Not recommended for those who are not good with heights; some steep sections both up and down.
Note: The length of the hike is like a Level 2, but some of the climbing is more like what's found on a Level 4. Just for a little while, though!
We start off near a walled village that was once an army barracks during the Ming Dynasty. The tall and thick stone walls remain, and it's possible to explore inside.
Surrounding the village are fields and chestnut orchards, the main source of income for those who live nearby, and in the hills above the village runs a stretch of the Yellow Flower Great Wall.
We’ll follow the villagers’ field trails up into the hills, passing the chestnut orchards on the way to the narrow hill trail that will take us up to the Great Wall.
It’s here where the trail gets steep for the first time on the hike, with a good climb up the zig-zagging dirt path that leads to the wall.
This first stretch of wall that we’ll see is unrestored and hasn’t been touched since the Ming Dynasty. Parts of it are in good shape, and other parts are tumbled-down and in rough condition.
We’ll follow the wall east, passing through towers and using side trails to skip broken down sections. After 45-50 minutes, we’ll be on to the restored section – a good chance to see what the wall might have looked like when first built.
A climb down a steep set of stairs takes us to a big arch in the wall, and we'll take a break to catch our breath before another steep climb. From this point, we'll be on repaired Great Wall.
After a rest, it’s onward and upward, with another 45 or minutes of climbing to get to the highest point on the hike, a lookout point that offers 360° views of the surrounding countryside and more of the wall.
Below, we’ll see a local reservoir. The wall leads down to the reservoir, and back up the hills on the other side. We’ll follow the wall down to the last tower before the reservoir, and then exit to take a path down the hill, passing small guesthouses on the way to the road and the restaurant where we’ll have a big meal before heading back to the city.
But before we get back to the city, the hot springs!
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
- Swimsuit for the hot springs, and a change of clothes if you'd like. (You can leave all this on the bus while you hike.)
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- It's quite a short hike, but the climbing is steep—both up and down.
- There's one really steep descent on the first part of the restored section, with narrow steps, no parapets to hang on to, and a view all the way down to the bottom about 20 metres below.
- The length of the hike is like a Level 2, but the climbing is more like what's found on a Level 4.