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Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

In Brief: Hike the Great Wall in the afternoon, and then see the sun set from a lookout point on the wall above the Huanghuacheng Reservoir.

The Great Wall at Huanghuacheng

The Great Wall at Huanghuacheng. View more photos »

Key information

  • 3–4 hours of hiking over approx. 5km.

Rain date: if rain (or thunder/lightning) is forecast for the evening then we’ll postpone this trip to Monday, May 29. (In 2016 we had to do postpone due to lightning, and the weather the next day was perfect.)

Dragon Boat Festival holiday hikes—leaving at midday means we should avoid the worst of the traffic, but we still may get stuck in a jam at some stage. Bring a book or something else to keep yourself entertained, just in case!

Make a mid-afternoon visit to Huanghuacheng for a walk on the wall, followed by a big dinner at one of our favourite countryside restaurants. After dinner, climb up on to another stretch of wall to watch the sun go down.

The hiking trail is the same as our popular Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall walk, a great combination of unrestored and restored Great Wall that offers superb views of hills, mountains, and reservoirs.

Note: The length of the hike is like a Level 2, but some of the climbing is more like what’s found on a Level 4. Just for a little while, though!

We start off near a walled village that was once an army barracks during the Ming Dynasty. The tall and thick stone walls remain, and it’s possible to explore inside.

Surrounding the village are fields and chestnut orchards, the main source of income for those who live nearby, and in the hills above the village runs a stretch of the Yellow Flower Great Wall.

We’ll follow the villagers’ field trails up into the hills, passing the chestnut orchards on the way to the narrow hill trail that will take us up to the Great Wall.

It’s here where the trail gets steep for the first time on the hike, with a good climb up the zig-zagging dirt path that leads to the wall.

This first stretch of wall that we’ll see 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.

We’ll follow the wall east, passing through towers and using side trails to skip broken down sections. After 45-50 minutes, we’ll be on to the restored section – a good chance to see what the wall might have looked like when first built.

A climb down a steep set of stairs takes us to a big arch in the wall, and we’ll take a break to catch our breath before another steep climb. From this point, we’ll be on repaired Great Wall.

After a rest, it’s onward and upward, with another 45 or minutes of climbing to get to the highest point on the hike, a lookout point that offers 360° views of the surrounding countryside and more of the wall.

Below, we’ll see a local reservoir. The wall leads down to the reservoir, and back up the hills on the other side. We’ll follow the wall down to the last tower before the reservoir, and then exit to take a path down the hill, passing small guesthouses on the way to the road and the restaurant where we’ll have a big dinner.

Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

After dinner we’ll climb up on to the wall on the other side of the reservoir to watch the sun slowly sink behind the mountains. It’s a 20–30 minute walk that’s steep in a few places—don’t drink too much beer at dinnertime! The views from the wall here are awesome, and with the special soft light in the hour or so before sundown you’ll get some great photos.

Bad weather plan

If the forecast is for rain it might work out more comfortable to watch the sunset from the patio of the restaurant. Fingers crossed for fine weather!

Planned itinerary

12:30–14:30 - drive to the start of the hike
14:30–18:00 - hiking
18:00–18:45 - dinner at restaurant
18:45–19:15 - climb up to the wall
19:34 - sunset
20:30–22:00 - back to bus and drive to Beijing

What to bring on this hike

  • Snacks to eat
  • Sun protection: long-sleeved shirt, hat
  • A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
  • Rain jacket or poncho just in case
  • Warm clothes in case it gets chilly in the evening
  • Good hiking boots
  • (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • It’s quite a short hike, but the climbing is steep—both up and down.
  • An afternoon hike could feel pretty tough on a hot day, and there’s not a lot of shade on the Great Wall.
  • The length of the hike is like a Level 2, but the climbing is more like what’s found on a Level 4.

There are risks involved in hiking. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Level3+

Level of difficulty

Level 3+ is a ‘tougher’ moderate hike. There may be long climbs up hills, and there may be steep sections.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: approx. 5km
  • Time to complete: 3–4 hours
  • Total ascent: 402m
  • Total descent: 449m
  • Start height: 318m
  • Peak: 538m
  • Finish height: 271m
  • Location: Huairou
  • Drive time: 2 hours each way

Hikes in Beijing

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