This is a continuation from an earlier post: ‘Part 1: The Great Wall hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu without a guide‘. In gist, I had engaged Zhang from Here is Beijing for a six hour Great Wall hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu. He provided a car transfer from my hotel in central Beijing to Jiankou, followed by a pickup at Mutianyu at the end of the hike. Zhang later linked me up with a group of German travellers. One of them, J, was planning to trek from Jiankou to Mutianyu too. Part 1 of the post covers our hike from Jiankou (the Xizhazi village) to the Zhang Bei Lou watchtower. This post will highlight other key sections of the hike. You can reference the Watchtower numbers from the map below:
4. The Ox Horn (牛角）(Watchtower 31 – 27)
We carried on along the wild part of the Great Wall and approached the next key section of the hike – the Ox Horn. As the name suggest, this section of the wall is shaped like the horn of an ox. This section was challenging due to the steepness of the path and the fact that there were many loose stones and rocks along the way. My hiking boots were put to good use here.
According to the map Zhang had shared with us (see second photo of this post), there is a short cut which allows you to skip this section of the wall, but I highly recommend heading up the Ox Horn, as it’s the highest point of the Jiankou – Mutianyu Great Wall hike. The view is worth it!
Going up the steep slope was a test of endurance, while heading down was a test of balance and strength. I was so glad that there were parts of the Wall still intact. When heading down, we descended as if we were climbing down a ladder. I recall clutching onto the remaining parts of the wall for support. The trick is that for every step you take, you got to make sure that the stones you’re stepping on are firmly rooted in the ground. Get a good balance first before taking the next step.
The path towards Mutianyu gets easier from there on, as seen from the photos below.
5. Barrier to enter a section of wall at Mutianyu (Watchtower 20)
There’s a section of the wall which has been blocked (see picture). But fret not, you can easily get pass the barrier by climbing over a ledge. It’s not dangerous as there is space further from the ledge.
6. Cable car (Watchtower 14) or toboggan your way down (Watchtower 6-5)
You have the option of taking a cable car down from Tower 14, or using the toboggan to slide down at Tower 6-5. We took the toboggan down and I highly recommend it! (Though the speed of the toboggan was somewhat limited by an elderly lady who was in front of us.) We also had to make an interim stop halfway through the ride as the lady was not going fast enough. But it was fun! The feeling of sliding down the Great Wall is quite empowering. My legs were also quite sore from the hike earlier, so this was quite a relief. It cost RMB100 for the toboggan ticket and RMB80 for a one-way cable car ticket.
Note: There are toilets available at the cable car station at Watchtower 14.
7. Taking the shuttle bus back to the visitor centre
Vehicles are not allowed at the foot of the Great Wall at Mutianyu, so you will need to take a shuttle bus down to the visitor centre. That is where Zhang had parked his van and we concluded our hike. The shuttle bus ticket cost us RMB10 and the bus service is regular. You have the option of walking down too, but my legs were not having any of that.
The Travelling Squid’s Take on the six hour Great Wall hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu
I thought that the six hour Great Wall hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu was a good balance. The tougher part was at the start when we ascended. After the Ox Horn, the rest of the walk was manageable as we were descending. Zhang also said the it was better for the hike to be from Jiankou to Mutianyu and not the other way round as there are more up slopes for the latter.
I do encourage you to stop and enjoy the scenery at each part of the hike, especially at the wild parts. There isn’t a need to rush – we completed the hike in about 6 hours. Zhang wasn’t too particular about time we took. We were to meet him at 3.30pm, but arrived at the visitor centre at about 3.45pm.
To be honest, I was worried about doing this hike alone. I was concerned about losing my way, and not being able locate the Great Wall from the Xizhazi village. Or falling down and getting injured with no one to help me. It’s strange because I don’t recall being so cautious back in my early twenties, when I used to travel in India alone. Hence, I was very grateful to have J as a coincidental travelling companion. The hike is challenging at the earlier stages, but as you can see from the photos, it gets better as you go along. My take is that it is worth attempting even if you’re alone, as there are people hiking along the Jiankou part of the Great Wall, just not many.
I am not sure how long will the wild part of the Great Wall remain. It could change due to redevelopment plans. But for as long as possible, I hope its raw and rustic charm endures. As I gripped the Wall for support while covering the steeper slopes, I can’t help but wonder about the people who built the Great Wall centuries ago, with simpler tools and in much harsher conditions. Perhaps, it’s a symbol of the accomplishments of human endeavor, to be appreciated and preserved by many generations to come.
Please don’t litter when you are there.
Note: The trip was paid for by The Travelling Squid.
Should you be keen to do the six hour Great Wall hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu, Zhang from Here is Beijing can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org , or best, through WeChat at (0086) 15652318283. If the six hour hike is too long for you, you could also consider a hike at Jinshanling. It should take about 3 hours.