Home > Great Wall Hiking > 5 Days Classic Great Wall Hiking Tour
This tour starts with a visit to the East Qing Tombs, the burial site for most of China's last ruling dynasty. You'll then be taken to the Great Wall at Huangyaguan, which features classic brickwork, imposing watchtowers, and immense natural beauty. In fact, Huangyaguan is designed to be a miniature representation of the entire Great Wall, allowing you to get a keen insight on the structure in a much shorter time than it would take to walk the entire wall! After Huangyaguan we will embark for the classic Gubeikou hike, an unrestored section of "wild" Great Wall. We'll then cross east over into Jinshanling, which features magnificent watchtowers and grand beautiful brickwork. You will be amazed at how the Great Wall here snakes and winds its way along the valley. You'll also have the opportunity to stay in Gubei Watertown for a night and hike into the western portion of Simatai, an area known for its steepness and challenging paths. Our next hike will be at Jiankou Great Wall, which features dramatic peaks and ruins that are a photographer's dream. You'll soon hike over into Mutianyu, one of the most famous and popular sections of Great Wall, but one which has escaped the tackiness of other popular Great Wall spots. The last day you'll be driven to Huanghuacheng, which features classically restored brickwork and some stunning scenery. About halfway through the hike we'll pass over into Xishuiyu, a little known section of Great Wall that is unrestored, meaning that the "wild wall" starts to take hold.
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(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
DAY 1 East Qing Tombs / Huangyaguan (LD)
5km/2-2.5hrs hiking;
Beijing/East Qing tombs 130km/2.5-3hrs driving; East Qing tombs/Taipingzhai 30km/1hr driving;

This morning, we will drive about 3 hours to the spectacular East Qing tombs. The East Qing Tombs make up an imperial mausoleum complex from the last feudal empire in China, the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This sacred burial ground is located near Beijing in Zunhua, Hebei Province. The Eastern Qing Tombs are the final resting place of 5 emperors: Shunzhi, Kangxi, Qianlong, Xianfeng, and Tongzhi. In addition, there are also empresses, imperial concubines, princes, and princesses, all from the Qing Dynasty buried in the tombs. Their positioning within the tombs shows their relationships and the hierarchy of rulers and heirs, laid out in a branch-like system.

After lunch, we will make a one hour drive to Taipingzhai Village near Huangyaguan Great Wall. Huangyaguan is considered to be a miniature of the Great Wall of China. In this section, you can find the stone base built in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 - 557) and the brick battlements laid in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Watchtowers there are either solid or hollow, and have different shapes, including round ones and square ones. Outside, you may see independent outposts a few meters away from each other; inside, there are also ramparts to reinforce the defense system. Because the cliff rocks to the east of the pass are mostly yellow and they look gilded at the sunset, the pass got its name Huangya (Yellow Cliff) Pass.

There are two entrances to the scenic area: one is at Huangya Pass (main entrance) and the other is at Taiping Mountain Stronghold (east entrance). It is recommended to start from Taiping Mountain Stronghold and hike about 1.5-2 hours westwards to Huangya Pass. It is a relatively energy-saving route, because you will go downhill all the way to the pass. Besides, there are more farmhouses around the pass where you can have meals and rests. If you still feel very energetic after reaching the Huangya Pass, you can keep hiking westwards. With cracked stairs and collapsed towers along the way, an original section built in the Northern Qi Dynasty lies at the west end waiting for you to explore it.

Walking westward for 550 yards (503 meters) from the Huangya Pass, you will get to the steepest segment of this section, the Huangya Sky Ladder. Stairs there are not very smooth. Some of them even crack in the middle. Stretching to the top of the ridge, this long stairway seemingly leads to the sky. Climbing over the ladder(over 200 steps), you will reach the primitive Great Wall built in the Northern Qi Dynasty, marking the end of the Huangyaguan section.

Overnight at the courtyard hotel in Huangyaguan .

DAY 2 Gubeikou / Jinshanling / Stay in Gubei Watertown of Simatai (BLD)
10km/5-6hrs hiking;
Huangyaguan/Gubeikou 100km/2-2.5hrs driving; Jinshanling/Watertown 20km/30mins driving

After breakfast, we will transfer directly by safe van to Gubeikou section of the Great Wall. This is a 10 km hike from the authentic fortresses of the Gubeikou Great Wall eastward to the renovated staircases of Jinshanling Great Wall. The scenery here is stunning and the photo opportunities endless. We will enjoy the breathtaking views with a relatively peaceful hike. Note: Gubeikou to Jinshanling hike would be a little bit more difficult than the Jinshanling to Gubeikou hike, because the west terrain of Gubeikou is lower than the east part of Jinshanling, and travelers need to walk up from Gubeikou to Jinshanling. Both of this two trekking lines are stimulation and refreshing.

Our path along the wall takes us slowly up to the 24-Eyes Tower, the tallest in the area. It's named as such because it was built with six windows on each sides. Two sides of the tower have since fallen down, and the rest is being held together by a metal scaffold. If the weather is clear, we will be able to see the Wangjing Tower in the Simatai Section, about 20km away. From here it's theoretically possible to follow the wall all the way to Jinshanling, but it's practically impossible because the wall borders military land and is blocked off. So we follow a trail beside the wall, where some of the climbing is a little steep and tricky, with some scrambling required, but just for a while. On the way, we will take a pleasant diversion through Hemp village in Spider Valley, and heading on towards Jinshanling. Where we get back on the wall is the western end of Jinshanling, which is known for its well-maintained watch towers, quite close together. At lunchtime, if the day is too hot, we will have our picnic lunch inside one of the beacon towers, where it is always cool. We'll follow the wall down to Zhuanduo Pass, where we'll find a big statue of Qi Jiguang, a general of the Ming Dynasty who was responsible for the reinforcement of much Ming Dynasty Great Wall in Beijing. From there we'll follow the park road down to the big carpark at Jinshanling, where we'll finish the hike at a pre-designated time in the late afternoon.

