The Longquanyu stretch of Great Wall is about 20km north of the Ming Tombs, and was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). This section of the wall belongs to Yanqing County, and is situated close to the borders of Changping and Huairou, part of the connection between the more famous Huanghuacheng and Badaling sections of Great Wall.
This hike begins with a walk down a dirt path that leads to a small village, passing fields and orchards in an area that used to have a few mines. At the back of the village is a narrow path that runs up through orchards to join the first section of Great Wall that we'll follow.
In this first section of Great Wall, it's just the climb to the second tower that is a little steep. After that, though, the ups and downs are a little more gradual. The wall follows the ridgeline, allowing views of mountains on one side, and the Longquanyu water canyon on the other. In places, it is overgrown and bushy, sometimes tumbled down.
The Great Wall is often built up and down incredibly steep hillsides; a highlight of this section is a special spot where the wall meets a cliff that forms a natural barrier, the steps of the wall leading up to a sheer cliff. It makes a good spot for a short break, but there's not much room for sitting. Quite obviously we cannot continue any further, so we'll backtrack a little and take a hillside detour, walking through chestnut orchards to get back on to our second section of wall for the day.
The second section of Great Wall continues much as the first, and a natural barrier will again force us off. This time, though, it's a valley that makes it difficult to continue, with the ruined wall making a steep descent into the valley. Instead of trying a dangerous descent over loose rocks and bricks dislodged by trees and weathering, we'll follow a thin dirt trail down the hill, into the valley, and then past the remnants of the wall as we head for the Little West Lake.
After getting on to the valley floor the walking is flat and easy, following park trails over a drawbridge and around the Little West Lake, actually a reservoir formed by a dam. After making a circuit of the water, we'll head down to the carpark to meet our bus, and take a short drive to the restaurant where we'll have our late lunch.
Hot Springs Resort in Shunyi
We used to visit a tiny little private hot springs hotel in the Changping countryside, but they’ve ‘shut down for renovations’, as the saying goes. We think hot springs are great after a winter hike, so we found another larger resort, closer to the city, and part of a five-star hotel – really nice!
We’ll spend two hours at the hot springs resort, looking to head back to the city at or before 5pm.
At the resort there are more than 30 pools both inside and outside, and we’ll buy you a ticket that gets you access to the whole lot.
As well as the hot pools, there’s a swimming pool with lanes, steam rooms, sauna rooms, showers, and they say there’s even a pool filled with heated red wine.
The resort supplies towels, slippers, and lockers. You’ll need to bring your own swimsuit.
Food and drinks can be purchased inside the resort, but isn’t covered by the entry fee. Bring some small change in case you get hungry or thirsty.
What to bring on this hike
- Snacks to eat
- Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat
- Good hiking boots
- Swimming outfit (slippers and towels provided).
- A further change of clothes is optional.
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)