Hiking from Jiankou (Zhengbeikou) to Mutianyu is one of the most¬†popular¬†Great Wall hiking routes.¬†It’s a good combination of an unrestored section of the wall that is¬†wild enough and the restored Mutianyu. Jiankou is half ruined, wild and untouched, and you won’t see big crowds. It has a wild beauty and ruggedness that cannot be described unless you visit it.
How long will the hike take?
Most first-time¬†Jiannkou hikers walk uphill via Xizhazi village at an average speed of¬†2.3km per hour. The entire hike from Jiankou (Zhengbeikou) to Mutianyu usually covers 3 -5 hours with some breaks regardless of individual fitness, age and/or length of stride.
How difficult is it to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu?
You don’t need¬†ropes, climbing gear, or any hiking / backpacking experience. This hike is¬†suitable for most people with average fitness.¬†I’ve seen all age groups have successfully hiked from Jiankou towards Mutianyu, from children under ten, to senior citizens.¬†The majority of¬†Jiankou hikers are here for the first time. However, weather conditions can make the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu¬†a lot tougher than what you have expected. For example, in hot summer, you feel much more difficult¬†dut to¬†the heat and humidity. In winter, frozen snow and ice on the Wall make¬†the Wall¬†difficult to walk through.
Xizhizi village to Zhengbeikou: The difficulty of the walk from Xizhazi to Zhengbeilou is moderate for most of us. It’s an hour¬†physically demanding hike uphill to reach Zhengbeikou Tower while the initial trail from Xizhazi¬†with not much of infrastructure is a little bit hard to follow.
Zhengbeikou to Ox Horn Edge: You can easily¬†hike from Zhengbeikou to Ox Horn Edge – only some loose bricks and stones but no steep slopes along the way. There are several deserted watch towers for you to explore.¬†At Ox Horn Edge, there are several places where you¬†have to walk¬†along the edge, quite high above the ground due to the overgrown bushes in summer. The bushes may push you over the side. There are also steep slopes with loose bricks and stones.
Climbing up Ox Horn Edge (reaching the highest tower then walk down) usually takes 1hour in spring or around 1.5 hours in summer. Serious and experienced rock climbers may want to climb up Ox Horn Eege, but most would¬†better to avoid¬†Ox Horn Edge¬†for the reasons of the safety.
Mutianyu has many stairs, some are quite steep. For most people the worst part of the hike at Mutianyu could be¬†walking down from tower 20 to 19 as the section between the two towers is around 70 to 80 degrees in height with about 440 vertical steps.¬†Watch the steps¬†if you have hip, ankles or knee issues.¬†You can easily walk on the rest of of Mutianyu once walking down from tower 19.
Statistics: 3 – 5 hours of walking over approx. 8km. Start height 600m, finish height 318m, highest point 1,044m (the tower on Ox-Horn Ridge). Total climbing up approx. 580m, total climbing down approx. 980m. The elevation of Zhengbeilou is 991 meters (3250 feet).
Overall, It’s a beautiful hike with spectacular views and plenty of spots to rest and not really strenuous.¬†Anyone looking for a¬†Wild Great Wall¬†experience – this is THE place to go. I would¬†highly recommend¬†the Great Wall one day¬†hike from Jiankou¬†to Mutianyu¬†for you. The scenic¬†hike is suitable¬†for moderately fit first time Great Wall visitors. It’s worth leaving your footprints.
Costs: Admission¬†fees for Jiankou / Mutianyu is RMB¬†20¬†/ 45,¬† Fees can be paid at each point.
Recommended time for visit: Plan your whole day around the Great Wall hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu. Leave early from Beijing, allow at least 2 hours to arrive at Xizhazi village, 4-5 hours trekking time and another 2 hours to return to Beijing.
Best time for hiking: Spring summer and fall will offer the best views. Winter could¬†be dangerous due to snow and ice.¬†Avoid to go when it is raining / snowing.