The Great Wall at Huanghuacheng is the closest line of non-touristy Great Wall to Beijing city – just 1.5 hours’ drive on a good day.
The hike combines ‘wild’ Great Wall and a repaired section in a compact package. It’s easily doable in a day. You’ll see steep and weathered remains of Ming Dynasty wall, and a repaired section where you can see the wall as it may have looked like when first built – sights usually only available on longer, tougher Great Wall walks.
3–4 hours walking over 6km.
Included: English-speaking hiking guide, bottled water, snacks, lunch and drinks, hiking sticks, tickets, transportation in private vehicle.
The Huanghuacheng Great Wall
Beijing Municipality has more than 600km of Great Wall, found mainly in the mountains north and northeast of the city. The majority of Beijing’s Great Wall dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but there are remnants of much older wall to be found, too.
The Huanghuacheng Great Wall is Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall, and was built in the late 1500s. The Huanghuacheng Great Wall has a solid foundation of cut stones, with bricks used for the battlements and towers. This type of construction is seen only in the later Ming Dynasty walls.
The Great Wall here was built to defend a pass that leads from the northern plains down to Beijing. There are also watchtowers built on high hills and fortified barracks that housed soldiers.
There are two lakes at either end of this line of wall, made by dams built in the 1970s and ‘90s. You’ll have superb views of both lakes from high above, with the Great Wall dipping down into the water.
The eastern end of the Huanghuacheng Great was renovated in 2004. The western end is totally untouched, and has been that way since the Ming Dynasty.
The Lonely Planet guidebook recommends this area as a great place to visit for a walk, and we agree – we’ve been enjoying hikes here since the early 2000s. Our route for the walk is planned to show you the best sights of the area.
We’ll first explore the unrestored ‘wild’ western end of this line of wall. Then we’ll hike along the wall to the restored section, passing the huge Zhuangdaokou gate along the way.
As you hike, your guide will provide historical information about what you’re seeing, and will answer any questions you have.
The hiking trail
This is a short hike – just about 6km – but the all the climbing up and down on the trail will make it feel a lot longer. It’s steep in places, with a tough climb to get up on to the wall, and then more climbing up and down on the way to the end.
We begin the hike near a farming village that grew up around a fort built to house soldiers during the Ming Dynasty. We’ll take a quick look at the big gate and tall, strong walls of the fort before climbing up to the Great Wall
To get up on to the wall we make a slow climb through fields of chestnut orchards before hitting a zig-zagging hill trail that takes us through a pine forest up to a big tower on the ‘wild’ wall.
From the tower we make a 30-minute out-and-back exploration along the wall. We’ll hike over to a big tower to see the steep line of broken down wall that dips down into Little West Lake far below – one of the best views in Beijing.
Looking back, you’ll also see what’s coming up next – a walk on top of the wall, passing through big towers on the way to the restored section on a distant peak. Even further on, you’ll be able to see the Great Wall continuing over the mountains.
The hike continues on the wall, with short descents on slippery sections, and then down a steep set of stairs on to the restored part of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall.
At this deep dip in the wall we’ll see the big arched gate at Zhuangdaokou, built to control the pass through the hills.
From the dip it’s up again—a steep climb up that passes two intact towers on the way to the peak.
At the peak, you’ll have views of mountains, more wall, and the blue water of the Huanghuacheng Reservoir.
From the peak we’ll follow the wall as it dips down steeply to the reservoir, passing through more towers and finishing the walk on a dirt trail.
Fear of heights and loose surfaces
If you have big problems with heights or a fear of slipping on loose surfaces, we recommend you do a customised, shorter version of this hike, or try the Gubeikou Great Wall private hike.
3–4 hours of hiking over 6km. 487m ascent, 526m descent. Highest point 540m.
Easier versions of this hike
There are many options for a shorter, easier hike in this area.
Easy option 1: Walled Village to Huanghuacheng
Skip the ‘wild’ wall, and start your hike with a stroll through chestnut orchards to the Zhuangdaokou arch before climbing up the restored section.
Stats: approx. 3 hours of hiking over 4km. 230m ascent, 272m descent.
Easy option 2: Walled Village to Little West Lake
Skip the renovated Great Wall, and start your hike with a stroll through chestnut orchards to the Zhuangdaokou arch before climbing up the ‘wild’ section, finishing at the Little West Lake.
Stats: 3–4 hours of hiking over 5km. 320m ascent, 323m descent.
Let us know if you’d prefer either of those options when you make your booking.
Beijing Hikers reserves the right to alter, postpone, or cancel the hike if participation is deemed unsafe for hiking, for example but not excluding forecast temperatures above 35°C, heavy rain or storms forecast, strong winds, icy or closed roads.
- 08:00 - Depart from your hotel
- 10:00 - Begin the hike
- 14:00 - Finish the hike
- 14:15 - Lunch at countryside restaurant
- 15:00 - Begin drive back to your hotel
- 17:00 - Arrive at your hotel
Travel and hike times are approximate, and depend on traffic and the pace at which you hike. We can leave earlier in the morning, or later, if preferred – it’s up to you!
What is included in the cost?
- Round-trip transport in private vehicle from central Beijing
- Beijing Hikers staff hiking guide
- Bottled mineral water (four bottles per person)
- A banana and a muesli bar
- Entry tickets (where applicable)
- Local guide (where applicable)
- Meal of Chinese food at countryside restaurant at the end of the hiking trail. Includes soft drinks and local beer.
- Hiking poles available on request.
What is not included in the cost?
- Anything not specifically mentioned as being included can be counted as not included.
- Beijing Hikers doesn’t include any shopping trips. Don’t worry about that.
What do you need to bring?
- Basic hiking gear, including a light backpack.
- Strong, sturdy footwear with good grip.
- Comfortable layers of clothing (dress warmly for winter).
- Waterproof jacket or poncho.
- Sun protection: hat, long-sleeved shirt, suncream.
- Toilet paper and wet wipes.
- A plastic bag to carry away any of your used tissues or banana peels.
Where do we meet up?
For a private trip, we’ll come to meet you at your hotel or hostel in Beijing. Your guide will arrive early and shoot you a text when they’re in the lobby and ready to go.
How long will it take to drive there?
The Huanghuacheng Great wall is 1.5–2 hours away from central Beijing. Bad traffic may increase travel time.
How do you pay for the trip?
For small groups, your guide will collect the payment in cash when they meet you. For larger groups, you’ll pay a deposit to confirm the booking, with the balance due on the day of the hike. We’ll provide payment details and methods as part of the booking process.