Gubeikou – Jinshanling Day Hike, The Complete Guide for Beginners in 2024

gubeikou day hike

 

Step Up Your Hiking Game: Embark on a Gubeikou-Jinshanling Adventure

The Gubeikou part of the Great Wall is a super cool spot that’s not too crowded. It’s a great place to see the wall’s real beauty and learn about its history!

Near Beijing, there’s an awesome hiking trail called the Gubeikou & Jinshanling Great Wall Trail. It goes through two parts of the Great Wall: Gubeikou and Jinshanling.

This trail is an amazing chance to see how magnificent the Great Wall is and learn about its past, all while enjoying the stunning views around you.

If you’re thinking about hiking this trail, here are some fun facts to know before you go. Enjoy your adventure!

Essential Trail Info

  • Close to Beijing: The Gubeikou & Jinshanling Great Wall Trail is just 135 kilometers northeast of Beijing. It’s a car ride away, taking about 2.5 hours to get there.
  • Unique Sections to Explore: The Gubeikou part of the trail has two cool sections: Wohushan and Panlongshan. Most hikers start at Panlongshan and then trek east to Jinshanling. This part of the hike is safe and fun!
  • Must-See Landmarks: The hike from Panlongshan to Jinshanling is about 11 kilometers and takes around 4 to 5 hours. When you get to Jinshanling, you’ll see some really neat watchtowers and get to enjoy amazing views of the Great Wall as it winds through the mountains.
  • Rewarding Challenge for Hikers: This hike is a bit tough but so worth it. It’s perfect for those who love a good adventure and have a bit of hiking experience.

In this guide, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to plan your trip, including how to get there, where to stay, what to pack, and tips for staying safe and healthy on the trail.

Gubeikou Great Wall: Explore Two Unique Sections

The Gubeikou section of the Great Wall is divided into two distinct parts – the Wohushan section and the Panlongshan section.

These two parts of the trail offer different features and scenery, making the Gubeikou section a unique and exciting place to hike.

The Wohushan section is known for its steep inclines and challenging terrain, while the Panlongshan section is considered more accessible and easier to hike.

Both sections offer stunning views of the Great Wall and the surrounding landscape.

Panlongshan: General Tower and 24-Window Towers

The Panlongshan section of the Gubeikou & Jinshanling Great Wall Trail features several notable landmarks, including the General Tower and the 24-window Towers.

The General Tower is a large and imposing watchtower that was once used as a military command post.

It offers incredible views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for hikers to take a break and admire the scenery.

The 24-window Towers, as the name suggests, feature a series of small windows that look out over the surrounding mountains.

These towers are known for their unique architecture and are a great place to stop and take in stunning views.

Both the General Tower and 24-window Towers are well-preserved and provide a glimpse into the history and architecture of the Great Wall.

Why Hike This Trail?

1. Crowd-free

Firstly, the trail offers a crowd-free experience, allowing hikers to explore the Great Wall without being surrounded by large crowds of tourists.

2. Classic Great Wall Hiking Experience

Secondly, the trail provides excellent opportunities for hiking and exploration, with different sections offering unique features and scenery.

3. Semi-restored

Additionally, the trail includes semi-restored sections of the Great Wall, providing a glimpse into the history and architecture of this iconic landmark.

4. breathtaking views

Lastly, the trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and landscape, making it a rewarding and unforgettable experience for hikers.

Hike Difficulty

The difficulty of the hike is moderate, making it suitable for the average person.

The trail is approximately 11 kilometers long and takes around 4-5 hours to complete, including time for rest and photo breaks.

The terrain is rugged and includes loose rocks and sand, which can be slippery, so it’s important to wear appropriate footwear and clothing and to walk slowly when descending to avoid any injuries.

If you regularly exercise, you shouldn’t have any issues with this trail.

However, if you don’t exercise regularly, you may experience muscle soreness and leg pain for up to two days after the hike.

It’s recommended to take regular breaks and stay hydrated throughout the hike to help prevent any discomfort.

Prepare for the Weather

The weather conditions at the Great Wall of China are typically similar to those in Beijing, featuring hot and humid summers, cold and dry winters, and frequent experiencing heavy smog during the winter season.

Check out our post “Weathering the Great Wall: What You Need to Know” for some helpful tips on how to prepare for the weather.

