We’ve hiked this route before as a two-day backpacking trip, and we also like to do the two hikes separately. For today’s hike we’ll travel light and do the whole lot at once, joining together our Yanqing Great Wall route and our High Tower route.
For parts of the hike we'll be on rough and rundown sections of Great Wall, but for most of the day we'll be on hill trails that meet up with the Great Wall every now and again.
We haven’t done the ’challenge’ version of this hike since 2019, because it was too difficult to get the bus past a village checkpoint for the pickup. All good now, fingers crossed!
If you’ve already done the High Tower and Huanglouyuan hike with us, the High Tower part is sort of the same, except you will have done about 4 hours of hiking before you start on the big climb up to the tower.
This first part of the hike will have us following the Great Wall from west to east as it rolls over hills and ridges. There will not be much flat walking. Many sections are quite dilapidated, so we will detour around these on paths that cross terraces and fields that are worked by local farmers. Looking north, we should have a good view of the Guanting reservoir.
The wall in this part of the mountains is built on high ridges, and because we’ll be on some of the highest of these we’ll get great views of long stretches of Great Wall as we’re walking. Other interesting sights include several round watch towers, a tower made from mud bricks, a ‘water pass’ with extremely steep sections of wall on either side, as well as mysterious valley paths, apricot orchards, a range of vegetation, and a radar station.
Eventually, we’ll get close the radar tower and come to a road that marks the boundary of Hebei Province and Beijing Municipality. The boundary marker is also the trailhead for a route down to a small village hidden in the hills. Today, however, we’ll be continuing on up towards one of the highest Great Wall towers in Beijing Municipality.
The trail goes along the side of a fairly steep slope before coming out onto a plateau where the High Tower sits. We’ll stop at the top for a break and enjoy the views before heading on again.
On the way down, we cross a broken and slippery section of wall, and then follow it down for a little while before turning on to a zig-zag hill trail that leads down to the village roads and the car park where we’ll meet our bus.
We'll bring along our beer box and tables for a little post-hike picnic before we head back to the city, hopefully arriving in Beijing before it's too late for dinner!