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Jiankou Great Wall (Arrow Nock)

Jiankou Great Wall

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'Jiankou', is translated as 'arrow nock' in English, because the shape of the mountain is like an arrow, with the collapsed ridge opening as its arrow nock. Due to its unique style, steep mountains and beautiful scenery, this section has become a photographic hotspot. If you look carefully at the recent published Great Wall photographic works, you will quickly find that most of the pictures are taken from this section. This section is also one of the most dangerous sections after being exposed to winds and rains for hundreds of years, and due to lack of renovation, some parts have already collapsed.

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:

 Nine-Eye Tower

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. 

 Beijing Knot

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.

Beijing Jiankou Great Wall
Steep Arrow Nock Great Wall

 Sky Stair

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.

 Jiankou Spot

It is the lowest point of this section, looking like the mouth of the mountain creek among the rolling mountains.

 Zhengbei Tower

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

Jiankou Great Wall Map
Jiankou Map

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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.

 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.

 Recommended One-Day Hiking Route:

Section 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.

 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.


 Hiking Tips

 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.

Jiankou Zhao
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

To climb up the mountains to reach the Great Wall, you should get to the Xizhazi Village or Wofo Mountain Villa at first.

Bus routes to the two destinations are same initially. You should get to Dongzhimen Station by subway line 2 or line 13, and then take bus 936 at Dongzhimen Wai Station. Get off at Yujiayuan Station, and then follow different paths to the two places.

To Xizhazi Village:
Transfer to bus H25 at Yujiayuan to Xizhazi Station.

To Wofo Mountain Villa:
Transfer to bus H36 at Yujiayuan to Xinying Station. Walk north to the mountain villa.

Bus Price Operating Time
No.936 CNY 6 From Dongzhimen Wai: 6:40 – 17:10
From Yujiayuan: 4:35 – 17:00
No. H25 CNY 4 From Yujiayuan: 11:30, 16:30
From Xizhazi: 6:00, 13:15
No. H36 CNY 3 From Yujiayuan: 6:20, 11:30, 17:40
From Xinying: 7:05, 12:15, 18:30

 If you miss the bus H25 or H36, you can take a taxi to get to the destination.
Taxi Fare (reference only):
From Yujiayuan to Xizhazi Village: CNY 120
From Yujiayuan to Wofo Mountain Villa: CNY 65


 Related Tour: Arrow Nock Hiking