How Difficult It Is to Hike From Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu

The sun sets fiery red behind a watchtower at the Jiankou section of the Great Wall of China.

How Difficult it is to Hike From Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu

Embark on the Ultimate Challenge: The Jiankou to Mutianyu Hike

Have you ever thought about doing something different, like hiking from Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu on the Great Wall of China?

It’s a walk filled with lots of history and beautiful views.

But just how difficult is this unique adventure?

In this blog post, we’ll talk about how hard this hike can be. We’ll look at the ups and downs you might face on this old, winding trail.

After reading, you’ll know if this challenging walk is right for you.

The Difficulty of Jiankou to Mutianyu Hike is Moderate

Jiankou, while attracting many first-time hikers, is suitable for a broad range of age groups possessing average fitness levels.

From children under ten to senior citizens, many have successfully accomplished the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu.

The difficulty level of this hike is moderate, characterized by some changes in elevation, and doesn’t necessitate any ropes or specialized climbing equipment.

Moreover, previous hiking or backpacking experience isn’t a requirement.

However, weather conditions can significantly affect the hike’s difficulty.

For instance, the heat and humidity during the summer can make the journey considerably more challenging.

Therefore, maintaining a positive mental attitude and ensuring adequate hydration are critical factors contributing to a successful Jiankou to Mutianyu hike.

In winter, the frozen snow and ice render the Wall more difficult to traverse.

Post-hike, it’s advisable not to schedule any strenuous activities for that evening or the following day, as your legs may require rest.

Depending on your fitness level and your familiarity with navigating steep slopes, it might take a few days before you’re ready to comfortably tackle even the gentlest inclines again.

Jiankou Mutianyu Great Wall hiking map_副本

How Difficult it is to Hike From Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu

From the Beginning…

The Journey Begins: From Xizhazi Village to Jiankou (Zhengbeilou), Ox Horn Edge, and Finally Mutianyu

The exciting journey of hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu begins at a quaint and tranquil spot known as Xizhazi village.

This little hamlet, nestled amidst nature’s bounty, serves as the starting point for this memorable hike along the Great Wall of China.

Before you embark on the trail, it’s essential to equip yourself adequately for the adventure ahead.

The most crucial item to consider is a sturdy pair of hiking boots or quality walking shoes.

The path from Jiankou to Mutianyu can often become slippery, particularly when damp or wet.

Therefore, it’s not advisable to wear running shoes or trainers as they might not provide the necessary grip and stability.

In addition to the appropriate footwear, it’s also worth packing a camera.

As you ascend the Great Wall, you’ll be presented with panoramic views that are nothing short of breathtaking.

The rolling clouds over the verdant mountain landscape provide a picture-perfect backdrop that deserves to be captured.

These photos will not only serve as a testament to your adventure but also remind you of the stunning natural beauty you witnessed along the journey.

Remember, preparation is key for a successful and enjoyable hike.

With the right gear and mindset, you’re ready to conquer the trail from Jiankou to Mutianyu.

So, lace up your boots, grab your camera, and let’s get started on this awe-inspiring journey!

The Adventure Unfolds: From Xizhazi Village to Zhengbeilou Tower

If you have a moderate level of fitness, embarking on the climb to reach the Zhengbeilou Tower is a very achievable goal.

The journey up is not only a physical endeavor but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history and stunning landscapes that the Great Wall offers.

Typically, tourists take around an hour to climb to Zhengbeilou Tower using the established path.

However, be aware that the initial trail leading from Xizhazi can be somewhat challenging to follow due to its underdeveloped infrastructure.

Nonetheless, with a keen eye and a bit of patience, you’ll find your way and the trek will be well worth the effort.

Once you’ve completed the strenuous climb, reward yourself with a rest inside the intriguing Zhengbeilou Tower.

Here, you can catch your breath, admire the architectural remnants, and immerse yourself in the tower’s historical significance.

It’s the perfect spot to take a break and re-energize before continuing your journey.

On a rainy day, the tower also provides an ideal shelter where you can pause and wait out the weather.

This climb from Xizhazi Village to Zhengbeilou Tower, while demanding, is an essential part of the journey from Jiankou to Mutianyu.

The sense of accomplishment once you’ve reached the top and the views you’ll witness along the way make this section of the hike a truly remarkable experience.

The Journey Continues: From Zhengbeikou to Ox Horn Edge

SAMSUNG CSCHaving conquered the initial steep climb, the path from Zhengbeikou meanders upwards, gently undulating over the mountainous terrain.

