How Long to Walk the Great Wall of China

For common sightseeing: 1 or 2 days is enough;
For professional hikers: 3-5 months for the main line; 17 months at least to finish the full length.
 

How long does it take to walk the Great Wall of China?

A common travel on the Great Wall only involves visiting a short section, so the fastest time to walk the Great Wall of China is not more than one day. The most popular Badaling Great Wall and Mutianyu Great Wall only require a walk of two or three hours for each. Other sections around Beijing, such as the Jinshanling and Simatai, require four or five hours for a simple tour. On the whole, an ordinary traveler can make a Great Wall trip within one day and does not need to stay overnight on the Great Wall. 
 

How many steps to climb the Great Wall of China?

 Badaling: 
Walking length: 3.74 kilometers (2.3 miles). 
Rise in altitude: about 340 meters (1,115 feet). 
Time required for a climb: 2 – 3 hours.

 Mutianyu:
Stairs: more than 600. 
Walking length: 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles). 
Rise in altitude: about 750 meters (2,461 feet). 
Time required for a climb: 2 - 3 hours.

 Jinshanling: 
Stairs: more than 1,000. 
Walking length: 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles). 
Rise in altitude: 300 meters (984 feet). 
Time required for a climb: 3 - 4 hours.

 Simatai: 
Walking length: 5.4 kilometers (3.4 miles). 
Rise in altitude: 660 meters (2,165 feet). 
Time required for a climb: 3 - 4 hours.
 

How long would it take to walk the entire length of the Great Wall of China?

Some people ask about how many days to walk the Great Wall. Seriously, it takes a long time – at least 17 months for the full length. The existing Ming Dynasty Great Wall winds its staggering way from Jiayuguan to Hushan Great Wall on Tiger Mountain, spanning 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi). In the level and easy parts, one can walk 30 to 40 km a day. However, as the Great Wall follows the mountain ridge with steep terrain and sharp change in altitude, the pace is slower in most of the time. Therefore, the average daily speed may reach only about 20km assuming that one spends 8 to 10 hours hiking the Great Wall per day. At this speed, a trek on the main line of the Great Wall takes 3 to 5 months at least.

If you want to walk the entire Ming Dynasty Great Wall, 442 days are required theoretically. Plus, if you take a one-day break each week, you will need 17 months to finish the hike. What’s more, in the real practice, it may take longer because you are going to meet various unknown factors which may disturb your plan.

Read more: How to Hike the Full Length of the Great Wall of China? 8,851.8 km!
 

Can you walk the entire Great Wall of China?

Based on the above math, you can see how difficult is walking the Great Wall of China. An entire Great Wall hike takes one and half a year, a great challenge to both physical strength and willpower. Ordinary people can hardly make the trip. Common travelers often choose some most renowned sections and take a one- or two-day tour. Some adventurous walkers would take a week-long hike to the Great Wall.

Of course, there are some professional hikers who have made the amazing feat of hiking the Ming Dynasty Great Wall from Jiayuguan to Shanhaiguan. If you have questioned yourself like can I walk the Great Wall of China, you should first do a self-inspection with the following 6 essential points:

1. How is your physical strength? Do you often go to the gym and take regular exercise? Considering that the Great Wall trek is a challenge to physical strength and willpower, you must ensure that you are strong enough in body and mind to keep on the walk.

2. Do you have experience in long trek? The journey from Shanhaiguan to Jiayuguan is around 6,000 to 8,000 km (3,700 to 5,000 mi). If you are a not experienced hiker, perhaps you are not able to cope with various difficulties along the way, especially when you are far away from the urban area.

3. Do you have any partner to travel together? It’s not advised to travel alone for safety concerns. If possible, you had better have an emergency back-up team to support you. 

4. How much time do you have? Even if you choose the shortest route, three to five months are needed if all goes well. It may take two years or longer if you want to take an entire trip to every branch line. Be sure that you have enough time and nothing can interrupt your trek.

5. Do you have enough money? To finish the shortest trek that requires 3 to 5 months, you need at least CNY 20,000 to 30,000 for daily expense, not mentioning the costs for seeing the doctor, rescuing, and maintenance of hiking and photographic equipment. For the 2-year Great Wall trek, you need to prepare at least CNY 150,000 for basic life needs.

6. Are you a neat freak? Can you endure hardships? The living conditions along the way are always not satisfying and you often need to camp in the field. In the eastern section where the conditions are better, you can stay overnight in a hotel room for cleaning and replenishment every one or two weeks. However, in the less-developed bleak western sections, it’s a real luxury to take a shower. Sometimes, you can’t take a shower in a month!

The above points are just some essential problems you should pay attention to. If you still think you can go on the trip, please read Great Wall Hiking Checklist.
 

The answer is YES! William Edgar Geil, an American traveler, is the first person who has ever walked the entire Great Wall. In 1908, he and his team spent five months walking from eastern end Shanhaiguan to western end Jiayuguan, leaving a large number of precious photos and documentary records. In 1985, Dong Yaohui, an electrical engineer also completed the hike from Shanhaiguan to Jiayuguan in 508 days with his two partners. Afterward, Dong became a leader for the Great Wall protection projects.

 Read more stories about Great Wall Hiking:
 William Edgar Geil - The First One Hiked the Entire Great Wall of China: He took 3 months and finished in 1908.
 Dong Yaohui Hiked the Entire Great Wall: He took 508 days and completed on September 24, 1985
 Liu Yutian – the First Person Hiked the Great Wall Alone: He took 2 years and finished on April 5, 1986.
 William Lindsay - Working on Great Wall Protection after Trekking: He took 8 months to hike in 1987.
 Sally - the Only Woman Walked the Entire Great Wall of China Alone: She took half a year to hike in 1990.
 Ren Erlin & Ren Zigeng – Chinese Father and Son Trekked the Great Wall: They took 89 days and finished the hiking in 2003.
 Jamie Bradish & Rob England - a US Pair Took 10 Months to Walk the Great Wall: They finished in 2007.
 Stephen Robert Loken – the First Person Walked to the East End of Hushan Great Wall: He took 601 days and completed in 2011.

- Last modified on Jun. 19, 2020 -
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