On this hike we’ll visit small villages, walk through valleys, and follow a nice stretch of Great Wall in the area north of the Ming Tombs. The last part of the hiking trail is in a valley that ices over during winter, covering the valley floor and making this hike a good bit of slippery fun!
We begin by following a dirt trail down from the main road, walking through chestnut orchards to reach a small village.
From the village, we’ll take a semi-secret trail that leads from the orchards at the back of the village up to the Great Wall. A short climb will take us up to a tower on the wall, and another short, but steeper climb will get us up to one of the higher towers in the area. From the higher tower we’ll get a good view of the surrounding area, with mountains, valleys, and stretches of Great Wall all around.
The Great Wall is found in the middle section of this hike—about a quarter of the total distance.
In this first section of Great Wall, the climb to the second tower is a little steep. After that, though, the ups and downs are a little more gradual. The wall follows the ridgeline, allowing views of mountains on one side, and the Longquanyu Water Canyon on the other. Parts of it have been recently restored, other parts are overgrown and bushy, sometimes tumbled down.
The Great Wall is often built up and down incredibly steep hillsides; a highlight of this section is a special spot where the wall meets a cliff that forms a natural barrier, the steps of the wall leading up to a sheer cliff. It makes a good spot for a short break, but there's not much room for sitting. Quite obviously we cannot continue any further, so we'll backtrack a little and take a hillside detour, walking through chestnut orchards to get back on to our second section of wall for the day.
The next section of wall has also been renovated, and the walking is not too tough. Nearby is the Little West Lake, and a section of wall that has been renamed as the Water Great Wall by the local government.
The wall dips down steeply into another valley, forested and leafy with a trickle of water running through it. On some of our hikes, we head down the valley, crossing the drawbridge that leads to the Little West Lake. Today we’ll head up the valley, following the stream past a tiny duck and goose farm, and a few curious looking buildings.
At this time of year it's not likely we'll see the small stream – it will have frozen over, and the small amount of water that runs down the valley will have frozen into an amazing amount of ice.
At the top of the valley is a trail that leads up to a pass on the ridge. The thirty-minute climb up to the ridge takes us through terraces and orchards. From the pass on the ridge, we head down a gravelly path, and end up a concrete road that joins the village below with the main road above.
What to bring on this hike
- Lunch and snacks to eat
- Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- The concrete road back up to the top is about 2km in length, and we'll occasionally meet cars. It's not the perfect way to finish the hike, but it's the only way out of the valley that we've found so far.
- If the valley is iced up, it will be slippery.