Our minivan will meet us at the carpark and will transport us directly to our next spectacular destination, Gubei Watertown nearby the Mandarin Duck Lake lies at the foot of Simatai Great Wall. Check-in the comfortable economic guest house in the town. This watertown is a rare combo of Great Wall, mountains, lakes and old villages. With a massive backdrop of the world famous Simatai Great Wall, we could stroll around and experience at the same time the beauty of the water town as well as the grand Great Wall. Tonight you will be treated with a great dinner.

Overnight in the hostel at the bottom of Jinshanling itself (two persons per room, with private washroom).

DAY 3 Gubei Watertown / Simatai / Stay in Xishuiyu Village (BLD)
6km/2-3hrs hiking; Simatai/Xishuiyu 120km/2-2.5hrs driving

This morning is left free for us either to climb to the top of Simatai Great Wall for the sun-rising panoramic view of the whole area, or to explore the Watertown and experience unique local customs and participate in native activities (e.g. learining tie-dye, kite painting, need to be booked ahead of time).

Simatai Great Wall displays various patterns of construction. Here, you can not only view the conventional appearance of the Great Wall, with battlements on each side of the track, but also see on steep cliffs the half-wall style, with battlements built only on the outer side. The slope and width also change dramatically depending on the different terrain. Some segments along the gentle slopes are so wide and mild that even horses can walk on them. At other narrow points, only one person at a time is able to pass.

This section has 34 beacon towers, with 18 of them in the western part and 16 in the east. They are relatively close to each other, with the average distance apart about 460 feet (140 meters). Presently, only the eastern part from No. 1 Tower to No. 10 Tower has been restored and officially opened. Another feature of Simatai is the diverse architectural styles of the beacon towers; there are two-storey or three-storey towers, and towers of square shape, oval shape, or hexagonal. The number of arrow holes on each tower also varies, and includes two, three, four, and even 24 holes. Of the towers, the most distinctive are the Fairy Maiden Tower (No. 15 East Tower) and Wangjing Tower (No. 16 East Tower). The former is the narrowest tower of this section, while the latter occupies the highest point of the whole scenic area. There is an almost vertical stairway with large steps leading to the Fairy Maiden Tower. Built over the sheer cliff, it makes the tower very hard to reach.

At the end of the hike, transfer to Xizhazi Village.

Overnight in the guest house at Xizhazi.

DAY 4 Jiankou - Mutianyu (BLD)
10km/4-5 hrs hiking; Mutianyu/Huanghuacheng 65km/1.5hrs driving

Today we will spend the day on the Jiankou and Mutianyu section of the Wall. Jiankou section of the Wall, recognized as one of most beautiful parts of the "Wild Wall" near Beijing, and much-loved by photographers. Not visited often by "typical" tourists, this section is really rough and broken. Although we will have to be careful walking on it, the opportunity for pictures in this section is unequalled!.

At first, we will climb 40-50mins up to the wall through a mountain trail. Maybe this part will be a challenge for some of you. When we get on the wall, we will continue hike eastward to Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. On the way, we will stop at the topest point to enjoy a birdview of Jiankou Great Wall.

Have a late lunch in a restaurant located at the bottom of Mutianyu Great Wall. After lunch, take a 1.5hrs drive to Huanghuacheng. Check in a local guesthouse and have a rest.

DAY 5 Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu Great Wall (BL)
8km/4hrs hiking; Xishuiyu/Huanghuacheng 120km/2hrs driving; Xishuiyu/Xizhazi 75km/1.5-2hrs driving

This morning, after check out the hotel, our guide and drive will transfer you to Huanghuacheng section of the Great Wall. The whole section is defined in three segments by water. When summer arrives in full bloom, the entire village below is awashed in a sea of yellow wild flowers ('yellow flower' is 'huanghua' in Chinese). Hence the village name Huanghuacheng (Huanghua City in English), and by turn the Great Wall section acquires its name. This section of the wall is completely unrestored and still remains its plain character since its construction commenced in 1404, two years before the Ming Dynasty moved its capital to Beijing, and continued for 188 years.

There are several up-and-down parts today, however fortunately the mountains here are not that high or steep. First, there is a good trail alongside the Wall, after about half an hour we will get to a watchtower on the cliff. Here is a great place to take photos, one of which must be of the moon-shaped reservoir at the bottom of the mountain. Then, after another half-an-hour hiking, we will reach the highest point in this area, on the pinnacle of which there is a broken watchtower. From this vantage point you will have a nice sunny panoramic view of the whole wide valley, stretching even further toward the west.

From the top point, the wall dives steeply downwards into the valley. After picnic lunch at the Great Wall tower, we'll descend down to the lake and take a short boat tour around the lake, viewing distinguished parts of the wall underwater. Seen from the reservoir dam of Huanghuacheng, built on the former site of Xishuiyuguan Pass in 1974, the stately sunken wall is still visible under the water's smooth surface.

Enjoy a late lunch at local restaurant, after a short rest, drive back to Beijing.

-End of Tour-

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