The Changyucheng ‘Long Valley City’ hike starts from the small town of this name which lies at the base of an unrestored section of Great Wall. The village is home to a tree that is several hundred years old as well as a troupe of traditional Chinese opera performers, all senior citizens, whose hobby it is to occasionally act out scenes from famous operas for visitors.
The village was originally an army barracks for soldiers in charge of the nearby section of Great Wall, and parts of the old fortifications remain: the surrounding walls in the hills, the larger walls that encircled the barracks, and some of the large archways that allowed access.
From this small village we headed up to the reservoir at the head of the long valley and walked around it to enter the nice shady forest. From there, the path at first rose slowly and then turned into a series of switchbacks which climbed out of the valley and up the hillsides, giving us a good view of the surrounding countryside.
The goal and high point of this hike was a Ming Dynasty tower which had been part of the local Great Wall fortifications. From the tower, it's possible to see back down to the village and the old barracks, and in the opposite direction the main stretch of wall in the area is in sight. We think that the tower was built to allow signals to be sent from the main stretch of wall down to the barracks.
After we got back to the village, we had a tasty lunch and took a quick look at the village's temple and ancient tree.