Five-day Great Wall Trekking

ROUTE 5B: East Qing Tombs-Huangyaguan-Simatai-Jinshanling-Gubeikou-Huanghuacheng-Xisuiyu-Jiankou-Mutianyu Great Wall Sections

An odyssey through the varied and splendorous sights of the eastern Great Wall!

Highlights:

  • A hike on Huangyaguan, which is designed to encapsulate the entire Great Wall of China, meaning you can view the entire wall in just under a day, and a chance to visit the East Qing Tombs, the final resting place of Chinas last ruling dynasty and an often overlooked treat
  • While the Gubeikou-Jinshanling-Simatai is the most popular Great Wall hike, we will change it up a little by hiking it in the opposite direction, giving a new spin on this classic hike
  • The Jiankou-Mutianyu hike is one of the most striking and beautiful, with high ruined watchtowers and wonderful views of the misty mountains
  • This 5 day trip combines both Wild Wall with its rugged ruins, and classically restored wall
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
  • Dont forget your camera!

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

Day-by-day Hiking Itinerary

Beijing-East Qing Tombs-Huangyaguan (L+D, 1.5 hours)

After meeting your guide at your hotel between 7:30-8am, we will make the drive to the East Qing Tombs. The Eastern Qing Tombs, which is among the finest, best-preserved and largest of the extant tomb complexes in China. Along the south side of Changrui Mountain, the tombs of five emperors, four empresses, five imperial concubines, and one princess are arrayed based on the traditional concept of placing the most senior and most distinguished in the center.

Of all the tombs, Xiaoling is the biggest and most elaborate, standing as the focal point of the entire structure. The grandeur of this tomb may be attributed to its having been the first sepulcher constructed for a member of the royal family of the Qing Dynasty, so the builders hoped to set the tone for a prosperous future. Crossing through the Great Red Gate, you can see buildings of different sizes, all with roofs of yellow glazed tile, connected by the brick paths or 'sacred ways' that converge in the area of Xiaoling.

An example of the most exquisite architecture of the Eastern Qing Tombs is Dingdongling, the tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi. Although she handled affairs of state for more than 45 years, she never ascended the throne. (The only female ruler in Chinese history was Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Elaborate and highly refined decorations and carvings inside Dingdongling make it unique among the tombs of the Qing Dynasty. The main material used in the tomb, which took six years to build, was gold, the symbol of royal family.

Shortly after lunch we will drive to a small village, where we will start our afternoon hike on the Great Wall on Huangyaguan. It is designed as a miniature of the entire Great Wall of China, thereby allowing you get an understanding of the entire wall in a fraction of the time. The entire section is built on an abrupt mountain ridge. Being endowed with both natural beauty and cultural interest, it has become famous as a natural beauty spot and a summer resort.

After about an hours walk we will reach a peak overlooking the valley below. Form the peak we can also see the Huangyaguan Fortress, which was restored in 1984. From this vantage point, we will be able to see its Baguan pattern, a specially designed labyrinth designed to confuse and entrap the enemy. We will then walk down to the fortress for a fascinating and informative visit inside.

For that evening we will stay in a traditional courtyard hotel built on the site of the fortress.

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

After breakfast in the hotel at around7:30, we will drive to Simatai to start our hike there. This is the classic Great Wall hike that mostly wall enthusiasts have done. Unlike most hikers, we will take this popular route in the opposite direction. At first we will encounter deteriorated “Wild Wall” and the hiking will be a little steep. But as we make our way west the wall will gradually turn into a more restored state, and the hiking will get progressively easier. The hike today allows you to compare the differences between the two wall types, and this is both highly enjoyable and informative..

After reaching Jinshanling we will drive to a 3 star hotel at the foot of the wall there to stay overnight. We will have dinner around 7 either at the hotel or a local restaurant.

Jinshanling-Gubeikou-Huanghuacheng (B+L+D, 10km/6miles. 4-5 hours)

We will be continuing our hike westward from Jinshanling until we reach the General Tower at Gubeikou. Gubeikou is mostly Wild Wall so the hiking will be tougher than the beginning of our hike. We will have lunch on the wall, and the countryside in front of us will provide the perfect backdrop. Then we will transfer to a small village near the foot of the Huanghuacheng Great Wall. We will spend the night and have dinner with a local family. This will be a pleasant evening of conversation, food and fellowship. After dinner we can chat with the local villagers, and this is about as authentic a Chinese experience as you could get!

Huanghuacheng-Xisuiyu (B+L+D, 8km/5miles, 4 hours)

We will wake up at 7:30AM with breakfast at the hotel. We will then continue our trek, this time from Huanhuacheng to Xishuiyu. Huanghuacheng, like Jiankou, which we will hike tomorrow, is fast becoming popular with hikers and tourists who are looking for something a little different in their Great Wall experience. The wall here is a combination of both restored and unrestored areas, giving your hike a little more variety and adventure. When you reach the middle of the wall you will be able to see that the countryside is swathed in yellow, as masses of wild flowers come into bloom. We will then cross over onto the Xishuiyu section.

Today’s hike is not very long, but quite special-part of the wall is under water! In 1974 China built the Xishuiyu Reservoir, and when the water level rose, some low-lying sections of the wall were submerged under water. Seen from the dam of the reservoir, this stately sunken wall is still visible under the water’s smooth and glimmering surface.

After our hike today, we will drive to a local village where we will again spend the night with a local farmer and his family. They will prepare for us a sumptuous provincial-style Chinese dinner, and it is sure to replenish and refresh you for the last leg of our 5-day hike.

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

Our hiking will end on a high note as we will be visiting hikers’ most favorite section of the Great Wall. . In order to hike on Jiankou, first we have to climb up a path for about 60 minutes to reach it. Our hike will today will take about 4 hours and will cover 10km/ 6 miles. The Jiankou section is known for its ruggedness and wild beauty, and you will be in awe of the marvelous views it affords. As soon as we reach Jiankou we will see a deserted watchtower that gives you a panoramic view of the entire valley. In the early morning the view is priceless with its morning fog. This section of the wall is not well known by tourists, although if you see a picture of the Great Wall from exotic traveling magazines, chances are it is from Jiankou. This is the pinnacle of exotic Great Wall scenery.

This part of the wall is often empty, so you will have some peace and serenity on your hike today. Another highlight of Jiankou is the enemy observation tower known as, "Ying Fei Dao Yang", so named because this watchtower was erected on the highest peak in the area, and eagles and hawks often perch on it. Although the majestic wall is slowly being conquered by small trees and brambles, but the view from the top is still stunning!

From Jiankou we 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 teachings of Chairman Mao”. Mutianyu has also become popular for visiting foreign leaders and celebrities (former U.S. President Clinton visited Mutianyu on one of his trips to China).

You can hike down to the parking lot, take a cable car, or take a toboggan ride (highly recommended, and lots of fun!) down to meet our driver. We will then have BBQ fish for lunch at a local restaurant.

When we drive back to Beijing, you will be rewarded for all the sweat and blood you put into this hike by having a Peking Duck dinner, the signature dish of Beijing. Afterwards, we will drop you off at your hotel in Beijing.