Opening Hours and Ticket Prices

Aspect Details
Daily Opening Hours 7:30 am – 5:30 pm
Summer Opening Hours 5:00 am – 7:30 pm
Holiday/Special Event Hours Check official WeChat account (jslccglc) for updates
Ticket Prices (April 1 – Oct 31) Jinshanling: 65 RMB (~$10 USD) per person<br>Gubeikou: 33 RMB per person
Ticket Prices (Nov 1 – Mar 31) Jinshanling: 55 RMB (~$8 USD) per person<br>Gubeikou: 25 RMB per person

Remember, these hours and prices can change, especially during holidays or special events, so it’s always a good idea to double-check the most current details before your visit.

Getting There

Gubeikou is located about 130 kilometers from Beijing, it can be reached by car, train, or bus.

Below, I’ll guide you through the different transportation options and provide tips for your Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall day hike tour.

By Car

Driving Directions

To reach Gubeikou by car, head northeast from Beijing along the Jingcheng Expressway (G45).

Take exit 24B towards Miyun, then follow signs for Gubeikou.

The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.

Parking Information

Upon arrival, you’ll find a parking lot near the entrance to the Great Wall section.

Parking fees may apply, so remember to bring cash for the parking attendant.

By Train

Train Routes

You can take the S501 train at Beijing North Station, Qinghe Station, or Changping North Station to Gubeikou Train Station.

it takes approx. 2 hours to reach Gubeikou Station by train. The ticket price is around 12 RMB per person.

Upon arriving at Gubeikou Train Station, you may hire a taxi to Gubeikou (Panlongshan) Great Wall, which is approximately 6 km away or a 20-minute drive and costs between 20-50 RMB.

gubeikou by train

Ticket Information

Train tickets can be purchased online through trip.com, at the train station, or through a travel agency.

It is advisable to book your tickets online in advance, particularly during peak travel seasons. Check the latest train prices.

Remember to bring your passport, as it’s required for train ticket purchases in China.

By Bus

Bus Routes

To reach Gubeikou by bus, take bus number 980 from Dongzhimen Bus Station in Beijing to Miyun Bus Station. The trip takes about 2 hours.

From Miyun, transfer to a local bus heading to Gubeikou. This leg of the journey will take approximately 1.5 hours.

Bus Fares and Schedule

Bus fares vary depending on the route and distance.

Typically, the total cost for a one-way trip from Beijing to Gubeikou by bus is around 50 RMB. Buses run daily, with more frequent departures in the morning and early afternoon.

Gubeikou-Jinshanling Day Hike: An Overview

The Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike is a popular option for those looking to experience the majestic beauty of the Great Wall.

The hike covers a distance of approximately 10 km and takes 4-6 hours to complete.

This section of the Wall is less crowded and offers stunning panoramic views, making it a perfect choice for adventure seekers and photographers alike.

What You’ll Experience

During the Gubeikou-Jinshanling hike, you’ll traverse both restored and wild sections of the Great Wall, allowing you to appreciate its history and architecture.

It’s important to note that some parts of the Gubeikou section fall within a military zone, and visitors are not permitted to walk on the entire wall.

To reach the Jinshanling section, you will need to disembark at the 24 Window Tower and follow a hilly trail for approximately 1-2 hours.

Gubeikou-Jinshanling Hike Segments

Essentially, the Gubeikou-Jinshanling route is divided into three segments:

  1. the Gubeikou section (about a 2-hour walk)
  2. the hilly trail near the military zone (roughly a 1-hour walk)
  3. the western section of Jinshanling (approximately 1.5 hours)

Hiking Essentials & Tips

The trail can be challenging in some parts, with steep ascents and descents, so proper footwear and a moderate fitness level are recommended.

Remember to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat to stay comfortable during the hike.

Cost Breakdown for the Day Hike

The cost of the Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike can vary depending on your choice of transportation and whether you join a guided tour or explore independently.

Here’s a rough breakdown of the costs:

  1. Transportation: ¥50-1000  round-trip, depending on your choice of car, train, or bus.
  2. Entrance fees: ¥30 for Gubeikou and ¥65 for Jinshanling.
  3. Guided tour (optional): ¥200-700 per person based on group size. As the number of participants increases, the cost per person decreases. The fee covers transportation, guide services, and lunch.

To save money on your Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike, consider the following tips:

  1. If you are traveling with 3 or 4 people, hiring a private driver can be a cost-effective option, as the cost of transportation will be shared among the group members.
  2. Pack your own lunch and snacks to avoid paying inflated prices at the Wall.

Mapping Your Journey

Gubeikou Jinshanling map

The Best Gubeikou – Jinshanling Route to Take

When it comes to hiking the Gubeikou – Jinshanling trail, there are two primary options: walking the entire route or walking Gubeikou and returning.

Let’s explore both of these options in more detail.

