Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking

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On September 26, 2010, with my co-worker Paul Song, we two successfully made a six-hour trek from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall. It is our first time hiking Gubeikou Great Wall and marching from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall on the same day. It was a great experience! I’m going to jot down the six-hour hiking, which may be useful for those who are planning their trip to Gubeikou Great Wall and the most challenging tramp from Gubeikou to Jinshanling as well. 

So if you are going to visit Simatai Great Wall, then you turn right at the traffic sign board; follow your nose if you are going to drive along G101 (National Highway 101), which takes you to Gubeikou.

At 7:30am we three, including our driver – Mr.Liu, started for Gubeikou. We drove along Jingcheng Expressway (Beijing – Chengde Expressway) and got off the expressway at Exit 24 (Simatai Great Wall Exit). After paying the toll fee (RMB 60 for a van ), we turned left at the first traffic light, which is just about 100 meters away from the toll gate.

Not long, we came across a traffic sign board pointing to two directions – Simatai Great Wall (2.5km) and G101. So if you are going to visit Simatai Great Wall, then you turn right at the traffic sign board; follow your nose if you are going to drive along G101 (National Highway 101), which takes you to Gubeikou.

The 10km-drive from Exit 24 of Jingcheng Expressway to G101 was very idyllic. We passed through several villages before we got to G101 linking Gubeikou County. It was another 10km’s drive along G101 before we arrived at the Gubeikou Village at the foot of Gubeikou Great Wall. The total 150km drive took us about 2.5 hours.

Googling “Gubeikou Great Wall”, there are tons of articles introducing Gubeikou Great Wall on the internet, but most of them are quite confusing and misleading! It seems that few of the writers have been here, contributing to the puzzling articles about Gubeikou Great Wall on the net.

At the gate of Gubeikou Village we met Mr. Wang Jian, the deputy of Gubeikou Scenic and Cultural Heritage Tourism. He said that in ancient times Gubeikou Great Wall was composed of the present four sections of the Great wall, namely Simatai Great Wall, Jinshanling Great Wall, Panlongshan Great Wall and Wohushan Great Wall extending over 20 kilometers with over 143 watch towers and beacon towers.

The name of “Gubeikou” has existed for over one thousand years while other four names of “Simatai Great Wall”, “Jinshanling Great Wall”, “Panlongshan Great Wall” and “Wohushan Great Wall” only appeared some 20 years ago when local governments were keen on developing Great wall tourism and creating different names for the “bits” of the Wall both from economic and administrative perspectives.

Gubeikou Great Wall Map

Gubeikou Great Wall Map

In a narrow sense, today’ Gubeikou Great Wall is only composed of two parts – Panlongshan Great Wall and Wohushan Great Wall. “Panlongshan” literally means “Coiled Dragon Mountain” while “Wohushan” literally means “Crouching Tiger Mountain”.

The two mountains faces each other with a valley in between from south to north, a strategic passage in the ancient times linking Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Now the valley has been turned into a fast developing Gubeikou Township under Miyun County of Beijing City.

Wohushan Great Wall is now still completely wild and unrestored, not officially opened to the public while Panlongshan Great Wall is partially opened by the local government. So when people talk about Gubeikou Great Wall, very often they refer to Panlongshan Great Wall.
The entry to Panlongshan Great Wall is inside the Gubeikou Village under the administration of Gubeikou Township, which boasts one of the most beautiful villages around Beijing. In fact, there are two starting points to hike Panlongshan Great Wall: a offical one where you have your tickets collected; the other is more challenging starting point for more time-consuming and energy demanding hike. We chose the unofficial one. We paid RMB 25 each for the entry tickets, which later turned out to totally unnecessary since nobody bothered to collect our tickets higher on the mountains.

Don’t follow the arrow pointing to 蟠龙山长城(Panlongshan Great Wall) if you prefer more challenging hike

With the help of local farmers, we finally located the unofficial starting place for the 6-hour hike. Here are some tips for you to find the starting point. Entering the Gubeikou Village, and walking for about two hundred meters, you will see a road sign board in Chinese with four arrows pointing to two directions. Don’t follow the arrow pointing to 蟠龙山长城(Panlongshan Great Wall) if you prefer more challenging hike. So follow the two arrows contradictory to the arrow pointing to the officially opened section of Panlongshan Great Wall.

Walking up the slope for about 100 meters on your right roadside, you will find “an arrow painted in blue”, that’s your starting point!! It is said that the mark was done a half-year ago by a group of foreign tourists who did the long march from Panlongshan to Jinshanling Great Wall. Later, these marks turned out to be a huge help for us to fulfil the trek.

It was a fine day with temperatures between 11 and 25 degrees Celsius, a perfect day for Great Wall hiking. The endless azure sky and brilliant sunshine combine to create a backdrop for the grandeur mountains and the Wall.  

 

The painted blue arrow on the roadside is the starting point for our 6-hour long march.

Before we did the hike, I had googled some information on Gubeikou Great Wall and learned that there are two parallel sections of the Great Wall on the Panlong Mountain running shoulder to shoulder. One section was built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 – 557) and other section was constructed in the early Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644).

I think on our feet is the Northern Qi Dynasty Great Wall largely made of mud instead of stones in Ming dynasty. So for this section, we were more like climbing a hill than the Wall.

.So for this section, we were more like climbing a hill than the Wall.

Atop a mound, we had a clear view of the Wohushan Great Wall on our east side and the Gubeikou Township in the valley ( not Gubeikou Village). The Gubeikou Village was on the south down below.

Atop a mound, we had a clear view of the Wohushan Great Wall on our east side and the Gubeikou Township in the valley .

The Gubeikou Village was on the south down below.

