High Tower Great Wall | The High Tower, at an elevation of 1,440m above sea level
The High Tower, at an elevation of 1,440m above sea level.

The High Tower

4–5 hours of tough hiking takes you up to and down from one of the highest Great Wall towers in Beijing.

Level 4+
4–5 hours start to finish over 12km (Can I do it?)

This hike is scheduled as a join-in group tour on the following date

Follow the link to see current hike information and booking details.

We’ve done a lot of hiking in this area, and it’s one of our favourite spots for tough treks because the hills are nice and big, there are great views of the hills and mountains, and the area is, for the most part, free of people.

We usually do this hike the other way around, starting where we’ll finish on this visit, but this way we’ll be able to get started a little earlier and we aim to get the tough climbing done before it gets too hot.

Our start point is at the end of the road, up a long valley. The path starts off fairly flat, and we have some shade from trees as we begin.

But the trail soon starts getting steeper, zig-zagging up through a deciduous forest before reaching a clear spot on a ridge. That climb is perhaps the toughest part of the hike – a long climb up gravel trails, quite steep in places.

The clear spot on the ridge is a good place to take a break—there’s a little shade and great views of the mountains and hills, with a line of Great Wall not far away.

It’s possible to follow the Great Wall up to the High Tower, but we’re going to take the long way up, a nice walk through more forest. The shade from the trees will be very welcome if the sun is out!

The trail takes us through trees, winding back and forth across the hillside as we get closer to the top. After another steep climb we’ll be above the tree line.

Just as we come out of the trees we’ll find a crumbly section of Great Wall, which we’ll follow up to the High Tower. At 1,440m above sea level, this tower is visible from other hikes we do in the same hills: it’s east of the Big Plate Camp hike, and to the west of the Switchback Great Wall hike. This means we’ll have excellent views of the Great Wall on either side.

After a break for lunch we’ll head down the other side of the big hill, passing through another forested area and crossing the Beijing-Hebei border before walking down the paved trail that leads to the ‘Long Valley Village’, a walled barracks that was an important outpost during the Ming Dynasty.

The paved trail takes us down through a lush, leafy valley and past a small reservoir. At the foot of the reservoir is a concrete road that will take us to the village carpark, and our bus.

This is a moderately difficult hike on a cool day, and hot weather will make it extra-tough. We recommend this hike only for hikers with strong legs and a good level of fitness. In particular, the hiking after the high tower crosses areas of loose bricks and stones: good balance, a good head for heights, and strong hiking boots are required.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • You’ll see a bit of Great Wall on this hike, but not that much. If it’s specifically Great Wall that you’re interested in then this hike is probably not the best choice.


Click to read a a very detailed writeup of the High Tower hike, by Peter Shadbolt of the Financial Times.

COVID-19 and participation precautions

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

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Photos and trip reports: The High Tower

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