Three-day Great Wall Hiking

Route 3A: Gubeikou-Jinshanling-Simatai-Jiankou-Mutianyu

Go on two of the most popular and picturesque Great Wall Hikes!

Highlights:

  • The Gubeikou-Jinshanling-Simatai is the premier hike for Great Wall enthusiasts, and the Jiankouu-Mutianyu hike is fast becoming one of the most popular with Great Wall enthusiasts
  • On this hike you will get the best of both Great Wall worlds, both majestically restored wall, as well as wild and dramatic unrestored “Wild Wall”, making the hike much more interesting than others
  • All meals are included!
Stuff you should bring with you:
  • Tough hiking boots, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Backpack, and snacks or energy/protein supplements you want to have before lunch
  • Extra cash for driver/guide tips
  • Don’t forget your camera!

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Day-by-day Hiking Itinerary

Beijing-Gubeikou-Jinshanling, L+D, 10km/6miles, 4-5 hours)

Your guide will meet you at your hotel between 7:30-8am, and by private minivan we will head to the Great Wall at Gubeikou to start our hike. Gubeikou Great Wall occupies a strategically important location, which is difficult to access. Situated between Shanhaiguan Pass and Juyongguan Pass, and about 62 miles to Beijing, it is the bastion protecting the northern gateway to the capital. There are 14 beacon towers, 143 watchtowers, 16 strategic pass, three citadels and many other military constructions. Many of them are famous cultural relics, such as the Big Flower Beacon Tower of the Northern Qi Dynasty, Fairy Tower, General Tower, and the dominant Wangjing Tower.

After walking on Gubeikou we will cross over to Jinshanling. Much of the hiking that we will do on Jinshanling today is relatively easy, as much of the wall here is restored and the surface smooth. Jinshanling has five main passes and 67 watchtowers. Every 100 meters (328 feet), there is an enemy tower each of which is about ten meters (33 feet) high. Featuring various structures and having various functions, those watchtowers are either one tiered or two-tiered. Among them, the most celebrated are the Big and Small Jinshan Watchtowers. The Wangjinglou Tower, the General Tower, the Black Tower and the Taochun Tower are also must-sees on the Jinshanling Great Wall. Each tower has its legend. Legend has it that the stone bars used to build the Wangjinglou Tower were carried to the mountaintop by Er Lang Shen, the nephew of the Jade Emperor. The general tower was named to commemorate Wu Guihua, a heroine who sacrificed herself to resist northern invader's invasion in the Ming Dynasty. The Black Tower and the Taochun Tower were christened to commemorate two girls, Heigu and Taochun, who made great contributions to the construction of the Great Wall.

After hiking for a bit we will conclude for the day at around 4 and head to the Jinshan Hostel. Dinner will be at 7. It will be hearty and refreshing, preparing you for the hike ahead.

Jinshanling-Simatai (B+L, 10km/6miles, 4-5 hours)

After waking up at 7:30am, we will have breakfast, and then drive to resume our hike on Jinshanling. While Jinshanling in the west is mostly restored with grand watchtowers, as we head east the wall will start to gradually deteriorate, making the hike progressively more challenging, but also interesting to observe and compare. Soon we will cross over into Simatai.

The Simatai Great Wall is celebrated for its steepness. The main tourist attractions include the Stairway to Heaven, the Fairy Tower, the Heaven Bridge and the Wangjing Tower.

The Simatai Great Wall is divided into eastern and western parts by a lake, named the Mandarin Duck Lake, which is fed by two springs. One is warm, and the other is cold. Even in winter, the surface of the lake will never ice up.

The eastern part of the Great Wall has 15 watchtowers and was constructed on the steep ridge of the mountain. It looks like a winding dragon jumping out of the lake. There tourists can appreciate the Stairway to Heaven, the Fairy Tower, the Heaven Bridge and the Wangjinglou Tower.

In order to reach the Fairy Tower, tourists must climb the 85-degree slope Stairway to Heaven, which is about 100 meters (328 feet) long and allows only one person to pass. Legend has it that the Fairy Tower was transformed from an antelope and that once the Lotus Flower Fairy lived there, hence its name. On the tower, there are some marble arches carved with lotus patterns.

With a height of about 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) above sea level, the Wangjinglou Tower is built on the highest part of the Great Wall. Between the Fairy Tower and the Wangjinglou is the Heaven Bridge, built across a deep abyss. Standing on the Wangjinglou Tower one can see the outline of Beijing City.

Hiking on Simatai, you will have some amazing opportunities to take some photos of true “Wild Wall”. We will have lunch in one of Simatai’s many beacon towers. We will finish our hike at 4pm, driving to our hotel for the evening, where we will have a Chinese dinner. Be sure to get a good rest, because you will need it for tomorrow’s hike!

Jiankou-Mutianyu-Beijing (B+L 10km/6miles 4-5 hours)

The day begins at 7:30 AM, and after breakfast we will drive by private van to the Jiankou section of the Great Wall and start hiking to Mutianyu. The hiking today will cover about 10km/6miles. The Jiankou section is known for its ruggedness and wild beauty, and you will be in awe of the marvelous views it affords. Be sure to see the watchtower known as “Eagle on the peak”, this tower is extremely high and forms the highest reaching point of the Jiankou section. This is the pinnacle of exotic Great Wall scenery.

From Jiankou you will cross over onto Mutianyu, a section of the wall that has been largely restored. Although it has gotten a face-lift, it avoids the army of tourists that plague Badaling. Mutianyu offers some breathtaking views of the valley and wall below, and if you look to your right you’ll see a large sign engraved in the side of the mountain encouraging you to “Cherish the teaching of Chairman Mao”.

You can hike down to the parking lot or take a toboggan (highly recommended, and lots of fun!) down to meet our driver. We will then have a lunch at a local restaurant. We will then drive back to Beijing and drop you off at your hotel. Then you will need to upload all the fantastic pictures you recorded on your Great Wall trek!