Home > Hike in Beijing

Not currently open for booking

This hike is not currently scheduled, and the information on this page may be incomplete or out of date.

Switchback Great Wall

In Brief: A tough Great Wall hike over tricky terrain in a remote area of northwest Beijing, with a lot of ups and downs on the way to the end. Note: this route features steep descents on loose footing—if you’re not good with heights and balancing, you will not enjoy this hike.

Switchback Great Wall | Hikers following the unrestored Great Wall in Yanqing District.

Views of Great Wall and mountains, near the high point of the Switchback Great Wall.

Key information

  • 4–5 hours start to finish over about 9km.

Weather note There’s not a lot of shade on this hike, and if it’s a hot day it will feel extra tough. We can’t do this hike in a thunderstorm either! In the days before the hike we’ll be keeping an eye on the weather forecast, and we’ll change the plan if necessary.

Travel right on past touristy Badaling on the way out to a difficult Great Wall hike in the mountains overlooking the Guanting Reservoir in Yanqing. The climbing is steep and tough and we’ll take 4–5 hours to complete the 8.5km walk. For much of the hike we’ll be quite high up, peaking at 1,200m near the midpoint where the wall curves in a sharp switchback. We have a shorter version of this hike – on this trip we’ll do the tougher, longer route, and we’re going to do it backwards!

Midway through this tough hike the wall doubles back on itself in a sharp switchback, and that’s why we named this area the Switchback Great Wall. The local name is a little different: the Hunchback Great Wall!

We’ll drive up into the hills and start the hike by climbing up on to a tall ridge to reach the Great Wall.

We then follow the wall up to the “General’s Tower”, one of the biggest towers in the area, and likely the location of the commander in the area back in the Ming Dynasty. From here we’ll be able to see why it made such a good command post – the views are amazing!

After the General’s Tower, the condition of the Great Wall here deteriorates, and as we continue we’ll have some tricky descents on slippery, broken down sections of the wall – not much fun if you’re not good with balance or don’t enjoy heights so much.

The Great Wall leads up to towers that are even higher up than the General’s Tower, and just after the highest point we’ll reach the switchback section, repaired in 2015 in a restoration project.

Also nearby is a rundown radio tower, accompanied by a tiny hut – a short detour if you’re interested to take a look, and the trail is not too overgrown!

After we pass the switchback section there are a few more steep ups and downs before a long descent along the wall – again, there are some tricky sections here, and we’ll need to be particularly careful right at the end as the path gets quite slippery.

The Great Wall dips down into a valley, and that’s the end of the hike. A short walk on flat ground takes us to a narrow road, where we’ll find our bus.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • There are a few tricky descents on loose footing that will not be much fun if you are scared of heights.
  • It’s quite a short hike for a Level 4, but there is a lot of climbing up and down.

There are risks involved in hiking. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Level4

Level of difficulty

Level 4 hikes will usually take 4 hours to complete, and will be difficult for people who are not used to hiking or are out of shape.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: 8–9km
  • Time to complete: 4–5 hours
  • Total ascent: 705m
  • Total descent: 609m
  • Start height: 683m
  • Peak: 1,147m
  • Finish height: 779m
  • Location: Yanqing
  • Drive time: 2–2.5 hours each way

Hikes in Beijing

We publish our hike schedule month by month, with updates around the 10th of each month.

If you're interested in hikes and trips during a month that's not yet listed, use our contact form to let us know and we'll send you a quick email when the schedule is online.

Hike in Beijing calendar

See the Hike in Beijing schedule in our calendar


Find a hike

Great Wall hikesGreat Wall campingHillwalking hikesTough hikesEasy hikesShunyi hikesSee all the hikes »Calendar


All upcoming hikes in Beijing

Departure date: Sunday, March 24
Standby

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, March 24
Standby

Kids Club: Zhuangdaokou to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, March 27
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, March 28
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, March 30
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, March 30
Book it

Great Flood hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: March 30–31 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, March 31
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, March 31
Book it

Silver Pagoda Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, April 3
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, April 4
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Friday, April 5
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Friday, April 5
Book it

War Tunnels and the old Gold Mines

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 6
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: April 6–7 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 6
Book it

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 7
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 7
Book it

Rolling Hills and Empty Lanes

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, April 10
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, April 11
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 13
Book it

Over the Hills to Dajue Temple

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 13
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 14
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 14
Book it

Kids Club: Gubeikou Wall and adventure playground

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, April 17
Book it

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, April 18
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 20
Book it

Zhenbiancheng Great Wall and Big Camp Plate Challenge

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 20
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 20
Book it

Waste-Free Wall: Clean up the Jiankou ‘Big West’ Great Wall for Earth Day

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: April 20–21 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 21
Book it

Ming Village day trip

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 21
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, April 24
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, April 25
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, April 27
Book it

Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: April 27–28 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 28
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, April 28
Book it

Shuiquan Canyon

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, May 1
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, May 2
Book it

Vulture Rock Ridge and the old Pilgrim’s Trail

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, May 2
Book it

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Friday, May 3
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 5
Book it

Yellow Grass Plateau and Seven Towers

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 4
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: May 4–5 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 5
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 5
Book it

Silver Pagoda Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, May 8
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, May 9
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 11
Book it

Miaofengshan Super Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 11
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 12
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 12
Book it

Yajishan Temple Fair, Pinggu District

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, May 15
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, May 16
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 18
Book it

Yanqing Great Wall and High Tower Challenge

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 18
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: May 18–19 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 19
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 19
Book it

Ming Village day trip

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, May 22
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, May 23
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 25
Book it

Heituo Mountain Crossing

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, May 25
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 26
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, May 26
Book it

Kids Club: Yunmeng Gorge play and picnic

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, May 29
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, May 30
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »

Explore China

See more of China on a multi-day trip—travel to famous scenic areas, or choose to visit somewhere obscure and less well-known.

Upcoming trips

A traditional welcome to a Miao village
Trip dates: April 3–7, 2019

Guizhou: Miao and Dong culture in the mountains (5 days)

In Brief: Hike between villages and enclaves in the mountains of Guizhou Province to get a up-close look at the well-preserved rituals, traditions, and architecture of the Miao and Dong (and more) ethnic groups.

Book trip
More info »
Hiking through the huge dunes of the Tengger Desert in Inner Mongolia
Trip dates: April 28–May 1, 2019

Tengger Desert Lakes, Inner Mongolia (4 days)

In Brief: Travel by foot and jeep through the desert, visit desert lakes, ride camels, camp in the desert, and more.

Book trip
More info »
The coloured hills of the Zhangye Danxia Landform
Trip dates: June 5–9, 2019

Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province (5 days)

In Brief: See the fantastically-coloured mountains and cliffs in an all-but unexplored area of Gansu; visit Horse Hoofprint Temple, Jiayuguan Fortress, and more.

Book trip
More info »