Top 4 Great Wall Hiking Routes

Hiking the Great Wall can be one of the most unforgettable experiences on a China tour. It allows you to walk through over 2,000 years of history while enjoying breathtaking landscapes. Here, we listed of the best Great Wall hiking routes, each with its own charm and level of difficulty. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there's a perfect route for you.

Great Wall Hiking Routes MapMap of Our Most Recommended Great Wall Hiking Routes

Mutianyu Great WallMutianyu Great Wall

Mutianyu is one of the most well-preserved sections of the Great Wall and is known for its picturesque scenery. It is easy to get from downtown Beijing with a 1.5-hour drive. This section offers amenities such as a cable car, chair lift, and toboggan ride for a fun descent. If you want to take a light hike, especially with kids or seniors, this section is the best choice.

  • Duration: 3-4 hours.
  • Difficulty Level: Easy.
  • Scenery: Dense forests, watchtowers, and restored walls.
  • Pros: Less crowded, beautiful scenery, family-friendly.
  • Cons: As this section is relatively stable and well restored, it may feel less authentic to hard-core hikers.

Unrestored Part of the Jinshanling Great WallUnrestored Part of the Jinshanling Great Wall

For hiking beginners who want to experience a mix of history and natural landscapes, it is highly recommended to challenge the Gubeikou & Jinshanling Great Wall Trail.

The start point of this trail can be reached in about 2.5 hours by car from downtown Beijing. The Gubeikou Great Wall is divided into two parts: the Wohushan Section and the Panlongshan Section. For beginners, we would recommend hiking from Panlongshan to Jinshanling (11 kilometers, 4-5 hours of walking), which is easier to hike and offers more beautiful scenery. You will encounter the General Tower and the 24-Eye Tower along the way.

Jinshanling offers you a chance to see both the unrestored and restored faces of the Great Wall. It is said to be the most beautiful section of the Great Wall, where you can take in a stunning panoramic view. And if you feel tired after reaching this section, you can also take the cable car down the mountain.

  • Duration: 6-7 hours.
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate.
  • Scenery: Rolling hills, historic watchtowers, and panoramic vistas.
  • Pros: Quiet and peaceful, rich history, varied landscapes.
  • Cons: A bit far from downtown Beijing, longer hike requiring good stamina.

Scenery of Jinshanling Great WallScenery of Jinshanling Great Wall

This route covers the Jinshanling Great Wall and the Simatai Great Wall. It once was connected, but now it is separated due to safety concerns. Both of these two sections of the Great Wall are "natural" and renowned for breathtaking views. So, if you are looking for an intermediate hiking experience on the Great Wall or some fantastic photography opportunities, you can spend 2 days exploring them.

You can take a hike to Jinshanling on the first day. It sits about 160 kilometers from the center of Beijing and can be reached in about 2.5 hours by car. As we mentioned before, Jinshanling combines the restored and unrestored parts; you can choose 1.5- to 4-hour routes to hike as you like:

  • Route 1 (3 km, 1.5 hours): Zhuanduokou Pass - General Tower - Shalingkou Pass.
  • Route 2 (4 km, 2 hours): Zhuanduokou Pass - General Tower - Shalingkou Pass - Small Jinshan Tower, then take a cable car down.
  • Route 3 (5 km, 3 hours): Zhuanduokou Pass - General Tower - Shalingkou Pass - Small - Big Jinshan Towers - Houchuankou Pass - Jinshan Horse Track.
  • Route 4 (7 km, 4 hours): Shalingkou Pass - Small and Big Jinshan Towers - Houchuankou Pass - Eastern Five-window Tower - Kylin Screen Wall.

Then, you can take a half-hour drive to Gubei Water Town for overnight, which sits at the foot of Simatai Great Wall. On the second day, you can hike the East Simatai (West Simatai is closed to tourists), which takes about 2 hours.

Besides, Simatai also offers a night-walk experience. If you are interested, you can explore Gubei Water Town during the day and then explore Simatai at night. As the path is well-surfaced with light, you don't need to worry about your safety, and the dazzling views of the nighttime countryside will be the best payoff for your efforts.

  • Duration: 2 days.
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate.
  • Scenery: Steep climbs, well-preserved watchtowers, and a stunning nightview.
  • Pros: Spectacular views, fewer tourists, and combining restored and wild sections.
  • Cons: Requires more planning, time, and physical fitness.

On the Way From Jiankou to MutianyuOn the Way From Jiankou to Mutianyu

Mutianyu is one of the easiest Great Wall hiking routes, but if you start from Jiankou Great Wall, it will become the most challenging one. If you are looking for some thrilling adventure, this trail is right for you.

Jiankou is a totally wild Great Wall, snaking along the steep ranges. Take a 1.5-hour drive to Xizhazicun Village, then via Zhengbeilou Tower to Mutianyu. You will hike 7 kilometers through the ruined walls and towers, which may take about 5 to 6 hours.

It is not recommended to hike this trail by yourself, even if you're an experienced hiker, as the route is undeveloped with many steep slopes, and you may lose your way. If you want to have a seamless hiking experience here, we can arrange for a seasoned guide to show you the way and rich history of the Great Wall.

  • Duration: 5-6 hours.
  • Difficulty Level: Advanced.
  • Scenery: Wild, ruined walls, steep mountains and forests.
  • Pros: Challenging hike, stunning and varied scenery, combining wild and restored sections.
  • Cons: Requires good physical condition and hiking skills.

Each route presents its own unique set of challenges and rewards, catering to different levels of hikers. However, it always needs a well-thought-out plan. So contact us here or email us at trip@odynovotours.com, and our seasoned travel expert will handle everything for you. All you need to do is tell us what you want, lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and get ready to take the Great Wall hike!

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