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Jiankou ‘Big West’ Great Wall

In Brief: Follow hill trails through shaded valleys on the way up to the Great Wall on the west side of Jiankou.

The Great Wall at Jiankou

Unrepaired ‘wild’ Great Wall at Jiankou. View more photos »

Key information

  • 3–4 hours start to finish over 7km.

Weather note: if rain or thunder is forecast we might not be able to hike. We have another Great Wall hike the next day, just in case.

This hike is a shortened version of our Nine-Eyes Tower trail. We’ll see a lot of the same scenery, but we’ll skip the super-tough scramble up to the Nine-Eyes Tower.

Starting off at one of the smaller villages in the Jiankou area, we’ll warm up with a slow climb up into the hills, following little paths that the villagers use to get to the fields where they grow their corn and chestnuts.

The trail takes us up into a forested area, and through pastures that were used to farm cows. The stonewall cattle pens are still in evidence, although hidden in the undergrowth. The long grass is a good sign that there haven’t been any cows in here for quite a while!

Passing old stone walls and terraces, the trail starts to get steep again as the Great Wall comes into view on the ridgeline above.

At the top of the trail is Er Dao Bian Tower, the start of the Nine-Eyes tower loop. Er Dao Bian roughly translates as ‘Two Roads On Each Side,’ and at this point in the hike we’ll be at approximately 900m above sea level.

From here, we’ll follow the wall south towards the Chinese Knot section, passing around and over ten towers. The first four towers are not in the best condition, and the trail we take sometimes skirts around sections that are too steep or too broken to walk on, and it’s in this part where we’ll find the trickiest descent of the hike.

After a while we’ll be back on to solid footing, and we’ll get excellent views of the Big West Wall: solid and uncommonly tall foundations made of huge carved rocks topped with Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) brickwork and towers.

On a clear day we’ll be able to see how much Great Wall is in this area – rather a lot! – and we can sometimes see all the way over to Mutianyu, a famous tourist section of Great Wall.

At the tenth tower, we’ll leave the wall and follow a trail back to Xizhazi Village – steep and slippery at the beginning, flattening out as we pass through a lovely forested area and the villagers’ orchards and fields.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • There are some tricky ups and downs on quite loose footing that will not be enjoyable if you don’t like heights or don’t have shoes with good grip.
  • The trail could be brushy and scratchy in places.
  • The stretch of wall we follow is about 2km in length, out of a total 6km for the whole hike. You’ll see a lot of wall, but you’ll be on top of it for about 2km

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

Level3

Level of difficulty

Level 3 hikes are the type we do most often. Level 3 hikes will take around 3 hours, and can be either reasonably easy, or challenging, depending on how often you exercise.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: 7km
  • Time to complete: 3–4 hours
  • Total ascent: 436m
  • Total descent: 408m
  • Start height: 609m
  • Peak: 922m
  • Finish height: 637m
  • Location: Huairou
  • Drive time: 2–2.5 hours each way

Hikes in Beijing

We publish our hike schedule month by month, with updates around the 10th of each month.

If you're interested in hikes and trips during a month that's not yet listed, use our contact form to let us know and we'll send you a quick email when the schedule is online.

Hike in Beijing calendar

See the Hike in Beijing schedule in our calendar


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