Holiday hike! On this hike we’ll walk the stretch of Great Wall that lies between two reservoirs in Huairou District, starting from the ‘Little West Lake’ and finishing at the Huanghuacheng Reservoir, crossing unrestored and restored sections of Ming Dynasty Great Wall along the way.
Holiday traffic We’re leaving at 8:00am with the aim of avoiding holiday traffic, but we may still get in a jam on the way back to the city.
This is a short hike, but parts of it are quite steep – you’ll get good views, and also good exercise. We’ve rated it a Level 3+ because of the steepness, particularly right at the beginning. We’ll take our time, though!
We’ll start off at the Little West Lake, where a dam has created a large lake in a canyon, submerging a section of Great Wall.
We begin at a large carpark built for the park by the reservoir, and will follow a hill trail up to the Great Wall high on a ridge above the lake.
After a short climb we’ll be beside the wall, and will take a break here to see how the Great Wall runs along a cliff over the reservoir.
The wall beside the cliff is not in such good shape, so after we have a look at the reservoir far below we’ll stick to the hill trail and follow it over a ridge and around a corner to get on the Great Wall where it’s safer for walking.
Further along the wall we’ll reach the highest point on today’s hike, a tower on a corner in the wall.
On a clear day the views along this stretch will be excellent, with mountains all around, and a line of wall seen stretching off into the far distance.
We’ll be following the wall down to the Zhuangdaokou Pass, detouring around some tricky sections and then down a very steep set of stairs.
From the top of the stairs we’ll be on restored Great Wall, heading down to a big gate and then up to the towers on the other side of the valley.
On the way up to the top we’ll pass through two old towers, both in reasonable condition, and both offering great views of the hills and valleys in the area. Just after the second tower we’ll be able to look down on the Huanghuacheng Reservoir, a pretty sight when iced over in winter.
From the highest point on this side, we’ll have dizzying views of the countryside around us and we’ll be able to appreciate how the Great Wall spans the rugged landscape of jagged ridges and precipitous slopes.
Our descent from the top is so steep that it may actually take us longer to go down than it did to come up the other side, and it will be a good, tough workout for our leg muscles. We’ll end up by the resorts by the Huanghuacheng reservoir, where we’ll have our lunch.
What to bring on this hike
- 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
- While we’re on the wall, the climbing is steep—both up and down. We’ve rated it a 3+ because of these steep climbs.
- 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.