Option 1: Walking the Entire Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall Route

This option is the most challenging but also the most rewarding.

The entire trail covers about 10 kilometers (6 miles) and can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to complete.

You will start at Gubeikou and hike towards Jinshanling, passing through 23 watchtowers and four mountain peaks along the way.

The views of the Great Wall and the surrounding landscape are breathtaking, and you will have plenty of opportunities to take amazing photos.

Option 2: Walk Gubeikou and Return

If you don’t have the time or energy to walk the entire trail, walking to Gubeikou and returning is a great alternative.

This route is approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete.

The trail is less crowded, and you will still get to see some of the most beautiful parts of the Great Wall, including the Gubeikou and Jinshanling sections.

To Cable Car or Not?

The decision to take the Jinshanling cable car for going down depends on your personal preferences, physical abilities, and the purpose of your visit.

If you have any physical limitations or concerns, such as knee or ankle problems, taking the cable car may be a good option.

It can save you a lot of energy and prevent potential injuries that may occur while walking downhill.

On the other hand, if you enjoy hiking and want to experience the stunning views of the Great Wall from a different perspective, walking down may be a more suitable option.

It can be an excellent opportunity to take pictures and appreciate the natural surroundings.

Additionally, if you are on a tight schedule, taking the cable car can save you time, allowing you to explore other attractions or activities.

Overall, both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it ultimately comes down to your personal preference and situation.

Marathon Challenge

If hiking the entire Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall route is not challenging enough for you, why not try running a marathon on this trail?

The Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall Marathon is held annually in May and is a unique opportunity to combine fitness with adventure.

The marathon covers the entire hiking trail, and participants must climb over 5,000 stairs and conquer four mountain peaks.

The views from the top are unforgettable, and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.

Ultimate Great Wall Sections Guide

If you’re planning a trip to the Great Wall of China, this article explores some of the best sections to visit, including Badaling, Mutianyu, Simatai, and Jiankou.

Badaling: The Popular Gateway

Badaling is the most accessible and popular section of the Great Wall, attracting millions of visitors every year.

Located 70 km north of Beijing, it boasts stunning views, and steep climbs, and has undergone renovations since its opening to the public in 1957.

What to Expect

Badaling Great Wall is easy to navigate with a paved walkway, but it can be crowded during peak tourist seasons.

Visitors can take a cable car or hike upstairs for a more challenging experience.

It’s important to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather, especially during hot and humid summers.

Mutianyu: Scenic and Serene

Mutianyu Great Wall, located 70 km northeast of Beijing, is a popular section known for stunning views and natural scenery.

It has undergone renovations and restorations and is now well-preserved.

What to Expect

Mutianyu Great Wall is less crowded than Badaling, with a 2.5 km stretch open to tourists. Visitors can take a cable car or hike upstairs to reach the wall. It’s surrounded by lush greenery, making it a great option for nature lovers.

Simatai: The Untouched Marvel

Simatai Great Wall, located 120 km northeast of Beijing, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its steep climbs and stunning views.

Unlike other sections, it’s largely untouched by restoration efforts, preserving its natural beauty. It’s also challenging to access.

What to Expect

Simatai Great Wall features steep stairs and narrow pathways, making it a challenging section to explore.

However, its stunning views and authentic atmosphere makes it worthwhile.

Note that it’s currently closed for renovations, but worth considering for future travel plans.

Jiankou: For the Bold Explorer

Jiankou Great Wall is known for its rugged and wild terrain and is one of the least restored sections of the Great Wall.

It is located approximately 73 km north of Beijing and attracts adventurous travelers looking for a unique experience.

What to Expect

Jiankou Great Wall is not for the faint of heart, and visitors should expect steep climbs and narrow pathways.

It is not recommended for inexperienced hikers or those with mobility issues.

However, the section’s unique and natural beauty makes it a popular destination for adventurous

Planning Your Adventure

When planning a Great Wall trip, consider which section to visit based on interests and preferences.

Also, factor in the time of year. Spring and autumn are mild with fewer crowds, while summer is hot and winter is cold.

Best time to visit the Great Wall of China

The best time to visit the Great Wall of China is from March to May and September to November.

During these months, the weather is mild and comfortable for outdoor activities, and the crowds are smaller than during the peak summer season.

Check out the post “The Ultimate Guide: Best Time to Visit the Great Wall of China” for more insight.

What to pack when walking the Great Wall of China

When walking the Great Wall of China, it’s essential to pack appropriate clothing and gear.

Comfortable hiking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are a must. It’s also a good idea to bring a small backpack with water, snacks, and any necessary medication.