The Gubeikou Village was on the south down below.

The Ming Dynasty Wall in the north runned shoulder to shoulder to the Qi dynasty Wall under our feet.

The Ming Dynasty Wall in the north runned shoulder to shoulder to the Qi Dyansty Wall under our feet.

A sign board and a painted blue arrow pointing to the way to the Ming Dynasty Wall snaking on the hill in the north. Thus we ended our hike on the Qi Dynasty Wall and started to walk down, hike through the deep valley and climb up to the Ming dynasty Wall at a distance.

A sign board and a painted blue arrow pointing to the way to the Ming Dynasty Wall.

At first, we were a little scared of the trek in the deep valley up to the hill in the north where the paralleled Ming Dynasty Great Wall lies. But the trek turned out to be a highlight.

On the zigzag mountain trail and in the bushes, we came across lots of jujube and hawthorn trees laden with fruits. Eating fresh fruits added much delight to the dull and hard walk in the valley.

we came across lots of jujube and hawthorn trees laden with fruits.

 

It took us half hour to clear of the bushy valley and up on to the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

It took us half hour to clear of the bushy valley and up on to the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

 

On the Wall

On the Wall

 

I took a stereotyped photo before the Coiled Dragon Mountain Great Wall ( Panlongshan Great Wall).

The wall is a piece of art

Trek ahead on the Wall

This is the last watch tower: 24-window tower, also the end of the accessible Panlongshan Great Wall. The further section of the Wall is forbidden for hiking for it is within the military zone.

This is the last watch tower: 24-window tower.

 

The further section of the Wall is forbidden for hiking for it is within the military zone. So up to now the hiking of the whole accessible section of Panlongshan Great Wall took us three hours!

The further section of the Wall is forbidden for hiking for it is within the millitary zone. So up to now the hiking of the whole accessible section of Panlongshan Great Wall took us three hours!

We had to make a detour by the forbidden wall, again went down to the deep valley and began our three-hour mountain hike along the Wall.

We had to make a detour by the forbidden wall, again went down to the deep valley and began our three-hour mountain hike along the Wall

This was our second valley trek, which turned out to be much tougher and challenging than the previous one. We were totally submerged in the bushes. The mountain trail was muddy and slippery.

The mountain trail was muddy and slippery.

Coming across a corn field. We saw some local farmer collected ripe corns.

Coming across a corn field. We saw some local farmer cllected ripe corns.

On the way, we also met a local farmer surnamed Zhou. He was herding sheep. He said he could serve as a guide to help us to get to our destination – Jinshanling Great Wall and the Jinshanling Hotel.

He gave his mobile – 13313283029. So next time if you are in trouble finding your way to Jinshanling, you can call him by paying him a small sum of money.

On the way, we also met a local farmer surnamed Zhou.

He was right! Ahead of us there was no arrows pointing to the right direction to our destination. It was a private farmland and marks are not allowed! We totally lost our way and had to turn to a local farmer for help.

We totally lost our way and had to turn to a local farmer for help.

We were making the road toward our destination – Jinshanling Hotel.

We were making the road toward our destination – Jinshanling Hotel

Climbed over the last mountain, we saw Jinshanling Hotel in the valley. We made it!

Climbed over the last mountain, we saw Jinshanling Hotel in the valley. We made it!

Finally we ended our 6-hour hellish march from Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall  at 5:00pm, September 26, 2010. But it’s not the end for us, it’s a new beginning since our next travel plan was to watch the sunset on the Great Wall, or specifically on the Jinshanling Great Wall. We were reminded by the ticket collector that the sun would drop below the horizon or the Wall in 20-30 minute! if missing the sunset, we would had have to waited another day, which was impossible due to my heavy schedule.

Not allowing ourselves to take a short break, we had to restart our walking engine and quickened the walking speed, trying to occupy a better place on the wall to view the sunset. More haste,less speed!  I suddenly felt trembling and twitching in the legs muscles as a result of the broken balance of the continued walking speed in the past 6 hours. I had to stop, bended and sat on the roadside massaging my two legs.

The temptation of capturing the glowing sunset was so great, that I had no time to spoil myself and limped with lame legs from the entrance to the base of Jinshanling Great Wall. While again clambering up the wall, I was out of breath and pooped. Perseverance is victory! I passed through 4 watch towers on the west section of Jinshanling Great Wall non-stop and located a good site for my sunset photographing.

There had been already a great number of people dotting here and there on the “bits” of the Wall waiting to see and shoot beautiful sunset photos. Most of them were professional photographers heavily armed with high quality cameras, outperforming my EOS 500D to a great extent, of which I took pride. Compared with these “crazy” photographers, I appeared like a silly farmboy. But this never dampened my enthusiasm to view the sunset with my good eyesight as well as my clumsy shooting skill.

The sun slowly descended and disappeared behind the horizon combined with the mountains and the Wall in a distance, a perfect backdrop for a sunset. The dazzling sunset color bursts and paints the sky with bright hues. I pictured the sunsets through a window of a watch tower. The sunset was amazing. The red ball of fire slowly dropped below the mountains coating the Wall with dazzling and beautiful hues.

Mountains and the Wall as a backdrop for the sunset

 

A framed Great Wall sunset

The Wall was coated with orange hues

Armed photographers on the Wall

The Wall overlooking the sunset

Hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall Day Tour from US$85 p/p
Any questions,just drop a line.

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2 Responses to “Gubeikou Great Wall to Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking”

  1. Derek says:

    Hi,

    Is this hike available in late November?

    Appreciate your assistance.

    Derek Chochol

  2. Daniel says:

    Hi Derek,

    Yes, but you should be well prepared for the cold and windy weather in the late November. Good luck!

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