Leave No Trace – The 7 Principles of Hiking the Great Wall of China

Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints!

Great Wall hiking


Here at WildGreatWall Adventure Tours we love to help people to get outdoors and get hiking the Great Wall of China. We’re avid hikers ourselves and regularly hit the hills. We’re also strong believers in the Leave No Trace principles and encourage our hikers to practice this outdoor code of ethics.

Great Wall of China isn’t just any tourist attraction, however; as a place of great historic, cultural, and spiritual significance, the Great Wall of China must be treated with the utmost respect.

Simply put, to protect the Great Wall of China, the Leave No Trace principles is the best practices we should follow. Take a look at these simple rules, and try to keep them in mind next time for hiking the Great Wall:

1. Plan And Prepare

The Great Wall of China’s various sections span over 13,000 miles. Clearly, you won’t walk the entire wall in a single visit. It’s important to know which section of the Great Wall that you should visit. If you stay in Beijing, you might check out Badaling, Mutianyu or Jinshanling.

Mutianyu is by far the most accessible section. Badaling is stunning, but tends to draw large crowds. Jinshanling requires more of a trek, but the view is well worth the effort. If you’re interested in visiting a remote section of the wall, both Gubeikou and Jiankou are good options for you.

Once you’ve planned your hiking destination, pack the essentials. Bring plenty of sunscreen, food, and most importantly, a pair of hiking.

2. Travel And Camp On Durable Surfaces

Some areas of the Great Wall are sturdier and therefore more suitable for travel (and camping) than others. When in doubt, stick to restored sections and established trails.

Use existing campsite and trails to minimize the damage caused to the environment. Many trails in Jinshanling Great Wall are maintained by an authority in order for people to use and to lessen the impact on the ground below.

Leave No Trace – The 7 Principles of Hiking the Great Wall in China


3. Dispose Of Waste Properly

Nothing can transform a beautiful historic site into an eyesore more quickly than trash left by careless visitors. If you hike or camp on the wall, bring bags for storing trash so you can pack it out following your stay.

Always bring a rubbish bag with you so that you can clean up after your snacks and lunch break on the Great Wall.

4. Leave What You Find

It’s tempting to take souvenirs from the Great Wall of China to show your loved ones back home. In doing so, however, you’re harming the site’s legacy. What’s more, local law forbids removal of bricks, stones, or other pieces of the Great Wall. Failure to follow this rule could result in harsh fines or even detention by local law enforcement officials.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

By cooking your meal at the wall, you risk charring or blackening historic bricks. As with stealing portions of the wall, endangering the site via campfire could lead to significant fines or other penalties.

In places where campfires are permitted, make sure your fire is contained and safe while ensuring the fire is completely extinguished when you leave it.



6. Respect Wildlife

If you visit one of the Great Wall of China’s many forested areas, you could see local wildlife such as the monal pheasant, oryx gazella, or African hoopoe.

Don’t feed these animals; this fosters dependence on humans and makes it difficult for them to survive in the wild. Feel free to take photos or observe wildlife with binoculars, but do not venture close to animals that reside on or near the wall.

7. Be Considerate Of Others

Visitors from all over the world gather to experience the wonder of the Great Wall of China. Crowds can be frustrating, but a little respect can go a long way in making the journey more enjoyable for all.

Avoid loud voices or music while hiking and allow other hikers to enjoy nature’s ambience.  Be patient if visitors near you seem slow; don’t push or jostle others.



The Leave No Trace principles apply perfectly to your Great Wall of China journey. Treat this cultural gem with the respect it deserves, and you can ensure future generations’ ability to make lifelong memories.

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