Where to stay in Beijing

If you plan to visit the Great Wall, Beijing is the best place to stay. There are many options for accommodation, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels.

Some popular areas to stay in include the Dongcheng and Xicheng districts, which are close to many of the city’s top attractions.

Check out “Stay in Style: The Best Locations to Stay in Beijing” for all your accommodation needs.

Food and Drink

It is recommended to carry two or three bottles of water for 4-5 hours of hiking. It is also advisable to carry nuts and dried fruits for quick snacks to maintain energy levels.

Breakfast

Breakfast is an essential meal for hikers as it provides the energy needed to start the hike.

Before embarking on the hike, hikers should have a hearty breakfast at their hotel consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.

Oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and whole-grain toast are some of the recommended breakfast options for hikers

Lunch

Lunch is an essential meal for hikers as it provides the energy needed to continue hiking.

We usually have Chinese-style lunch near Jinshanling after the hike, such as fried chicken, pork, vegetable, and rice.

Dinner

Dinner is an essential meal for hikers as it provides the energy needed to recover from the day’s hike.

For dinner, hikers should carry foods that are high in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.

Pasta, rice, and beans are some of the recommended dinner options for hikers.

Snacks

Snacks are essential for hikers as they provide quick energy boosts to maintain energy levels throughout the hike.

Nuts, energy bars, and dried fruits are some of the recommended snack options for hikers.

Drinks

Water is the most important drink for hikers as it keeps the body hydrated throughout the hike.

Hikers should carry enough water to sustain them throughout the hike.

Electrolyte drinks and sports drinks are also recommended to replenish lost electrolytes and energy.

Nature and Safety

Animals and Plants on the Trail

Hikers on the Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall Trail may encounter various animals and plants.

It is essential to avoid contact with animals and plants that may be dangerous, such as snakes and poison ivy.

Wild boars are among the wildlife hikers should be aware of, but there’s no need to worry too much, as they are more commonly seen in the evening than during the day.

Staying Safe and Healthy on the Trail

Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear to protect themselves from the sun, wind, and rough terrain.

It is also recommended to carry insect repellent and sunscreen in summer.

Hikers should also stay on the designated trail and avoid shortcuts, which may be dangerous and damage the environment.

Additional Tips for First-time Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall Day Hike

For first-time Gubeikou – Jinshanling Great Wall Day Hikers, it is essential to start the hike early in the morning to avoid the midday heat.

Hikers should also carry enough food and water to sustain them throughout the hike.

To ensure a safe hiking experience, it is highly recommended to hike with a guide or take a self-guided tour led by a local farmer to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall.

It is also important to inform someone of your hiking plans and expected return time.

FAQs

Q: How long does the Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike take?

A: The hike typically takes around 4-6 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the specific route you take.

Q: Is it necessary to have a guide for the Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike?

A:  Due to the military zone located between Gubeikou and Jinshanling, it is highly recommended to be led by a guide or a local villager for safety reasons.

If you are not experienced in hiking in this area, a guide can offer valuable insights and ensure you stay on the correct path.

They can also share information about the local history and culture, as well as the best viewpoints and photography spots along the way.

Q: From the 24th tower is there a clear path to the road down below? If so, isn’t there a clearer path from the road to get back up to the wall and continue towards Jinshanling?

A: The hilly trail between 24 Window Tower and Jinshanling is hard to follow due to the overgrown cornfield. While there are some signs and arrows left by the Great Wall Marathon organizers, first-timers may easily get lost. For safety reasons, it is recommended to hire a guide or a local villager to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Q: What is the difficulty level of the Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike?

A: The hike is considered moderate in difficulty, with some steep and uneven sections. It is important to wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water and snacks.

Q: Are there any restrooms or facilities along the Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike route?

A: There are limited restroom facilities along the route, so it is important to plan accordingly. It is also recommended to bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Check out “How to Pee While Hiking the Great Wall of China” for more tips.

Q: Can I bring my own food and water for the Gubeikou-Jinshanling day hike?

A: While you can bring your own food and water for the hike, there are also many restaurants at Jinshanling available for a meal after the hike.

It’s recommended to pack enough water and high-energy snacks to keep you fueled throughout the day.

Q: Is it safe to hike the Gubeikou – Jinshanling trail?
A: Yes, the trail is well-marked and well-maintained, and it is generally safe to hike.

However, make sure to wear appropriate shoes and clothing and bring enough water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and energized.

Q: What are some of the highlights of the Gubeikou – Jinshanling hike?
A: Some of the highlights of the hike include the famous 24-Eyes Watchtower, the General Tower, and the West Five Window Tower, as well as stunning views of the Great Wall, the surrounding landscapes, and the countryside.

