The Hidden Village

Hike forested valleys, hills, and ridgelines, passing by an abandoned village on the way up to a superb lookout point. Overnighter option

Level 3+
3–4 hours of hiking over approx. 9km. (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

Contact us for schedule updates or set up a private hike

Hikers on a trail that leads between birch trees
Hikers on a trail, heading up the valley that leads to the Hidden Village.

Holiday traffic: There’s a chance we’ll get stuck in bad traffic at some point during the drive, and we might be back to Beijing later than estimated. We’d recommend not making fixed plans for the evening, just in case!

Parts of the trail may be bushy and/or overgrown, and on our June 2015 visit we had to weave around a few fallen trees.

This hike begins in the village of Sancha, one of our favourite destinations in the countryside. After a gentle walk up a valley road, we’ll reach an intersection that we often walk right past on another of our hikes in the same area. Regular hikers may have noted this intersection and wondered where we would end up if we turned that way instead – on this hike we will find out!

The turnoff leads us up through terraced hills, following a dirt road alongside a small stream. In winter the stream slowly freezes, building up thin layers of ice that gradually escape the banks of the river and cover the road and valley floor with a very slippery surface. The road climbs gradually, passing abandoned stone houses, woods, and fields on the way up to remains of a tiny old village located at a fork in the valley.

The village used to be home to the childhood sweetheart of our local guide, and he says all the girls of the village were very beautiful. Perhaps there was something in the water!

From the abandoned village we’ll continue up the valley, aiming for the not-so-successful chestnut plantation that is a joint venture between an investment group from overseas and a Beijinger who returned to China after studying abroad. On the way up to the orchard the trail gets steeper, and after the orchard it gets steeper again as we pick a trail through the forest, aiming for the ridgeline that will take us up to a lookout point up on top. This part of the hike involves a bit of bushwhacking, pushing through leaves and ducking branches, so we recommend wearing trousers and a long-sleeved shirt.

The forest is part of a conservation area, and the aim is to encourage regrowth on the hills that will help build up a good layer of topsoil and prevent dust getting blown about. Our local guide lead a team that went through the area, marking boundaries, and figuring out how best to encourage growth through selective thinning.

On previous trips we have spotted the prints of wild pigs, and heard plenty of birdsong.

After a final push through the foliage, we’ll reach the lookout point - a group of big rocks at around about 1,000 metres above sea level. From the lookout we’ll get a good view of the surrounding mountains and forest, and if the weather is clear we’ll be able to spot Great Wall in the distance. On really clear days we’ve been able to see the Huanghuacheng Great Wall to the south-west, and the Mutianyu Great Wall off in the west.

From the lookout it’s down all the way, following a more distinct trail down a different valley. In places it’s steep and slippery, with loose dirt and small rocks, but after a while we’ll turn on to a less steep path that goes through small clearings in the woods, and then down through old terraces on the way back down the road, and then back to our starting point.

Make it an overnighter Would you like to hang about after the hike and stay over at our local guide’s house, and then join the Pinnacle Tower hike the next day? Let us know, there are a few spare rooms at his house, and you’d get a taste of rustic village living. Facilities are basic – i.e. you won’t be able to shower – and you’ll share a kang bed with another hiker or two. Dinner, bed, and breakfast cost an extra 120 RMB per person on top of the cost of the two hikes.

Holiday traffic: There’s a chance we’ll get stuck in bad traffic at some point during the drive, and we might be back to Beijing later than estimated. We’d recommend not making fixed plans for the evening, just in case!

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • Parts of the trail may be overgrown and bushy.
  • There’s one slippery descent to make.

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The current precautions are minimal. Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

Related content

Photos and trip reports: The Hidden Village

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