This is a reasonably tough hike that crosses three sections of Great Wall, with views of mountains, water, small villages, and chestnut orchards on the way to the end.
While the hike is just 11km long, there’s a lot of steep climbing on the wall, making this a good choice for views and exercise.
We begin by following a dirt trail down from the main road, walking through chestnut orchards to reach a small village.
From the village, we’ll take a semi-secret trail that leads from the orchards at the back of the village up to a recently restored section of Great Wall.
The wall follows the ridgeline, allowing views of mountains on one side, and the Longquanyu Water Canyon on the other.
Walking along the wall, we’ll come to a special spot where the wall meets a cliff that forms a natural barrier. We’ll take a hillside detour, walking through chestnut orchards to get back on to our second section of wall for the day.
This second section of wall starts off ‘wild’ and unrestored, not to mention steep! We’ll follow it to another restored stretch which dips down steeply into another valley, forested and leafy with a trickle of water running through it.
Sometimes we walk down the valley to get to the Little West Lake, a scenic area popular with daytrippers, but today we’re doing it the hard way, with a steep climb on the wall up to the towers at the top of the other side of the valley - well worth it for the super views of the Great Wall running down the ridge towards the lake.
On the other side of the lake we’ll be able to see some more Great Wall—our next target! We’ll follow the hike down towards the lake, and then over the big bridge to walk out through the scenic area.
After walking out to a large carpark, we’ll follow a hill trail up to the Great Wall we spotted a little earlier on the hike.
This stretch of wall 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.
After a short climb on the hill trail we’ll be beside the wall. We’ll take a break here to see how the Great Wall runs along a cliff over the reservoir before continuing up the hill trail, a longer climb which will take us up to a big tower that offers superb views of the lake below, and the line of Great Wall we hiked earlier in the day.
Further along the wall we’ll reach the highest point on today’s hike, a tower on a corner in the wall.
On a clear day the views along this stretch will be excellent, with mountains all around, and a line of wall seen stretching off into the far distance.
We’ll follow the wall east, passing through towers and using side trails to skip broken down sections. This is going to be a bit tricky, particularly on tired legs.
Ending up with a descent down a steep set of stairs to get to the Zhuangdaokou Pass. From here we’ll follow a paved path down a valley to finish the hike. Not far from the end of the trail is a nice little countryside restaurant where we’ll stop for an early dinner before heading back to Beijing.
What to bring on this hike
- Light packed lunch and snacks to eat
- Warm clothes in case it gets chilly
- 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
- Some parts of the Great Wall here are really steep.