How Fit You Need to be to Hike Jiankou to Mutianyu
Hiking from the most photographed Jiankou (Zhengbeikou) to the fully restored Mutianyu is a popular Great Wall hiking route.
As an unrestored section, Jiankou Great Wall remains half-ruined, wild and untouched. It has a wild beauty and ruggedness that cannot be described unless you visit it.
Mutianyu is more tourist-friendly, fully restored, with excellent facilities like a cable car, toboggan, chairlift.
Hiking the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu is an unforgettable experience. One of the benefits of hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu is that you do not need to go down the same way you went up.
The best way to enjoy the picturesque Jiankou and Mutianyu, one of the most beautiful sections of the Great Wall, is on one of our hiking tours.
Our experienced guides know all the right way to walk in the magnificent views. Along the way, they will provide you with informative commentary about the region, its history, and its natural surroundings.
Before you start your hike check the Huairou (A town closes to Jiankou & Mutianyu) Weather Forecast – if high winds, heavy rain/snow or low cloud is predicted then postpone your hike for another day.
From the Beginning…
Start/Finish: Xizhazi village – Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) –Ox Horn Edge– Mutianyu. The starting point for hiking Jiankou is a small village called Xizhazi. Before you start hiking the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu, make sure you are properly prepared. The most important item is a good pair of hiking boots or walking shoes. Running shoes or trainers are not suitable footwear for this path as it can become very slippery when wet.
Tip: Take a camera with you and start snapping those breathtaking views as you go up! You’ll be able to take some beautiful shots as the clouds move over the mountains.
Xizhazi Village to Zhengbeilou Tower:
If you are moderately fit, climbing to reach Zhengbeilou is definitely within your reach.
The normal time taken to climb to Zhengbeilou tower by the tourist path is an hour, although the initial trail from Xizhazi is a little bit hard to follow with not much of infrastructure.
If you’re feeling tired after the strenuous climb up, sit down a while inside Zhengbeilou, take a break, explore the ruins of the tower. You may find you need to take shelter in the tower on a rainy day.
Zhengbeikou to Ox Horn Edge:
After the initial steepness, the path winds up the mountain, with some loose bricks and stones, and no steep slopes along the way, presenting you with different views and photo opportunities.
You can easily hike from Zhengbeikou to Ox Horn Edge with several deserted watch towers for you to explore.
Serious and experienced mountain walkers may want to climb up Ox Horn Edge, but most would better to avoid it, particularly when the weather is wet or in winter, for the reasons of the safety.
In summer the bushes at Ox Horn Edge may push you over the side, then you have to walk along the very edge, quite high above the ground.
Steep slopes with loose bricks and stones also add the difficulty of your climb. Climbing up Ox Horn Edge (reaching the highest tower then walk down) usually takes 1 hour in spring or 1.5 hours in summer.
Coming down from Mutianyu won’t require as much stamina as going up, but it is still very hard on your legs.
Mutianyu is fully restored, with many stairs, some are quite steep. For most people the worst part Mutianyu is to walk down from tower 20 to 19.
The section between the two towers is 70 to 80 degrees in height with more than 440 vertical steps.
If you are the step master, this is the right place for you. If you have hip, ankles or knee issues be sure to watch the steps.
If you are unused to hill walking, by the time you’re at the bottom of Mutianyu, you will probably be feeling every stone on the path through the soles of your boots, and will be very pleased that you invested in a good pair!
How Long Does The Hike Take?
It depends on all sorts of things, from the fitness of the individuals involved, whether the individuals are talkative and thus (usually) walking slower, how often people require rest breaks, how long those rest breaks are, weather conditions and so on.
Most first-time Jiankou hikers walk uphill via Xizhazi village at an average speed of 2.3km per hour.
The entire hike normally takes between 4 and 5 hours with some breaks regardless of individual fitness, age and/or length of stride.
More experienced hikers that know their speed, ability and fitness can have a rule of thumb for themselves based on weather, terrain and so on, but this varies again from person to person.
The majority of Jiankou hikers are here for the first time, this hike is suitable for all age groups with average fitness. Children under ten to senior citizens, have successfully hiked from Jiankou towards Mutianyu. The difficulty of the hike a moderate, with some elevation changes. You don’t need ropes or climbing gear. No previous hiking / backpacking experience is required. However, weather conditions can make the hike a lot tougher than what you have expected. For example, in hot summer, you will feel much more difficult due to the heat and humidity. Mental attitude and adequate water consumption are the two most important factors in the success of Jiankou to Mutianyu hike. In winter, frozen snow and ice make the Wall difficult to walk through.
Don’t plan on doing anything very strenuous that evening or the next day – your legs won’t let you. Depending on your level of fitness and how used to walking up and down steep slopes you are, you may find it takes a few days before you can easily tackle even the gentlest of inclines again.
Hiking from Mutianyu to Jiankou, is it Possible?
It’s quite possible but most people do it the other way around. Walking from Jiankou to Muitanyu is much easier /safer for most first Great Wall hikers. The trails at wild Jiankou is hard to follow. Plants, grasses and large bushes grow here leaving only small paths to walk through. Starting out at Jiankou will leave the hard part behind once reaching the top.
Mutianyu is more tourist friendly with cable car/chair lift options available. After a few hours of hiking on the rugged terrain from Jiankou, you arrive at Mutianyu, which makes for a much easier walk. If you are too tired to walk down, just hop on the cable car or zoom down in a toboggan.
The entire hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu covers 3 – 5 hours, over approx 8 km. 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. The scenic hike is suitable for moderately fit first time Great Wall visitors. It’s worth leaving your footprints over there.
Admission fees for Jiankou / Mutianyu is RMB 20 / 60, 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 the Hike
The novice walkers should not attempt to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu in January, February, or during bad or cloudy weather. Spring summer and fall will offer the best views. Winter could be dangerous due to frozen snow and ice. Avoid to go when it is raining/snowing.
Why did You Hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu?
The Great Wall of China is there to be conquered, and inspires people every year to make it to the top. For every person who climbs the Great Wall of China they’ve achieved a personal challenge.
One such person is Laura Wilson, who hiked from Jiankou to Mutianyu in winter. Read her story by here – Beijing and The Great Wall. It’s also a brilliant guide to the walk.
If you haven’t yet read about the history of the Jiankou check out Jiankou Facts.