Jiankou Great Wall (Arrow Nock)
Jiankou Great Wall is one of the most dangerous and wild Great Wall sections. It is also the most photographed section due to its precipitous mountains, unique construction style, and attractive scenery; many of the Great Wall photos published recently are taken here. “Jiankou” means “arrow nock”, because the shape of the mountain is like an arrow, with the collapsed ridge opening as its arrow nock.
Built from the local material, dolomite, the large pieces of white rock make it striking to the eye at a distance. It zigzags 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Ox Horn Edge Wall to the Nine-Eye Tower via the Beijing Knot, joining Mutianyu in the east and Huanghuacheng in the west. There are many beautiful spots along the way, with the most famous ones as follows:
It is at the northernmost point of this section. This tower with three storeys was an important command post during the ancient wars. There are nine holes on each side of the wall which look like nine eyes, hence its name. If the weather is fine, you can overlook the city of Beijing from the tower, so it is also named Wangjing (Overlooking Beijing) Tower.
It is the meeting point of three sections of the Great Wall coming from different directions. The west route leads to Huanghuacheng, a section built by a clear lake. You will pass another section Xiangshuihu in the midway, which is not so famous but also very beautiful. Walking north, you will get to the Nine-Eye Tower, the north end of Jiankou section. You can hike to Mutianyu following the south path.
Beijing Knot is a great sightseeing point, with lush mountains around it. Getting there at sunrise or sunset, you may encounter the breath-taking sight of a wide sea of cloud.
Eagle Flies Facing Upward
It is one of the most dangerous segments of the Great Wall. The place got its name because the watchtower and the lofty peaks there form a shape of an eagle. The posture of this 'eagle' is a vivid example to tell visitors that stairs there are so steep that even eagles have to fly facing upward to reach the top.
Sky Stair is a precipitous stair, whose angle of elevation is 70 to 80 degrees, at the east slope of the Eagle Flies Facing Upward. Some parts of it are so narrow that only one person can get through at a time.
It is the lowest point of this section, looking like the mouth of the mountain creek among the rolling mountains.
It is the highest point of this section, built on the top of steep cliffs. It is also the largest and the most complete watchtower along this section. The gentler path on the east leads to the Ox Horn Edge Wall, the east end of this section.
How to Tour Jiankou Great Wall
1. This section can be roughly divided into three parts: north part (Nine-Eye Tower to Beijing Knot), middle part (Beijing Knot to Jiankou Spot), and south part (Jiankou Spot to Ox Horn Edge Wall). Generally, you need to spend about one day climbing only one part. If you plan a two-day trip, you can finish two parts, even the whole section.
2. The middle part is the essence of this section, including Beijing Knot, Eagle Flies Facing Upward, and Sky Stair. However, the almost vertical stairs of Sky Stair make it the most difficult part to conquer.
3. The other popular part is the south part. You can take great photos from there. The segment from Jiankou Spot to Zhengbei Tower is not easy to climb, while the rest of it is quite flat. Walking eastwards along the path, you can get to Mutianyu section.
4. The north part is suitable for visitors who are not good at sports. Besides the remnants, there are peach trees on the two sides of the wall. In spring (April and May), the blooming blossoms will refresh you with its sweet smell.
5. There are Xizhazi Village and Wofo Mountain Villa at the foot of this section, which are regarded as the starting point of the Jiankou hiking. There are footpaths from the two places, leading to the major spots of this section. You need to spend 1–2 hours climbing up the mountain through a forest to get to the Great Wall.
6. Recommended One-Day Hiking Route:
|Nine-Eye Tower – Beijing Knot||Get to either end from the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village, and go downhill at the other spot back to the Xizhazi Village.|
|Beijing Knot – Jiankou Spot||Get to the Beijing Knot from the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village and then hike eastwards to the Jiankou Spot. Go downhill following the south path to the Wofo Mountain Villa, or following the north path to the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village.|
|Get to the Jiankou Spot from the Wofo Mountain Villa on the south, or the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village on the north, and then hike westwards to the Beijing Knot. Go downhill to the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village.|
|Jiankou Spot – Ox Horn Edge Wall||Get to the Jiankou Spot from the Wofo Mountain Villa on the south, or the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village on the north, and hike eastwards to the Ox Horn Edge Wall. Go downhill to the second team of the Xizhazi Village. Or, you can also get down in the midway at the Zhengbei Tower to the Nanjili Village.|
|Get to the Ox Horn Edge Wall from the second team of the Xizhazi Village, and then hike westwards to the Jiankou Spot. Go downhill following the south path to the Wofo Mountain Villa, or following the north path to the fifth team of the Xizhazi Village.|
7. Those who are very energetic can challenge themselves by hiking the whole route in two days. If there is still time and energy left, you can hike to Mutianyu following the path to the east. It would take about 1.5 hours to get there from the Zhengdong Tower.
The terrain at Beijing Knot is relatively flat. If you plan a two-day trip and decide to spend the night on the wall, Beijing Knot is the best site to set the tent.
|Zhao's Hostel in Xizhazi Village|
The Xizhazi Village on the north of the Great Wall and Wofo Mountain Villa on the south provide accommodation, so do other villages at the mountain foot. You can also stay overnight there.
Climbing this section needs a lot of energy. But there is no booth up there. You need to take some snacks and bottled water. Before or after hiking, you can go to Xizhazi Village or the Wofo Mountain Villa to treat yourself with some local dishes.
You'd better take mountaineering equipments, like hiking boots, alpenstock, gloves, and climbing rope. Sometimes you need to make a detour in segments which are badly damaged.
Seniors and children are not recommended to climb this section.
As a famous section of Wild Great Wall, it is free to hike. But sometimes, local villagers will set roadblocks and charge you for at least CNY 10 as a toll.
Occasionally, there are villagers providing ladders to help you climb the wall. You need to pay at least CNY 5 for using the ladder.
How to Get to Jiankou from Downtown Beijing
By Bus: 916 Express
Take bus line 916 Express from Dongzhimen Hub, near Dongzhimen Subway Station and get off at Huairou North Avenue (Huairou Beidajie). From there, change to bus line h36 to Tianxianyu and then walk to the entrance of Jiankou Great Wall.
From Qianmen to Xizhazi Village, the fare is CNY 350 to 370.