Pinnacle Tower | The descent from the Pinnacle Tower
The steep descent from the Pinnacle Tower.

The Pinnacle Tower

Hike park trails and hills on the way to the Pinnacle Tower, a seldomly-visited Ming Dynasty lookout that sits on a peak at almost 1,000m above sea level. NOTE: Balancing skills and a good head for heights will be required.

Level 4
4–5 hours start to finish over 8km (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

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Replacement hike—we’d planned to do the Yellow Grass Plateau hike, but local friends tell us the trailhead is shut down until October. (Something about construction of something …)

This stretch of the Great Wall sits on the “Big Eastern Mountain” in Huairou, and it’s a hike we don’t do frequently. The view from the top of the Pinnacle Tower is stunning and well worth the tough climb.

We start in a semi-abandoned park, and head up a paved trail to get to the first stretch of Great Wall we’ll find on this hike. It’s a longer trail than our usual path, but it’s pretty easy going.

We’re not going to walk on the wall here, as this short stretch is a dead end, finishing against a fairly sheer block of rock. We’ll have time to take a peek at a tower that’s now being used as a goat-pen instead of a lookout, but the next part of the hike is going to take us away from the wall again.

We continue with another long climb up a valley, passing through some nice leafy glades along the way. Once we get up on to the ridgeline, we follow a trail alongside the Great Wall that skirts a cliff-like section that we wouldn’t want to try climbing down. The wall in this area is tall, and makes quite a sight when seen through the leaves and limbs of the dense bush that covers the hills here.

The final approach to the Pinnacle Tower
The final approach to the Pinnacle Tower. (Click for larger image)

The trail takes us to a gate in the wall, and then on to it and up all the way to the Pinnacle Tower, approximately 980 meters above sea level, and with a 360° view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Great Wall on both sides of the Pinnacle Tower is very steep, and is not in great condition. If you’re not good at balancing or are not good with heights, you won’t enjoy this hike.

We’ll stop for a break up top, and then follow a steep and tricky path down the wall. Eventually the wall becomes too steep to walk on, so we’ll get out and on to a bushy hill trail that will take us down on to flat ground by a large holding pen of some sort. Nearby is a big gate in the wall.

After making our way down from the wall, we’ll walk through a village to reach the main road, where we’ll finish with a Beijing Hikers-style picnic.

Related content

Photos and trip reports: The Pinnacle Tower

  1. Pinnacle Tower, 2018/04/29

    Pinnacle Tower hike, 2018/04/29

    The Pinnacle Tower hike is a short but steep trail that peaks at a tall tower in the mountains—see 12 shots from the climb up and over the top.

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