Great Wall: Gubeikou West Side
Explore the Great Wall on the west side of Gubeikou. Note: if you're not good with heights, you won't enjoy this hike.
If you’re not good with heights, you won’t enjoy this hike.
Because it’s the Tombsweeping Festival holiday we may see a little bad traffic on the way there or on the way back.
On the west side of Gubeikou, over the river from our Gubeikou Loop hike, is another stretch of wall that is not often visited.
At least half of the hike is quite high and exposed with no cover at all. So if it is windy or sunny take plenty of protection. Our frequent friend-nemesis, “the thorn bush”, puts in an appearance too. Good, non-tearing protective clothing is recommended, and of course good hiking boots.
What will we see?
In this area, Ming Dynasty-era (1368–1644 AD) Great Wall has been built on and around an older section of wall. Some of this older section of wall can still be seen, but is not in good condition. Other parts of the older wall are now encased in the relatively recent Ming Dynasty Great Wall.
The Ming Wall is, in most places, wide and easy to walk on. In some places, though, there are a few very narrow sections to cross, and lots of big drops with no side walls. This means that this hike is not suitable for younger children, or people who are not good with heights.
The hiking trail
We start the hike with a short walk along a road before taking a sharp turn to follow a dirt trail up to the wall.
This trail is steep and it’s a continuous climb and it will take us about 25 minutes to reach the Great Wall.
From there, there are great views on a clear day – we can see a long line of Great Wall stretching off toward the east, on the other side of the river, as well as many rugged peaks and valleys in the area. Our guides can point out three different sections of the wall there: Gubeikou, Jinshanling, and even Simatai far off in the distance.
We’ll take a little break at this point, and then we’ll follow the Great Wall further uphill.
There are beautiful high peaks just to the west of the part of the Great Wall that we’ll be hiking on and we can even spot a few seldom seen Great Wall towers through gaps in the hills, a sign that the wall continues for quite a way.
Another sight to see is a high section of the Wall that ends on the steep cliffs of a nearby crag—a bit steep for us to climb up to, but very nice for photography.
We’ll follow the wall up to one of the highest towers in the area and stop there for a longer break before continuing along a high ridgeline, following the wild Great Wall towards the end of the hiking trail.
Just before we descend from the Wall, we cross a particularly narrow section, which has a drop off on each side and nothing to hold on to. This is the part of the hike that won’t be much fun if you’re not good with heights! But it’s just a short section, and we’ll get you across it … even if you have to cross on your hands and knees!
The trail down from the wall is also a little slippery, but we’ll take our time heading down and will soon be on more solid footing.
The last part of the hike is along a flat trail through a valley, and soon we’ll be back at the bus. From the end of the hike it’s a short drive to our local guide’s house, where we’ll have a big meal of country-style Chinese cooking before heading back to the city.
What to bring on this hike
- Snacks to eat along the way.
- Warm clothes in case it gets chilly
- Wind-breaker jacket if it is forecast to be breezy.
- 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
- There is quite a lot of exposure to heights on this hike.