Home > Hike in Beijing

Book your place

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.

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

  • 390 RMB (350 RMB for members)
  • 7:00am departure from Lido Hotel Starbucks; Liangmaqiao subway area pickup at 6:30am. Back in Beijing around 5:00pm. (Find the meeting points)
  • 4–5 hours start to finish over about 9km.
  • Snacks and drinks provided after the hike.

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.

Ready to sign up? Book your place
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, July 22
Standby

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, July 25
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, July 26
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, July 28
Book it

Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, July 28
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, July 29
Book it

White River hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, July 29
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

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

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

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

Vulture Rock Ridge loop hike

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

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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

Yunmeng Gorge Swim or Explore

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

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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

White River hike

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

Great Wall Spur

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

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

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

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

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

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

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

Dragon Cloud Mountain and White River

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

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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

Great Wall Spur

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

Big Camp Plate Village and Hengling Valley

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

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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

White River hike

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

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 1
Book it

Gubeikou West Circuit (Route 2)

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 1
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 1–2 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 2
Book it

Big Black Mountain to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 2
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 5
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 6
Book it

Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 8
Book it

Yanqing Great Wall and High Tower Challenge

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 8
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 9
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 9
Book it

Walk Down The Incense Trail to Dajue Temple

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 12
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 13
Book it

Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 15
Book it

Yellow Grass Plateau and Seven Towers

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 15
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 15–16 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 16
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 16
Book it

Shunyi Hikers: Yajishan Temple Circuit

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 19
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 20
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 22
Book it

Over the Hills to Dajuesi

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 22
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 22
Book it

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 23
Book it

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 23
Book it

Chinese Knot Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 23–24 (Sun–Mon)
Book it

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, September 24
Book it

Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, September 24
Book it

Triangle Hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Wednesday, September 26
Book it

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Thursday, September 27
Book it

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 29
Book it

Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Saturday, September 29
Book it

Shuitou Village Loop hike

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: September 29–30 (Sat–Sun)
Book it

Camping: Switchback Great Wall

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Sunday, September 30
Book it

Great Wall Spur

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, October 1
Book it

Over the Hills to Yaji Mountain

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Monday, October 1
Book it

Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

Read more about this hike »
Departure date: Tuesday, October 2
Book it

The Pinnacle Tower

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

Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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

Zhuangdaokou to the Walled Village

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

Great Wall Spur

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

Zhenbiancheng Great Wall Loop Hike

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

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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

The High Tower Loop hike

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

Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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

Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

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

Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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

The green rolling hills of the Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
Trip dates: August 10–12, 2018

Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province

In Brief: Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Book trip
More info »
The coloured hills of the Zhangye Danxia Landform
Trip dates: August 15–19, 2018

Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province

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 »
Trekking on the Tea and Horse Trail near Dali, Yunnan Province
Trip dates: September 20–24, 2018

Dali’s Old Towns, Cang Mountain, and Erhai Lake, Yunnan (5 days)

In Brief: See the Southern Silk Road sights of Dali and its surrounds, travelling by foot, bicycle, and as part of a mule train as we visit ancient towns and temples on the ancient Tea and Horse Trail and camp out on Cang Mountain.

Book trip
More info »