A Long Way to Pray for Rain

Follow one of our old trails through the Miyun mountains, ending up near a scenic spot named White Dragon Pool.

Level 3+
3–4 hours start to finish over approx. 11km. (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

Contact us for schedule updates or set up a private hike

Hikers heading down to a tiny village
Hikers heading towards a tiny village, on the way down from the first big ridge crossing on the hike.

Old favourite! This is one of our older trails, following the same path a group of villagers used on a barefoot mission in the ‘80s in the hope of earning a heaven-sent drought-breaking rainfall.

With several of the old paths concreted, this walk will be much easier for us than it was for them. However, we must insist you don’t try it barefoot!

As part of the ongoing development of Beijing’s rural areas, many of the old paths were concreted to make it easier to get into the hills. On this hike, the first 4km follows one of these roads that covered up the old dirt path we used to follow.

However, a lot of the developments at the end of the concrete roads were not super successful, and it’s not likely we’ll meet anyone while we’re hiking.

One benefit of the concrete roads is that you’ll be able to check out the fine scenery without so much worry about where to put your feet.

Pray for Rain

There’s a great story behind this hiking trail, which goes way back to the early days of Beijing Hikers.

Out scouting for a way over the mountains, Huilin and Gary were drinking tea and talking about hiking trails with Mr. Zhu, one of the villagers.

“When was the last time you walked over to Bailongtan [the end of the hike], Mr Zhu?”, asked Huilin.

And old Mr. Zhu had a story to tell about that!

“Well, back in the ‘80s, we had a terrible drought one of the years. No rain at all. The crops were dying, and were so hot we though they were going to catch fire. Without those crops, we were going to starve in winter.”

At that time Mr. Zhu was the village chief, and it was up to him to think of something.

“I decided that we’d all walk over the hills to the temple on the other side to pray for rain, and we thought that the only way the gods would take pity on us would be if we walked in bare feet. We were desperate!”

They all walked the trail through the rocky hills, feet getting sliced open by sharp rocks and spiked by thorns, all with the sun beating down.

Reaching the temple they said their prayers, lit incense, and sacrificed a lamb.

“And then?”

“We didn’t know what else we could do, and we started walking home. We were almost all the way back when the rain started to fall.”

The Hike

The trail takes us up and over two tall ridges, and for most of the time we’ll be heading uphill. This means that you’ll get a good workout.

The first half of the hike is all uphill, following a concrete road up a long valley with steep, forested hills on either side. Near the end of the valley is a large building that may be a hotel, or was at least supposed to be, once upon a time.

The concrete road ends just past the hotel, and we’ll get on to a hill trail that takes us over the ridge, our first steep climb of the day.

We follow a sandy trail down from the ridge, passing sandstone outcrops on the way down to a village on the other side. The village is a small one, and after walking through it we’ll be off into the hills again, making another steep climb up to the second big ridge.

The trail down from the second ridges passes through a thickly forested valley. It’s sometimes quite tricky getting through here!

After getting through the forest we’re almost done with the hike, walking out past another hotel-type development and down around the corner to meet our bus.

Along the way we’ll see a range of scenery: sandy hilltops, isolated old pines, rocky outcrops and cliffs, streams, and bushy hills.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • About 5km of the hike is on narrow concrete paths instead of hill trails.
  • The descent from the last ridge line could be rather bushy.

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The current precautions are minimal. Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

Related content

Photos and trip reports: A Long Way to Pray for Rain

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