The High Tower Loop hike
A loop hike through mountainous terrain that takes you up to the High Tower, one of the highest Great Wall towers in Beijing.
This is a looping version of our High Tower hike, taking a newly-scouted hill trail up to a rough line of wall and following that up to the restored section that peaks at the High Tower. To come back down, we’ll walk around the rough and unrestored section of Great Wall that leads to the hill trail that will take us all the way back down.
Our start point is at the end of the road, up a long valley. We begin with a short walk on a gravel road, and on to a rough dirt trail that will take us up to a dip in a ridgeline. Not many people walk this way, and the trail is likely to be a little bushy.
This dip in the ridgeline must have been an important crossing place back in the Ming Dynasty, as it looks to have been heavily fortified. We’ll take a break on the ruined foundations of a huge tower that was built beside a large rock outcrop – quite a unique view.
From this point we’re following the Great Wall all the way up to the High Tower.
The first section here is very rough and steep, and you’ll need to take it slow. If you’re not good with heights, you won’t enjoy this section – the footing is quite loose, and you can see quite a drop.
We’ll walk by five ruined towers, heading up slowly. After the fifth tower we’ll be on to the restored section, fixed up in 2014. The footing here is much more solid, but you’ve still got some steep climbing, in particular the super-steep steps just below the High Tower.
At 1,440m above sea level, this tower is visible from other hikes we do in the same hills: it’s east of the Big Plate Camp hike, and to the west of the Switchback Great Wall hike. This means we’ll have excellent views of the Great Wall on either side.
We’ll stop beside the High Tower for a lunch break, and to enjoy the views. A few minutes’ walk away are some more peaks, and you’ll have time to take a wander. From one of the peaks, you can see all the way back to Beijing on a clear day.
After our lunch break, we’ll head down the hill, following a different path through forested hills and valleys. We skirt a broken and slippery section of wall, and then follow it down for a little while before turning on to a zig-zag hill trail that leads down to the village roads and the carpark where we’ll meet our bus again.