• The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling
  • The Great Wall of China near Gubeikou
  • The Great Wall of China at Huangyaguan
  • Hikers on the Great Wall of China near Jinshanling
  • The Great Wall of China at Jiankou

Hiking the Great Wall

of China

Experience the finest, less trammeled sections of this world monument on foot. From Laolongtou where the wall plunges into the Bohai Sea to the wilder wall at Dongjiakou to the magnificent stretches of the Jinshanling and Wohu Shan walls this journey is designed with the hiker in mind!

Day 1
Overnight in Beijing
Enjoy a guided tour of the principal monuments of Beijing including Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.

Hall of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City, Beijing.

Day 2
Overnight in Qinhuangdao
Travel east from Beijing to the Bohai Sea at the city of Qinhuangdao. Here, the Great Wall of China plunges into the sea at Laolongtou (“Old Dragon’s Head”). Walk along the trace of the wall toward the walled fortress of Shanhaiguan (“First Pass Under Heaven”) where we’ll visit the Great Wall museum. Travel by vehicle back to your hotel near the Bohai Sea.

The Great Wall enters the Bohai Sea at Laolongtou.

Day 3
Overnight in Qinhuangdao
Hike along the Great Wall as it makes its first ascent into the mountains at Jiao Shan (“Horn Mountain”). Enjoy views over the fortress of Shanhaiguan and out to the Bohai Sea. If you desire a full, challenging day of hiking, continue from the peak of Jiao Shan following the wall on a narrow mountain path to reach the pass of Sandaoguan. Return by vehicle to Qinhuangdao for the evening.

Following the Jiao Shan Great Wall to Sandaoguan.

Day 4
Overnight in Qinhuangdao
Travel by vehicle north from Qinhuangdao to the small village of Dongjiakou where you can explore the remains of an old fortress as well as the Cihou Tower, an unusual roofless watchtower with two dozen observation portals. The villagers of Dongjiakou are descendants of the builders of this section of the wall and today work to protect it. Hike along the Dongjiakou wall to Chengzhiyu village. The Dongjiakou Great Wall (also known as the Jizhen Wall), punctuated by forty-five towers and three fortresses, winds for five miles through a landscape of gentle, forest-cloaked mountains. Return to Qinhuangdao for the evening.

Dongjiakou section of the Great Wall.

Day 5
Overnight in Huangyaguan
This morning, travel by vehicle to the Eastern Qing Tombs (Qing Dongling), perhaps more splendid than the more famous Ming Tombs. There are fifteen tombs at the site in which are buried five emperors and fifteen empresses including the first Qing Emperor and the Dowager Empress Cixi. Following the visit, a half hour journey by vehicle brings you to the Huangyaguan (“Yellow Crag Pass”). On either side of the pass, the Great Wall winds through the dramatic landscape of the Yan Mountains. Spend the afternoon exploring Tapingzhai section of the wall to the east of the pass or wander through the labyrinth of Huangyaguan fortress designed to confound would be attackers.

Day 6
Overnight in Jinshanling
Ascend the steps of the “Heaven’s Ladder” to gain a ridgetop above Huangyaguan. Follow the trace of the Great Wall as it undulates across forest-cloaked mountains before gradually descending to the village of Qianganjian. From here, a vehicle will transport you north to the Jinshanling Great Wall which for hikers may be the most magnificent part of the Great Wall. Overnight in a courtyard-style hotel in Jinshanling village.

Looking through the crenellations on the Huangyaguan Great Wall.

Day 7
Overnight in Jinshanling
This morning, hike along the Great Wall from Jinshanling eastward to the Wuyan tower near the Simatai section of the wall. Descend to Jinshanling for lunch. In the afternoon, travel by vehicle to the Wohu Shan (“Crouching Tiger Mountain”) section of the Great Wall where you’ll enjoy another hike along this picturesque section of wall. Here, the Great Wall, punctuated by several watchtowers, snakes its way along the crest of the mountains. The Wohu Shan Great Wall is one of the less-frequented sections of the wall and allows you an encounter with the “wild Wall.” After the hike at Wohu Shan, return by vehicle to Jinshanling village where you’ll spend a second evening at the foot of the Great Wall.

The Great Wall near Jinshanling.

Day 8
Overnight in Nali
Hike westward today along the magnificent stretch of the Jinshanling Great Wall bound for Gubeikou. The Great Wall undulates through hilly terrain and views of the Wohu Shan (mountains) dominate the view ahead of you. For a portion of the hike, you’ll leave the wall itself to follow country paths through a rural landscape of fields and farms. Regaining the wall, you’ll then follow it to the watchtower known as the General Tower near the town of Gubeikou where the day’s hiking concludes. Travel by vehicle to your overnight accommodations at a small hotel in Nali, a popular weekend mountain retreat for Beijingers.

The Great Wall near Gubeikou.

Day 9
Overnight in Beijing
From Nali, travel by vehicle to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall dominated by the three-towered fortification of Zhengguantai. Hike along the length of the restored section of this wall before descending a trail into a valley where the hike ends. A more challenging option takes you from the village of Xihazi to a lofty vantage point where you can enjoy a view of the unreconstructed and crumbling Jiankou Great Wall as it traverses perhaps the most dramatic and precipitous mountain terrain in the course of the wall. After enjoying the view, hike along the wall to reach Mutianyu. Return to Beijing in the afternoon. Time permitting, we’ll stop to admire some of the architectural gems of 2008 Summer Olympics including the “Water Cube” and the “Bird’s Nest.” Enjoy a dinner featuring Beijing imperial cuisine to celebrate the conclusion of your Great Wall adventure!

The Jiankou Great Wall.

Photos on this page are by John Osaki (© All Rights Reserved) except as otherwise credited.

Over the years, Mountain Hiking Holidays has developed and operated trips to a variety of destinations including this one, but not all trips are offered every year. If you are interested in joining a scheduled departure of this trip in the future, please send us an email and let us know. Click to send us an email.

We can organize and operate this trip as a private group departure with a minimum group size of 10 persons. Start organizing your private Great Wall hiking adventure here.

Meeting point is Beijing, China. Accommodations in hotels with private rooms and bathing facilities. Some evenings are spent in traditional “courtyard” hotels where accommodations and food service are quite basic. October is our favorite time for this trip when Gobi Desert dust storms are less likely and visibility generally better.

Mountain Hiking Holidays

Trips for the adventurous hiker since 1996

PO Box 86250, Portland, OR 97286-0250, USA

503-715-0844 / Toll-free 1-800-313-0345 or 1-888-743-0723


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