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Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

In Brief: An easier version of one of our tough Great Wall hikes in Yanqing District – the same great scenery, but less of the steep climbs up and down.

Switchback Great Wall | Climbing up to the General's Tower

Approaching the General’s Tower on the middle route of the Switchback Great Wall.

Key information

  • 3–4 hours start to finish over 7.5km.

Bring your passport / ID card (or a copy) with you on this hike in case the border crossing guards decide they want to check us on the way home.

Weather note: if rain or thunder is forecast we might not be able to hike. We have more Great Wall hikes this week, just in case.

This stretch of Great Wall in Yanqing County is extremely picturesque and seldom visited, but the steepness of it makes it difficult for casual hikers. On this visit we’ll do the ‘middle route,’ cutting out the toughest parts to make it a little easier. There are still some steep climbs to do, but overall this hike isn’t long enough to rate as difficult - we’ll take our time climbing up and down and make sure that we have a relaxed and enjoyable visit.

We’ll begin this hike with a reasonably easy climb up the hill behind Stone Valley Village. At the crest of the hill we’ll be in a great spot for photos, with a line of Ming Dynasty Great Wall on the ridgeline right in front of us and the rocky remains of a much older line of wall under our feet.

The line of wall we can see in front of us is the same section of Great Wall we’ll be walking today, and we’ll head on over that way, following another ridgeline trail down into a valley and then through a pass where the wall dips steeply down into a gap in the hills.

A shorter, steeper climb gets us on top of the main line of Ming Dynasty Great Wall here, and after a break to catch our breath we’ll head on, hiking on the wall as we head for the ‘General’s Tower’, the highest point of the hike.  Far below, we’ll see the small village where we’ll be finishing the walk.

We’ll be on the wall for around about 3km, with a few steep climbs up and down as well as two short detours off the wall to avoid broken sections.

Eventually we’ll leave the wall and follow a valley trail that will take us down to the small village we spotted earlier. We’ll take you to a countryside restaurant for a tasty hot meal before we start the drive back to the city.

What to bring on this hike

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • It’s not a very long hike, but parts of it are rather steep.
  • We occasionally meet bad traffic on the way, going through the Badaling pass.

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: 7.5km
  • Time to complete: 3–4 hours
  • Start height: 682m
  • Peak: 1,036m
  • Finish height: 686m
  • Location: Yanqing

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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