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Zhenbiancheng Great Wall and Big Camp Plate Challenge

In Brief: One of our most challenging treks, covering a long section of wild wall in Beijing's northwest. Suited to experienced and fit hikers

The wild Great Wall in Huailai District

The Great Wall crossing hills and mountains in Huailai District.

Key information

  • 6–7 hours start to finish over 17km.

This hike is definitely not suitable for those who are not physically fit, are afraid of heights, or lack proper clothing and footwear, and we’re going to ask you some questions about your hiking experience as part of the reservation for this hike.

This is one of our favourite long hikes – a long trek that is as challenging as it is rewarding! On this route, we’ll get to enjoy a tough walk, incredible scenery, and a wild stretch of the Great Wall of China that is seldom visited.

We’ll start the day with a drive into Hebei Province that takes along a winding mountain road with some very impressive vistas of the surrounding valleys and peaks. The hike begins with a westward stroll up a broad valley along a dirt road crossing farmer’s terraces. To the south, we’ll have great views of imposing saw-toothed crags soaring towards the clouds. This stretch leading to the Great Wall is not too steep, but it is a nonstop uphill walk. Bushes and small branches impinge onto the trail at some points, but for the most part it is clear walking. It begins to get a little steep as we reach the crest of the ridge upon which the Wall sits, but we won’t have to scramble over anything too difficult.

There are hardly any level stretches along the section of the Great Wall that we’ll be hiking. Although the difference between the highest and starting elevations is around about 700 meters, we’ll actually end up climbing much more than that as the Wall rises and descends along the rolling ridgeline. Some of the uphill bits are very steep and will require us to use our hands to pull ourselves up. Also, there are a few downhill parts that we’ll have to take at a very deliberate pace, as they are slippery and also steep. Some parts of the Great Wall we’ll bypass altogether as they are now too dilapidated to safely and sustainably traverse.

We will hike along the Great Wall from Zhenbiancheng until we reach Big Camp Plate, which may already be familiar to some hikers. Once we leave the Great Wall, we’ll still have a little over an hour left of hiking. We’ll cross over fields along a trail that terminates at a concrete road. We will follow it down to the highway and meet our bus there.

What to bring on this hike

  • Lunch and plenty of snacks to keep your energy up
  • Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat in case the weather turns bad
  • Sun protection: long-sleeved shirt, hat
  • A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
  • A waterproof jacket in case the weather changes
  • Strong and comfortable hiking boots
  • (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • There are some steep climbs on loose footing while on the wall.
  • We need to keep moving at a fairly steady pace to complete the hike on time.

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

Level5+

Level of difficulty

Level 5+ hikes are the most difficult hikes we do: long, with tough ascents and descents.They are physically challenging, and suitable for experienced hikers in good shape.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: 17km
  • Time to complete: 6–7 hours
  • Total ascent: 1,096m
  • Total descent: 909m
  • Start height: 796m
  • Peak: 1,350m
  • Finish height: 987m
  • Location: Huailai
  • 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


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