Expert Tips For Selecting the Right Great Wall Hiking Routes
Have you ever been in over your head on a hike that was too difficult for your fitness level? Or have you ever been bored on a hiking tour that turned out to be too flat or too short?
Whether you plan to hike the Great Wall for a day or several days, your Great Wall hiking tour should provide the right challenge. There are several things to consider when choosing a Great Wall hiking route, including rating, difficulty, elevation and more. Here’s how to navigate the rating scale to figure out which route is right for you.
1. Hiking Difficulty
Choose the difficulty level according to your stamina, health condition and age. In fact, there are difficult routes as well as easy routes, choose the one that suit you. Here are some tips to consider when choosing the route.
- Easy – A route that is well-maintained without any elevation gain such as the Mutianyu Great Wall walk
- Moderate – A route with a steady ascent that has some roots and similar obstacles such as the Jiankou to Mutianyu hike, Jinshanling to Jinshanling East hike, or the Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu hike.
- Difficult – Steeper and longer ascents with roots, debris, rocks, and similar obstacles such as the Gubeikou to Jinshanling East hike.
The longer your hike is, the more difficult it will be. In fact, an experienced hiker can easily cover 3-4 km in an hour. If you are a beginner, you should aim for 1.5-3.0 km per hour. For example:
- Jinshanling to Jinshanling East hike covers 6-7km
- Gubeikou to Jinshanling hike covers 10-11km
- Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu hike covers 6-7km
- Jiankou to Mutianyu hike covers 9-10km
3. Elevation Gain
Although you may allocate one-hour for every 3-4 km of hiking, you should allocate extra time for elevation changes. You may need to plan at least an hour for every 300 meters of ascending – depending on your ability.
In fact, the higher you go, the slower you will probably hike. On the other hand, trails that go above the tree line can become rockier and much more difficult to travel. The elevation will also have an impact on your travel.
- elevation gain from Jinshanling to Jinshanling East: 300m
- elevation gain from Gubeikou to Jinshanling: 400m
- elevation gain from Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu: 250m
- elevation gain from Jiankou to Mutianyu: 650m
Steepness is the amount of elevation you would gain within a given distance. In fact, trail grades are usually determined by dividing the horizontal distance of the trail by its vertical distance.
- Jinshanling to Jinshanling East hike: More than 35 degrees incline and short steep sections. Sometimes the use of the hands is required for balance. Low risk of slide.
- Gubeikou to Jinshanling hike: Less than 30 degrees incline and short steep sections, No risk of slide or fall.
- Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu hike: Terrain sometimes steep. Low risk of slide, short slides ending without risks.
- Jiankou to Mutianyu hike: More than 35 degrees incline and short steep sections. Low risk of fall or slide. Sometimes the use of the hands is required for balance.
- Mutianyu walk: Short steep sections. Sometimes the use of the hands is required for balance. Low risk of fall or slide.
5. Current Fitness Level
Your fitness level is important when choosing the most suitable Great Wall hike for you. When you try to hike above your ability levels, you may experience problems on the trails such as injury, exhaustion, and inability to finish the hike.
That is why you should opt for something that matches your current fitness levels without immediately choosing a difficult hike just to improve your fitness levels. On the other hand, if you plan to hike the Great Wall with kids, you should keep the hike short and sweet.
The scenery is also important other than the difficulty level. In case you are interested in witnessing the fascinating sunset and sunrise images of the wall, you should be choosing areas such as Jiankou, Jinshanling, and Simatai. Some of the other sections that are ideal for great photo shoots include the Mutianyu and Huanghuacheng.
Here are the basics that you should take into consideration when planning the hike. It will ensure the safety of you and your crew during the trip.
- The weather of the specific day’
- The nature of the trail – such as altitude, gain, terrain, etc.
- The gear that you should accompany
- A fully-charged phone
- Make sure you let people know where you are going, the route, and when you expect to be back.
- Adequate food and water
- Other safety concerns such as wildlife access restrictions, etc.
Follow these tips and your Great Wall of China hike is sure to be an epic one that’s memorable for years to come – for all the right reasons!