Change to the starting point of the hike: Last weekend we hiked in the same area, and found our regular starting point blocked by a large fence! We’re now going to start from where we usually finish, and walk down a concrete road through villages to get to down to the Great Wall.
The Longquanyu stretch of Great Wall is about 20km north of the Ming Tombs, and was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). This section of the wall belongs to Yanqing County, and is situated close to the borders of Changping and Huairou, part of the connection between the more famous Huanghuacheng and Badaling sections of Great Wall.
We begin with a warmup walk, following a concrete road that leads down into in the valley. On our way down, we’ll pass by some sealed mine shafts and walk through two small villages. The mine shafts prove useful on a hot day, with cool air issuing from cracks in the concrete seals over the entrances to the mines.
At the second 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.
At the back of the village is a narrow path that runs up through orchards to join the first section of Great Wall that we’ll follow.
In this first section of Great Wall, it’s just the climb to the second tower that 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. In places, it is 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 second section of Great Wall continues much as the first, and a natural barrier will again force us off. This time, though, it’s a valley that makes it difficult to continue, with the ruined wall making a steep descent into the valley. Instead of trying a dangerous descent over loose rocks and bricks dislodged by trees and weathering, we’ll follow a thin dirt trail down the hill, into the valley, and then past the remnants of the wall as we head for the river canyon.
A stream runs down the canyon, flowing toward the Little West Lake. By looking at the way that the rocks, boulders, and cliffs have been shaped by the flow of the water, we can tell that the stream used to flow quite powerfully – large rocks have been smoothed, boulders rolled, and large indentations and pools have been carved out of the cliffs.
We’ll be heading upstream, and will cross streams and pools on the up – a good way to stay cool on a hot day!
It’s at one of the larger pools that we come to the only tricky section of this hike – a little bit of a balancing act to skirt a large pool, a short clamber over a smooth rock face, and then a short hop over rocks to cross the stream.
Further up, a bridge spans the canyon. We’re going to follow the bridge road back up to the first village we passed, where we’ll find the restaurant where we’ll have a big meal before heading back to Beijing.
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
- Near the middle of the hike we have to climb over some boulders and get across a little stream. If you’re not good at balancing, you might not like this part of the hike very much.
- The concrete road is about 2km in length, and we’ll occasionally meet cars. It’s not the perfect way to begin the hike, but our usual access point has been blocked by a big fence!
- This hike is a combination of our Longquanyu Great Wall hike and our Two Valleys hike – if you’ve done either of those, you’ll have done most of this hike already.