Camping: Big Plate Camp Great Wall

Two days to explore a remote section of early Ming Dynasty Great Wall, camping on top of the wall near a high peak.

Level 3+
2–3 hours of hiking each day. (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

Contact us for schedule updates or set up a private hike

A stretch of unrestored Great Wall, with mountains in the background
A view of the Great Wall near our campsite.

On this two day Great Wall adventure you'll camp on a line of early Ming Dynasty Great Wall in a remote region of northwest Beijing.

We’ll organise delivery of tents and sleeping bags direct to our campsite; you’ll just need to carry your clothes, water, and food and snacks.

We’ll supply the camping equipment, water, snacks, and breakfast and a restaurant lunch on the second day. Discounted price available if you have your own camping gear.

Maximum group size of 12 hikers; book early to make sure you get a spot!

Bad weather plan

We'll have a fairly good idea of the weather by about three days before the hike. If it's forecast to be dangerous or no fun – i.e. thunder and lightning, or heavy rain – we'd need to call off the hike.

The campsite

We’ll set up our base camp on the solid foundation of a line of early Ming Dynasty Great Wall near the highest peak in the area.

With our backs to the peak, we’ll have broad views: mountains all around, and lines of old Great Wall heading north and south. You’ll be able to see the sun rise over distant mountains at about 5:15am.

Many of the towers in this area have tumbled down, but the foundation was built solidly with huge blocks of local stone, and a nearby stretch of wall was built as a model for further construction – basically, they said ‘Build it all like this’!

Fire restrictions mean that we won’t be able to have a campfire here.

At night

The sun will set around 7:20pm, and we’ll be able to watch as the sun slowly sinks below a tall ridge of mountains.
Moon phase: Just before the full moon.

Meals

Lunch, day one: We'll supply a big sandwich, prepared by the Delicatessen at the Lido Hotel, as well as a banana and a snickers bar. You might like to supplement this with extra snacks.

Dinner: We'll supply basic camp food: things like bread and rolls, ham and salami, pickles and cheese, and some cup noodles and soups. We’ll bring gas burners to boil water for hot drinks. We'll also bring a bottle of red wine! Dinner will be tasty but fairly basic, and we’re not able to have open fires.

Breakfast: We’ll bring bread and jam and fruit, tea and coffee.

Snacks: We’ll supply another Snickers bars, an apple, and nuts and things to make trail mix.

Lunch, day two: We’ll head to a local restaurant and celebrate with a big meal and plenty of cold beer.

Water: We’ll provide 4 litres of bottled water per person, plus an electrolyte drink.

Equipment

We supply: one tent for each person, sleeping bag and liner, ground pad, hiking poles. Do you have your own camping gear? Let us know, and we’ll adjust the price for you.

What you need to bring

Wear standard hiking gear and boots, and bring a waterproof jacket just in case.

Bring a hiking pack in which you can comfortably carry the following essentials:

  • Enough water for the first day and evening.
  • Warm clothes for the evening, spare socks and underwear.
  • Hat and gloves.
  • Flashlight or head lamp.
  • Toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
  • Toothbrush, small towel.
  • Suncream.
  • Personal medicine and basic first aid supplies.
  • Entertainment: a book, cards, a bottle of something.
  • Extra food and snacks ie chocolate.

If you don't have a pack, let us know – we can organise a rental for you.

The hike

This section of the Great Wall is named Big Camp Plate, after the local settlement that provided this Ming Dynasty section of the Wall with provisions, supplies, labor, and other accommodations for a garrison. Parts of this section were intended to serve as a template for others, making it an exemplary site to learn about the Great Wall’s construction as we explore from our camp site.

Hiking, day one: The hike begins with a 30–40 minute walk up a recently concreted road that leads to an isolated settlement called Big Plate Camp (alt. 1091m), a village of 10-15 people that is encircled by the Great Wall.

Just before we reach the village we turn off on to a hillside trail that leads to the Great Wall. This will take 40–60 minutes, and it will be a steady climb up broad hillsides. Just below a 1,280m peak we’ll spot the wall on the ridgeline opposite, and our trail eventually joins up with the wall.

From the point where we get on the wall, it’s a short walk to our campsite.

It's about 5km from the start point to the campsite, with an elevation change of 389m.

Hiking, day two: After we have breakfast and break camp, we’ll hike off to take a look at more of the Great Wall in the area. Depending on the situation, we might follow the wall down into a deep valley, crossing some steep and slippery sections, or we might head back to the village for a look at the wall over there.

Difficulty level: we rate the full Big Plate Camp hike at around Level 4 on our scale of difficulty. Combined into a two day trip, we’ll rate it a Level 3+ overall.

Maximum group size of 12 hikers; book early to make sure you get a spot!

Reasons you might not enjoy this trip

  • There are a few places along the way that are either narrow, steep, slippery, or all three.

Because of the COVID-19 situation we have some extra terms and conditions for participation.

In particular:

  • DO NOT participate if you are sick or showing symptoms of fever and/or have an elevated temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who was.
  • DO NOT participate if you have not completed any required quarantine after your return to Beijing.
  • You MUST agree to the mitigation and prevention measures outlined here and that Beijing Hikers will not be held responsible if any participants become sick.

Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

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