Code: XA13

Independent Hiking of Mt. Huashan

Mt. Huashan is located in Huayin city, 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) east of Xian, Shaanxi province. With an altitude of 2,160 meters (7,087 feet), Mt. Huashan is famous for its lofty peaks. It is one of the five sacred mountains in China, the other four being Mt. Taishan in Shandong, Mt. Hengshan in Hunan, Mt. Hengshan in Shanxi, and Mt. Songshan in Henan. As the old Chinese saying goes, "there has been only one path leading up Mt. Huashan since ancient times," so you can imagine how steep it is.

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.

Entrance to Mt. Huashan

Scenery of Mt. Huashan

By train:
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.

By Bus:
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.

Wuli Guan

Shaluo Ping to Maonv Cave

Prior to the Tang Dynasty, few people had ever conquered Mt. Huashan as it is so steep. Nowadays the mountain attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. It has five peaks each reached from different paths. These are Huashan Yu scenic area; Yuntai Scenic area near the North Peak (Cloud Terrace Peak); Chaoyang scenic area near East Peak (Sun Facing Peak); Luoyan scenic area near the South Peak (Wild Geese Landing Peak); Lianhua scenic area near West Peak (Lotus Flower Peak) and Wuyun Feng scenic area.

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.

Huixin Rock, the real starting
point of the mountain climb

Qianchi Zhuang
(Thousand-Foot Precipice)

This is a popular route that most visitors take, and along this route you will see most of the scenery on the mountain. You have three options to reach the North Peak. The first is to start trekking from Yuquan Yuan at the west gate of Mt. Huashan so you can enjoy the amazing scenery along the way. The second option is to take the cable car (7 – 8 minutes; CNY 90 one way and CNY 150 for a round trip) from the east gate to the North Peak directly. This saves time and energy for you to reach the other peaks. (The cable car runs from 07:00 to 19:00 between April and October, from 09:00 to 17:00 between November and March) The third option is to start trekking from the east gate on foot. Few people take this as there is little scenery along this route.

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.

Baichi Xia

Jinsuo Guan (Gold Lock Pass)

If this is your first time to Mt. Huashan, we suggest that you climb the mountain at night and enjoy the spectacular sunrise the next morning. Here is our suggested route: 

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.

Mt. Huashan climbing

Tianti (Heavenly Stairs)

Cross the "Qianchi Zhuang"" and continue to walk for 15 minutes. You will see "Baichi Xia", another precipitous path. Keep on climbing for another 25 minutes, and you will reach North Peak (1,614 meters high), the terminal of the cable car. The North Peak is also named Cloud Terrace Peak as steep cliffs surround the peak in all directions just like a flat terrace in the clouds. Standing here you can see the other three peaks and Canglong Ridge. Here you will also pass the Ca'er Cliff (ear rubbing cliff), to one side of the North Peak. In ancient times, it was said that tourists could only get through this narrow path by pressing one ear close to the cliff.

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 & Feb07:42 – 07:4717:45 – 18:03
Mar & Apr06:35 – 07:1018:35 – 18:56
May & Jun05:29 – 05:4419: 08 – 19:28
Jul & Aug05:31 – 05:4419:44 – 19:57
Sep & Oct06: 16 – 06:2918: 04 – 19:10
Nov & Dec06:03 – 07:2417:35 - 18:47

Sunrise on Mt. Huashan

Tourists passing the Plank Road

Tips: There are six decent hotels (North Peak Hotel, Wuyun Peak Hotel, Middle Peak Hotel, East Peak Hotel, Zhenyu Gong, Chaoyang Gong Hotel). There are also many hostels (¥50 for a bed for a night) on the mountain. The prices at the hostels are negotiable.

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.

Peak of the Mt. Huashan

South Peak, top of the Mt. Huashan

Continue to walk downwards for another 30 minutes to the Middle Peak where you will have a chance to visit the Taoist Jade Maiden Temple, Rootless Tree and Sacrificing Tree. The Middle Peak is actually regarded as a branch of the East Peak and the view is not as outstanding; you can leave out this part if you are feeling tired.

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.

Further Tips:
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).

 Top Deal:
Excursion to Mt. Huashan
: 4 days to Famen Temple (or Mt. Huashan)

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