UPDATE 2014/8/28—changed departure times: 8:00am (7:30am from the subway)
NOTE: Some parts of this trail are very steep, and this hike could almost sneak in as a Level 3+.
Adjacent to the stretch of Great Wall we follow on our popular Switchback Great Wall hikes is another line of wall that is wild, rough, and seldomly visited.
This will be the second time we’ve taken a group along this part of the Great Wall, and we think that this is going to be a good adventurous wall walk that’s not excessively tough going.
The Great Wall in this area dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and looks like it hasn’t been repaired or touched since then.
Some sections are a bit too steep and slippery for good hiking, and we’ll make detours around those. And because it’s an area that is known to get windy and cold, we’re keeping it a short hike so that we can get down to the end and warm up with some hot soup a little earlier.
We start the hike with a hill climb to reach the Great Wall, the first of three big climbs along the trail. The path up the hill zig-zags up a brushy hillside and is a fairly tough way to get started – we’ll be climbing up about 230m over a distance of just 1.3km.
We’ll take it slow going up, and explore a tower while we catch our breath. The tower looks out over a valley, on the other side of which we can see another, steeper stretch of Great Wall. If we followed the wall up over that way we’d end up at the Badaling Great Wall, perhaps Beijing’s most famous section. (And very popular with huge numbers of tourists!)
We’re heading the other way, and will follow the unrestored and tumbled-down wall along a ridgeline, going up and down little hills and passing old ruined towers. In some places the wall is gravelly and quite slippery, and we’ll follow it all the way down into a valley.
The Great Wall on the other side of the valley is not in good condition for climbing, so our second big climb of the day is up a hill trail that gets us back on to the wall. It’s not as tough as the first big climb!
We continue along the Great Wall on our way to the last big climb, detouring around a few tricky sections and ending up on a fairly flat section that gives us a birds-eye view of the village below.
After we’ve had a good look at this last section of wall, we’ll follow a dirt trail down the hillside, walking past a small temple on the way to the countryside guesthouse where we’ll have a big lunch before heading back to the city.
What to bring on this hike
- Snacks to eat while hiking
- 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 wall here are steep and slippery, and if you’re not good with heights and balance you might not have a fun time.
- The hike has some steep sections which will make it feel quite tough, but overall it’s quite a short hike.