Hiking The Great Wall: Jiankou

While I was in Hong Kong for work, I thought I’d take a few days off afterwards to explore Beijing and hike a remote section of the Great Wall.

After looking into the different sections of the Great Wall of China, I decided upon a hike from the Jiankou section to Mutianyu. This section of the wall appealed to me due to it’s remoteness (we probably saw less than ten people on the day) and rugged, unrestored look – as if it hadn’t been touched for hundreds of years. Plus, from what I had read online, it sounded like this section was one of the more challenging sections of the Wall to hike, which got me even more excited.

I booked a private guide for the day who met us at our hotel in Beijing and took us to our starting point of the hike, approx. 90 minutes away by car. James was our guide for the day and I couldn’t recommend him enough if you’re looking for a similar experience in Beijing. You can find him at Greatwall Trekclub Tours.

The Wall for days

As we began our hike, we started to ascend through a bushy, dirt trail up towards the Great Wall. Looking back, this initial ascent was probably one of the more challenging sections of the day – acclimatising to the heat and humidity would have attributed to that too. Upon getting onto the wall, we had to climb up a very sketchy looking scaffold with the help of one of the locals who happened to be there – I assume he was working on this particular section of the Wall.

Climbing up sections of the wall sometimes felt like you were on a Stairmaster

Once we got on the Wall, it was approximately a 5km hike to our finishing point. I thought and hoped the hike would have been a lot longer than 5km, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience anyway as we were blessed with spectacular weather, tranquility on the trails and lush, green mountainous landscapes amongst our surroundings.

L: Not another person in sight of this stunning view | R: An example of the ruggedness of this section of the Wall

We couldn’t have asked for a better day to do the hike

L: Trying to capture the steepness of the wall, it really doesn’t do it much justice | R: A completely crumbled section

A few of the only people we came across in the distance

While the hike was not as challenging as I had hoped it to be, you do definitely need to be mobile and hold a decent level of fitness as there were some instances where you were crawling on all fours, scrambling up and down loose sections of the Wall. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience of the Great Wall, I couldn’t recommend the Jiankou section enough.