Best Great Wall Hike: Top 5 Wild Hiking Routes

For travelers who love challenges and adventures, the conventional Great Wall tours to Badaling or Mutianyu may not meet your demands anymore. To see different Great Wall through wild Great Wall hikes will be a more unique travel experience. The wild sections of the Great Wall are more primitive and adventurous. According to the locals, there are 3 most adventurous places in these sections. No. 1 is the single-side wall of Simatai; No. 2 is the Eagle Flies Facing Upward of Jiankou; No. 3 is the Shibadeng of Huanghuacheng. These wild sections are interesting enough but also dangerous and adventurous. If you are interested in these best Great Wall hikes, do read the following guidelines on the 5 wild Great Wall hiking routes before your trip.
Map of Wild Great Wall Hiking Routes
Map of Wild Great Wall Hiking Routes


Jiankou – Mutianyu

As one of the best Great Wall hikes destinations also one of the most dangerous wild Great Wall sections, Jiankou Great Wall was built on the steep ridges with dangerous cliffs. The craggy and steep terrain makes it very popular among hikers. Its shape is like an arrow with the arrow nock and there are 28 towers in total, highlighting the famous view like ‘Upward Flying Eagle’, ‘Beijing Knot’, and ‘Sky Stair’. Many classic photos of the Great Gall are shot there.

 Best Time: April, May, September and October
 Difficulty:  , suitable for advanced hikers; Hikers may need to move away on hands and knees as alpenstock is useless in some steep sections. 
 Recommended route: Shiyao Village/ Xizhazi Village – Nine-Eye Tower – Beijing Knot – Eagle Flies Facing Upward – Jiankou Spot – Zhengbei Tower – Mutianyu
 Distance: 20 km (12 mi)
 Hiking time: 2 days; 10 – 12 hours 
 Elevation: Xizhazi Village 610m (2,001 ft); Nine-Eye Tower 1,140m (3,740 ft); Beijing Knot 960m (3,150 ft)
 How to get there: Take No. 916 Express Bus from Dongzhimen to Huairou North Avenue, then carpool a private car to Shiyao Village or Xizhazi Village.
 Approximate cost: No entrance fee, transportation CNY120 - 150, meals CNY 50 - 80, accommodation CNY150 - 200  
Gubeikou offers a chance for hikers to view more appealing country sceneries, definitely one of the best Great Wall hike routes. The unrestored part of the section is primitive but not as dangerous as Jiankou. One point needs to note is that there is a military zone on the way and you need to detour.  

 Best months: September and October
 Difficulty: , suitable for beginners
 Recommended route: Hexi Village – Gubeikou Great Wall – Detour Military Zone – Jinshanling Great Wall 
 Distance: 13 km (8 mi)
 Hiking time: 5 – 6 hours 
 Elevation: 217 – 466m (712 – 1,529ft)
 How to get there: Take Bus Line 980 (Express) from Dongzhimen to Miyun County and then carpool a private car to Gubeikou Hexi Village. 
 Approximate cost: Entrance fee for Gubeikou CNY25, Entrance fee for Jinshanling CNY65, transportation CNY140 – 180

The Simatai Great Wall consists of two parts, the restored section connecting with Gubei Water Town and the wild section which is surely one of the top Great Wall hiking sections. Especially the single-side wall and Sky Stair are extremely dangerous and steep. Simatai is also the only section open at night. After the adventures hiking, you can take a night tour in Simatai Great Wall & Gubei Water Town scenic area. 

 Best months: May, June, September and October
 Difficulty: , suitable for moderate hikers
 Recommended route: Tangjiazhai – Wangjing Tower – Single-side Wall – Xiannv Tower – Sky Stair – Wangjing Tower - Tangjiazhai
 Distance: 9 km (5.6 mi)
 Hiking time: 7 – 8 hours 
 Elevation: 335 – 986m (1,099ft – 3,235ft)
 How to get there: Take Bus Line 980 (Express) from Dongzhimen to Miyun County and then carpool a private car to Tangjiazhai Village. 
 Approximate cost: No entrance fee of the wild section, entrance fee for the night tour of Simatai Great Wall & Gubei Water Town CNY280 (including cable cars), transportation CNY150 – 180, accommodation CNY500 – 1, 000

Shuiquangou – Huanghuacheng 

It is a less challenging section but still one of the best Great Wall hiking routes for tourists due to the beautiful scenery. Huanghuacheng is a waterside Great Wall, which is very appropriate to hike in summer. In addition, the Shibadeng is risky enough for adventurous hikers.  
 Best months: June, July, August and September
 Difficulty: , suitable for beginners
 Recommended route: Shuiquangou – Xishuiyu – Huanghuacheng
 Distance: 7 km (4.3 mi)
 Hiking time: 4 – 5 hours
 How to get there: Take Tourist Bus Line 2 from Tiananmen East to Changling and then transfer to Bus Line 925 to Shuiquangou.
 Approximate cost: Entrance fee for Xishuiyu CNY16, entrance fee for Huanghuacheng CNY60, transportation CNY50 – 80

Gansu Great Wall Hike: Dunhuang – Lanzhou

This is a long trip along the Great Wall spanning over the Gansu Province. The vast Gobi deserts and spectacular Great Wall ruins offer you stunning views. It is a unique but tough hike to explore past history.
 Best months: May to October
 Difficulty: , suitable for moderate hikers
 Recommended route: Dunhuang CityYumenguan Great WallYangguan Great Wall – Yumen City – Jiayuguan City Wall– Zhangye City– Shandan County – Jinchang City – Yongchang County – Wuwei City – Baiyin City – Jingtai County – Lanzhou City; bus transfers are needed among those cities
 Distance: about 1,150 km (715 mi)
 Hiking time: 6 – 10 days
 Elevation: Yumenguan 1, 400m (4,593ft); Yangguan 1,300m (4,265ft); Jiayuguan 1,700m (5,577ft)
 Approximate cost: Entrance fee for Yumenguan CNY40, Yangguan CNY60, Jiayuguan CNY110; transportation about CNY1, 500; meals CNY80-100 per day; accommodation CNY200-300 per night

How to prepare for a Great Wall hiking tour?

The above hiking routes require great physical strength and some of them are pretty risky. Thus it is very necessary to prepare yourself in both physical condition and hiking experience before starting off. Check out the following items:  
1. Choose an appropriate Great Wall section according to your physical strength and plan out a suitable hiking route.
2. Packs must be LIGHT!Here is a fast list: quick-drying sportswear, socks; mountaineering gears like alpenstock; mobile phone and camera; raincoat, handkerchief; food, water…
3. Avoid hiking alone. Join a group or a team, or hike with friends.
4. To be very careful when hiking in unrestored sections because some of the roads are not steady.
5. Rest and eat as you planned. Adjust schedule timely according to the weather and your physical strength. Avoid excessive exertion and reserve energy for unforeseen circumstances.
6. Wear comfortable trekking shoes and don’t wear new shoes.
 Before departing, check out: Great Wall Hiking Checklist: 15 Things that Expert Hikers Always Take
 If you want to have longer hiking and make a more detailed plan, go on reading:
How to Hike the Full Length of the Great Wall of China? 8,851.8 km!
How Long to Walk the Great Wall of China?
Has anyone walked the Great Wall of China?

 Further Reading: Simatai to Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking
- Last modified on Dec. 21, 2020 -
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