Conclusion

The Gubeikou – Jinshanling day hike is an unforgettable experience that offers stunning views of the Great Wall and the surrounding landscapes.

By following the tips and recommendations provided in this guide, you can make the most of your hike and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Remember to wear appropriate clothing and shoes, bring plenty of water and snacks, and carry all the necessary essentials.

Are you captivated by the idea of exploring the majestic Gubeikou & Jinshanling Great Wall and the breathtaking landscapes that surround it?

Immerse yourself in our informative and engaging articles, designed to guide and inspire your adventure:

Ricky

11 Responses to “Gubeikou – Jinshanling Day Hike, The Complete Guide for Beginners in 2024”

  1. Martin Stead

    Hi Ricky, thanks for the great insights. A couple of questions: 1) I wanted to check if you know whether the walk is currently possible? I heard some of it might be closed? I plan to hike there around 8th/9th February. 2) Is the hiking part, “the hilly trail near the military zone (roughly a 1-hour walk)” easy to follow? Will we need a map? Thanks for your help! Martin Stead (UK)

    • Ricky

      Hi Martin,
      The Gubeikou Great Wall is open all year, so you’re good to go for your hike on 8th/9th February. But just so you know, starting December 1st, the West Gate of Jinshanling (Taochunkou) is taking a break and will be closed until mid-March 2024. So, when you hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling, you won’t be able to access the Jinshanling part of the Wall. Instead, you’ll follow a hilly trail to the main gate of Jinshanling. It’s a different but still exciting route!

      About the hilly trail near the military zone, it’s a bit tricky to follow, especially if it’s your first time. The trees on both sides of the trail were marked with red ribbons for a marathon race last October. If those ribbons are still there, they’ll help guide you through the military zone. If not, it might be a bit challenging to find your way. Having a map could be really handy.

      Hope this helps, and have an amazing hike!

  2. Adam

    hello Ricky, just to confirm your previous comments. I will not be able to walk on the wall at Jinshanling? I will get through Gubeikou fine and then I will have to go off the wall and trek through a hilly pass to get to the gate at Jinshanling?

    • Ricky

      You’ve got it exactly right! Starting December 1st, the West Gate of Jinshanling (Taochunkou) is going on a little holiday and will be closed until mid-March 2024. So, after exploring Gubeikou, you’ll indeed have an adventurous detour off the wall, trekking through a scenic hilly pass to reach the gate at Jinshanling.

  3. Hi, maybe I missed something but I didn’t understand how the easiest way to return to Gubeikou after finishing the trek in Jinshanling?
    What are the options?
    Thanks!

    • Ricky

      Thank you for reaching out with your question! After finishing your trek at Jinshanling, the easiest way to return to Gubeikou is to hire a local villager’s taxi at the Jinshanling main gate.

      They know the area well and can safely take you back to Gubeikou.

      This method is straightforward and saves you the hassle of navigating back on your own.

  4. Nihao! Thanks for your helpful article which helped me a lot to plan my hike from Gubeikou to Janshiangling on Tuesday. So excited!
    I tried to book tickets for the s501 train through trip.com, but it shows “no seats” and other platforms say “standing only” but in neither way is it possible to book a ticket. First I thought that the early train on Tuesday is booked out, unfortunately, but then I found out that it’s not possible to book tickets regardless of date, time and direction. The app always shows “no seats”. Is this normal…? Is the train so well traveled that it sells out as soon as it is possible to make a reservation? Or should I try and get a ticket at the train station (I’m not in Beijing yet)? Thanks in advance! Isa

    • Ricky

      I’m thrilled to hear the article was helpful for your hiking plans from Gubeikou to Jinshanling – it’s going to be an amazing adventure!

      Regarding the s501 train ticket issue, it sounds like a technical glitch rather than the train being fully booked, especially since it’s happening for various dates and times. It’s not typical for tickets to sell out that quickly for all options. My suggestion is to try purchasing a ticket directly at the train station once you arrive in Beijing. Often, there are tickets reserved for station sales that aren’t available online, and you might also find more flexibility and assistance in person to navigate any booking challenges.

      Enjoy your hike, and if you have any more questions or need further advice, feel free to ask! Ricky

      • Thank you so much for your reply. I will try to get a ticket once I’m there and if I’m not too overwhelmed and exited by Chinese travel life I will leave an update:-)

    • Ricky

      If you walk from Gubeikou town towards Simatai, the endpoint you can reach is Jinshanling East Gate. This is a great spot to finish your walk and has some beautiful views!

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