll follow the wall down to the last tower before the reservoir, and then exit to take a path down the hill, passing small guesthouses on the way to the road and the restaurant where we’ll have a big meal to celebrate a fun hike.
After the hike, and lunch, we’ll head for the hot springs, located about halfway back to the city. After about 45 minute’s driving through the hills we’ll be there!
Hot Springs Resort in Shunyi
We used to visit a tiny little private hot springs hotel in the Changping countryside, but they’ve ‘shut down for renovations’, as the saying goes. We think hot springs are great after a winter hike, so we found another larger resort, closer to the city, and part of a five-star hotel – really nice!
We’ll spend two hours at the hot springs resort, looking to head back to the city at or before 5pm.
At the resort there are more than 30 pools both inside and outside, and we’ll buy you a ticket that gets you access to the whole lot.
As well as the hot pools, there’s a swimming pool with lanes, steam rooms, sauna rooms, showers, and they say there’s even a pool filled with heated red wine.
The resort supplies towels, slippers, and lockers. You’ll need to bring your own swimsuit.
Food and drinks can be purchased inside the resort, but isn’t covered by the entry fee. Bring some small change in case you get hungry or thirsty.
What to bring on this hike
- Snacks to eat
- Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat
- Good hiking boots
- Swimming outfit (slippers and towels provided).
- A further change of clothes is optional.
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- While we're on the wall, the climbing is steep—both up and down.
- It's quite a short hike, and if you've done the Zhuangdaokou to the Walled Village hike you've done most of this one already.