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Independent Hiking of Mt. Huashan
Mt. Huashan is 138 kilometers (86 miles) from Xian Xianyang airport. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus from the airport, so you will have to go to downtown Xian and take a train or bus from there.
There are many trains traveling from Xian to Huashan or Huayin. The journey from the Xian Railway Station takes about one and a half hours (CNY20 per person). Get off at the Mt. Huashan stop, and take a taxi (CNY15-20) or at public bus (CNY3) to the Yuquan Yuan (Jade Spring Temple) booking office where you begin your trek. You can also take the bullet train from the Xian North Railway Station to Huashan North station, and then connect to the tourist bus (CNY 10) to get to the scenic area.
1. Take tourist bus No. 1 at the east square of the Xian Railway Station. The bus departs at 07:00 and returns from Mt. Huashan at 17:00. It costs CNY22 per person, and the whole journey takes about 2 hours. There is only one bus available, so you should arrive at the railway station as early as possible.
2. There are also regular buses running from the Xian Railway Station to Mt. Huashan. The last bus leaves the railway station at 17:00, and the last one departs from Mt. Huashan at 18:00. The trip takes about one and a half hours and costs CNY30 per person.
3. You can also take coaches from the Xian East Long-distance Bus Station. The coach runs every 30 minutes. The journey takes about two hours and costs CNY30 per person.
Mt. Huashan is known for its near-perpendicular cliffs and breathtaking scenery, so when hiking on the mountain you will have to climb narrow steps and steep ladders on rocks in addition to flat trail. Here is a brief description of the three sections of a popular trekking route:
1st section: Foot of Mt. Huashan (Yuquan Yuan) --> Huixin Rock --> North Peak
Road conditions: Winding trail from Yuquan Yuan to Qingke Ping
Stone stairway from Qingke Ping to Huxin Rock
Steep ladders from Huxin Rock to North Peak
2nd section: North Peak --> Jinsuo Guan
Road conditions: Steep ladders
3rd section: Jinsuo Guan-->Top of the rest Main Peaks
Road conditions: Flat trail and some ladders.
Should you have a tight schedule, just take one day for your exploration. This will require departure from Xian in the early morning. Then take the shuttle bus to the east gate of Mt. Huashan to take the cable car up to the North Peak. From the North Peak, you have a series of paths to reach the remaining four peaks. You will have 3 to 5 hours trekking time, but be sure to leave enough time to catch the last cable car down the mountain to avoid being stranded.
If you want to reach the East Peak to watch the sunrise, you can climb from Yuquan Yuan at night. Having watched the sun rise, you can then visit the Middle Peak, South Peak, West Peak and return to Jinsuo Guan to the foot of the mountain. This trip takes about 8-10 hours one way and this is also considered safer because in the dark you won't feel terrified at seeing the steep cliffs. However, you will miss out on the breathtaking scenery.
Start your trip from Yuquan Yuan, a Taoist temple at the entrance to Mt. Huashan. There is a 20-minute walk before you come to the ticket office at Wulong Qiao. The admission fee for the mountain is CNY 180 from March to November and CNY 100 from December to February. The first section from the entrance to Huixin Rock is a relatively easy uphill path. Some small shops are scattered along the road. You will pass the Yushi (20 minutes) - Wuli Guan (15 minutes) - Shimen (25 minutes) - Yunmen (20 minutes) - Huixin Rock.
It takes nearly two hours to reach Huixin Rock, the real starting point of this trek. You will find narrow steps instead of a flat path, and it will become steeper as you progress. It is said that if you're tired from following this route, you may well regret returning the same way. Beside the rock, as you continue to climb the 370 steep steps, you will go along a very breathtaking path, known as Qianchi Chuang (Thousand-Feet Precipice). Here you can only climb with the assistance of the iron chains. Just as its name implies, this site is 1,000 feet high and only 1 meter wide. The towering rocks and cliffs around will make you feel as if you were walking at the bottom of a well. Although this section is difficult, it is safe if you use the chains and step carefully.
Not far away from Ca'er Cliff, you need to climb 999 stairs to reach the Tianti (Heavenly Ladders) and view the Riyue Cliff. Continue to hike for another 5 minutes, and Canglong Ling will beckon you nearby. It is a path built on the mountain ridge which is one meter wide and you can only move with the help of iron rails. The overhanging cliffs on each side are nearly 70 meters high. After you walk across this section, you will feel more relaxed as the trail flattens and the steps are wider.
The next site is Jinsuo Guan (Gold Lock Pass). It is a custom to hang a golden padlock on the iron chains with families and friends as a prayer for happiness and good health. Up to now, you have successfully reached the end of the so-called “one way path of Mt. Huashan”. From Jinsuo Guan, you can continue to trek either clockwise or counter-clockwise. It is recommended that you follow the clockwise way from Jinsuo Guan - East Peak - Nantian Men - South Peak - West Peak - Middle Peak - Jinsuo Guan; although you can reverse the order this way if you prefer to trek counter-clockwise.
East Peak (2,090 meters high) has the best view of the sunrise. From Jinsuo Guan you have to walk for another 30 minutes and climb the Cloud Ladder, which is about 10 meters high. Then you will finally reach Guanri Tai (Sun Watching Terrace), the top of the East Peak. There you can also see the famous Yaozi Fanshen, Xiaqi Pavilion and Immortal Palm. Check in at the Dongfeng Hotel for the night and have a simple dinner there (it pays to make an early reservation). The next morning, you can enjoy the spectacular sunrise at dawn. The following schedule is the time of sunrise and sunset:
|Jan & Feb||07:42 – 07:47||17:45 – 18:03|
|Mar & Apr||06:35 – 07:10||18:35 – 18:56|
|May & Jun||05:29 – 05:44||19: 08 – 19:28|
|Jul & Aug||05:31 – 05:44||19:44 – 19:57|
|Sep & Oct||06: 16 – 06:29||18: 04 – 19:10|
|Nov & Dec||06:03 – 07:24||17:35 - 18:47|
On the second day, after watching the sunrise at the East Peak, continue your way to the other three peaks. It takes 35 minutes to reach Nantian Gate from East Peak. You will also pass the Changkong Zhandao (an ancient plank road built on the vertical face of a cliff), one of the most dangerous sites on Mt. Huashan. It is about 4 meters long and only 0.33 meters wide. Refresh yourself before you go for the next stop.
Then, after passing Yangtian Chi in another 25 minutes, you will reach the South Peak (2,160 meters high), "The Monarch of Mt. Huashan". You can be proud to say that you've conquered Mt. Huashan. The walk to West Peak (2,082 meters high), taking another 35 minutes, and there are no railings along this way but only an old wooden plank. You can visit the Taoist Temple and Cuiyun Palace.
From the Middle Peak, you can return to North Peak through Jinsuo Guan and Canglong Ridge the same way, which takes about an hour. Then take the cable car to the foot of the mountain and catch the shuttle bus back to Xian.
You should take gloves, a raincoat, any necessary medicines and a flashlight.
The average temperature on the mountain is 6.8℃, so be sure take enough clothes.
You can rent an overcoat for CNY 45 on the mountain.
Leave any heavy luggage at the foot of the mountain.
Don't drink too much water as it is not easy to find toilets on the mountain.
The best seasons for visiting Mt. Huashan are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October).
Please do remember to avoid climbing the mountain on Chinese holidays, such as the May Day (May 1st to 3rd) and the National Day (Oct 1st to 7th).
Excursion to Mt. Huashan: 4 days to Famen Temple (or Mt. Huashan)
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