This hike is a combination of parts of two of our shorter trails, and by joining them up we’ve made a trail with a combination of scenery: valleys, forests, streams, reservoirs, and, of course, some Great Wall.
We begin with a warmup walk, following a concrete road that leads down into a valleys below. On our way down, we’ll pass by some small villages and will walk by some sealed mine shafts. 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.
A short climb takes us up and over a ridge, and down into a forested and leafy valley. On the way down we’ll pass a tiny duck and goose farm and a few curious looking buildings, following a trail down the course of a little stream.
At the bottom of the valley is the entrance to a park. This part of the trail used to be free to walk, but the park people built a funny gate and a drawbridge. We’ll cross over, buy some tickets, and head down into the park area.
The park is a popular spot, and as we walk through we’ll see why: a big reservoir full of clean water lies below a line of Great Wall, with one part of the wall dipping down into the water. The reservoir was created by the construction of a dam, which we’ll cross on the way to the next section of the hike.
Out the back of one of the parking areas of the park is a dirt trail that leads up a section of unrestored Great Wall. It’s a steep climb, but the views are worth it—the Great Wall is built along the edge of a cliff, and far below is the water of the reservoir.
The wall beside the cliff is not in such good shape, so after we have a little rest we’ll stick to the hill trail and follow it over a ridge and around a corner to get on a part of the wall where it’s safer for walking.
On a clear day the views along this stretch will be excellent, with mountains all around, and a line of wall seen stretching off into the far distance.
We’ll be following the wall down to the Zhuangdaokou Pass, detouring around some tricky sections and then down a very steep set of stairs.
From the top of the stairs we’ll be on restored Great Wall, heading down to a big gate and then up to the towers on the other side of the valley.
On the way up to the top we’ll pass through two old towers, both in reasonable condition, and both offering great views of the hills and valleys in the area. Just after the second tower we’ll be able to look down on the Huanghuacheng Reservoir.
From the highest point on this side, we’ll have dizzying views of the countryside around us and we’ll be able to appreciate how the Great Wall spans the rugged landscape of jagged ridges and precipitous slopes.
Our descent from the top is so steep that it may actually take us longer to go down than it did to come up the other side, and it will be a good, tough workout for our leg muscles. We’ll end up by the resorts by the Huanghuacheng reservoir, where we’ll have a big meal at one of our favourite countryside restaurants.
What to bring on this hike
- Plenty of snacks to eat along the way.
- Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat
- Good hiking boots or sturdy shoes for walking.
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- This hike combines sections of two shorter hikes we do quite often, the Longquanyu Loop and Great Wall hike, and all of the Little West Lake to Huanghuacheng trail. If you’ve already done those trails, you might not want to repeat them on this hike.