Spend four days hiking more remote sections of the Great Wall of China. Hike along the Gubeikou, Jinshanling, Jiankou, and Huanghuacheng sections on this difficult yet rewarding China trek. Visit the Ming Tombs to top off your journey. This tour is a great extension for a China trip including Beijing or adventurers looking for a new way to experience the Great Wall.
Meet your guide this morning in your Beijing hotel lobby shortly after breakfast and drive 2.5 hours to Gubeikou, the starting point of today's trek. This section of the wall was originally built in 1378 to assist in China's defense of the Mongols from the North. Set amidst the Panlon (Hidden Dragon) and Woho (Crouching Tiger) Mountains, follow past Gubeikou's numerous watch towers and garrisons. Halfway through, wind your way into a valley through several farms to bypass a military area, before rejoining the wall at the Jinshanling section. Named after the Jinshan Mountains it straddles, this section holds nearly 70 watchtowers built in different architectural styles. Look carefully as you hike and you may spot old poems and stories etched into the brick. The 5-6 hour trek concludes with your arrival and descent at Jinshanling's main gate and a short walk to the nearby hotel. This basic yet comfortable hotel offers the closest location to the wall for hikers.
Hiking Distance: 10-13 km (6 - 8.5 miles). Moderate to difficult with uphill & downhill trails.
Day 2: Jinshanling Section to Simatai
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Today, check out of your hotel and meet up at the gate to continue trekking on the wall where you left off the previous day. The Jinshanling section is considered by many scholars to be the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall and most of its original features remain intact. The first two hours of your 4-5 hour trek ascends along the Great Wall with impressive scenery on either side. Arrive to Dongkou at the eastern end of the Jinshanling Great Wall, and take a path downhill towards Simatai, a section of the wall that was blocked off from the Jinshanling section. Arrive to your vehicle in the parking lot and drive 1.5-2 hours to your hotel this evening in Huairou County.
Hiking Distance: 8-10km (4-6 miles). Moderate to difficult with steep uphill and downhill trails.
Day 3: Jiankou to Mutianyu
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Today drive about 1.5 hours to Xizhazi Village. From here, hike about two hours on a mountain trail to reach the Jiankou Great Wall through the forest. The trail starts out flat, and then gradually becomes steeper and more difficult to hike. Arrive to Zhenbeilou Tower at the top, where the views are wide open and stunning. You can spot villages nestled in valleys below and see the Great Wall winding from east to west on top of the mountain. From this tower, the trail is largely flat along the Great Wall with trees and shrubs and other overgrown plants. Hike east for another two hours until you arrive to the well renovated section Mutianyu. Explore Mutianyu for a bit and then hike down the steps to the cable car station. You may also opt to try the toboggan run down the mountain. Drive a half hour back to the hotel this evening.
Hiking Distance: 8-10 km (4-6 miles). Difficult with steep uphill and downhill climbs.
Day 4: Huanghuacheng & Ming Tombs
Today drive 1.5 hours to the Huanghuacheng Great Wall, the last section for our trek. This wall is located only 70 km outside of Beijing's downtown. It is well known too for its propensity to have low altitude sections covered by the reservoir waters created in the valley where it lies. Here hike along the Great Wall and enjoy mountain scenery touching the water below.
After lunch, drive to the nearby Ming Tombs located in Changping District. This imperial cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers an area of 120 square km and holds 13 buried Ming Dynasty emperors. These are the best preserved imperial tombs.
Due to restricted time, you visit the Changling tomb, the final resting place for the third emperor, Zhu Di. See the sculptures and other artifacts inside. Drive this evening two hours back to Beijing and on to your next destination.
Hiking Distance: 4-5 km (2-3 miles). Difficult with some steep uphill and downhill.
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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.