This hike in the mountains west of Beijing followed a pilgrim trail along a ridge with great views of some pretty incredible scenery. After driving into Mentougou District, we started walking from the parking lot below the mountain-top temple at Miaofengshan. We had a short climb to mount the crest of the ridge we followed for most of the way, and once at the top, we were able to enjoy a refreshing breeze that stayed with us for the rest of the day.
The trail continued from the ridge, past some solitary farmhouses, and across some flat areas and through small wooded groves of pines and fragrant juniper. We had a leisurely lunch not too far from a lookout tower that is used to spot wildland fires during fire season, and walked over to a bare rock outcrop that afforded us the best vista we had all day of the scenic mountainscape.
From our lunch spot, we headed down a shady path that followed a valley down the mountain. We crossed a paved mountain road and stayed on the trail until it ended in the village that is home to Dajue Si, a peaceful, quiet temple. After having an opportunity to look around inside the temple walls and check out the small market outside the front gate, we had our beer and snacks before driving back into the city.
Statistics: 4 hours of walking over approx. 8.5km. Start height 780m, finish height 123m, highest point 1,028m. Total climbing up approx. 260m, total climbing down approx. 900m. Estimated 1,638kCal burned.