Walk up valleys, over ridges, through tiny mountain hamlets, and past a big reservoir on the way to the end of this rambling walk through the hills of Pinggu District. 18km with over 1,000m of ascent – an excellent way to stretch your legs during the May holiday. This hike joins together two shorter trails: the Prove Your Loyalty hike, and the Perfect Loop hike.
Prove Your Loyalty
We start off following a concrete path up the valley and into the hills. It’s a scenic walk up the valley, and the path is bordered by trees and hills, with large rocks and boulders that are said to have a volcanic origin.
Further up the valley we’ll start to see some of the old villages – there are quite a few hidden in the hills, and some shouldn’t really even count as villages, with just a few houses clumped together.
After passing through some of the smaller settlements, we’ll reach a larger hamlet – perhaps ten houses, and a big water store. Up until this point the hike will have been fairly easy, a long gentle climb on good footing. But from this village, we head up into the hills, following a fairly rough hill trail up to the remains of some Great Wall.
We’ll climb up on to the wall and stop for a lunch break. If you’ve got a bit of extra energy we’ll take you up to the remains of a big round tower – just a pile of stones now, but perhaps part of the wall that the villagers were forced to pull down.
After we’re all rested we’ll head on, following a trail that’s half on the wall, half off the wall. This area is all forested and fairly overgrown, and sometimes we need to scout around a bit to see where we’re supposed to be walking!
We follow the general path of the wall until we reach the valley that marks our turn off, following an old field path through fallow, terraced fields, passing abandoned stone houses on the way to a concrete road that marks the upper bounds of another of the parks in the hills.
We’ll pass modern buildings that look like they were supposed to be part of a hotel, and walk down towards a lake. This marks the point where we join up with our Perfect Loop trail.
The Perfect Loop
We’ll be doing the last half of the loop today, starting on a dirt trail that begins on the side of the lake.
This dirt trail will take us up to a village, one with an interesting back story. The village is named Paomachang, which roughly translates as ‘horse running field’, as in a racecourse.
It’s said that this area was used for roughly that purpose during the Jin and Liao Dynasties (between 900-1200 AD), a place for the war horses to run about.
This is one of Beijing Hiker’s apocryphal stories, and we’re now not sure whom we heard it from! It’s an interesting story though, and as we walk by we’ll see if we think the area would have worked well for racing horses.
Continuing along the dirt trail, we’ll walk on into part of a park, out down a road, and then up a concrete road to find the last of the villages along our trail, a tiny ten-house village on a plateau. This is the last big climb of the day, and we make it a bit tougher by using some steep old hill trails as a shortcut.
Previously lacking in residents, the village has seen a little development. It is certainly not lacking in views of the surrounding scenery. The older houses of the village are mainly constructed from the flat stones found on the plateau; newer houses have used bricks.
We once met an old man at the foot of the hill, and he invited us to his house and told us some tales of the village – how the village was originally settled so far from a water source because of a lack of better choice for their poor ancestors, and how the villagers used to have to take their donkeys to fetch water from a distant spring before the construction of a water-pipe.
We’ll walk out through the village, follow a concrete road for a little while, and then turn off on to a hill trail that takes us down through terraced valleys and past pine trees to the end of the hike.
What to bring on this hike
- Lunch and snacks to eat while hiking
- Sun protection: long-sleeved shirt, hat
- A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
- Good hiking boots
- (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)
Reasons you might not enjoy this hike
- The trail is seldom-used and will be bushy in places.
- There’s some walking on narrow concrete roads in the hills.