The trail, although scattered with loose bricks and stones, presents no severe slopes, instead offering a variety of awe-inspiring views and photographic opportunities.

The trek from Zhengbeikou to Ox Horn Edge is an intriguing one, with numerous abandoned watchtowers peppered along the way.

These deserted structures offer a unique window into the past, inviting exploration and sparking curiosity about their history.

However, if your hiking ambition leads you to the Ox Horn Edge, proceed with caution.

This climb is better suited for seasoned mountain hikers due to its challenges, and is best avoided, especially during wet weather or winter, to ensure safety.

In the summer months, the bushes at Ox Horn Edge can be overgrown, pushing you towards the side and necessitating a walk along a high, precarious edge.

The trail also becomes more arduous due to the steep slopes strewn with loose bricks and stones.

Navigating the Ox Horn Edge, which involves reaching the highest tower and then descending, can take about an hour in spring or up to 1.5 hours in summer.

This climb, though demanding, offers a sense of achievement and provides an exhilarating experience for those up for the challenge.


How Difficult it is to Hike From Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu

The Final Descent: Mutianyu Great Wall

As you commence your descent from Mutianyu, you’ll find it doesn’t demand as much stamina as the ascent.

However, it can be equally challenging, particularly on your legs, as navigating downhill terrain requires careful control and balance.

Mutianyu, in its fully restored glory, boasts many stairs, some of which are notably steep.

For many hikers, the most demanding part of this journey is the descent from tower 20 to tower 19.

This stretch is characteristically steep, with an incline of 70 to 80 degrees, and features over 440 vertical steps.

If you pride yourself on being a master of steps, this will be your playground.

However, if you have any issues with your hips, ankles, or knees, it’s crucial to exercise caution and take each step carefully.

For those unaccustomed to hill walking, by the time you reach the base of Mutianyu, every stone beneath your boots might make its presence felt.

But don’t worry, the discomfort will be short-lived, and you’ll soon find solace in knowing that your investment in a good pair of hiking boots has paid off.

The descent down Mutianyu marks the completion of your hike from Jiankou, a journey filled with challenges, history, and captivating views that will remain etched in your memory forever.

Ox Horn Edge

How Difficult it is to Hike From Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu

How Long Does The Hike Take?

The duration of the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu varies widely and depends on numerous factors.

These can include the fitness level of the hikers, how much they engage in conversation (which often slows the pace), the frequency and duration of rest breaks, and the prevailing weather conditions, among other things.

On average, first-time hikers embarking on the Jiankou trail via Xizhazi village tend to maintain a speed of about 2.3km per hour.

Given this pace, the entire hike, inclusive of breaks, generally takes between 4 and 5 hours to complete.

This is a rough estimate and applies irrespective of individual fitness levels, age, or stride length.

For those who are more experienced and familiar with their hiking pace and capabilities, they can develop their own rule of thumb.

This personal estimation would take into account factors such as weather conditions and terrain, but it will inevitably vary from person to person.

Therefore, while it’s useful to have a general idea of the time frame, it’s important to remember that the hike is not a race.

It’s about enjoying the journey, the stunning views, and the rich history that the Jiankou to Mutianyu trail offers.

Is it Possible to Hike from Mutianyu to Jiankou?

Mutianyu, China - January 17, 2015: tourists climbing the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China during winter. Mutianyu. Huairou District. Beijing. China.

While it’s certainly possible to hike from Mutianyu to Jiankou, most people opt for the opposite route.

This is because starting from Jiankou and heading towards Mutianyu is generally considered safer and easier for those experiencing the Great Wall for the first time.

Jiankou, in its wild, unrestored state, presents a more challenging path to navigate.

Overgrown plants, grasses, and large bushes often obscure the trail, leaving only narrow footpaths to traverse.

By starting at Jiankou, you’ll face the toughest part of the hike early on, leaving a more manageable trek for the rest of your journey.

In contrast, Mutianyu, with its fully restored sections and enhanced tourist-friendly infrastructure, provides a more relaxed and easier walk.

It offers convenient amenities such as a cable car and chair lift.

After several hours of navigating the rugged terrain of Jiankou, reaching Mutianyu feels like a welcome respite.

If fatigue sets in and the idea of descending on foot feels daunting, you have the option to take the cable car or enjoy a thrilling ride down the hill in a toboggan.

So, while a hike from Mutianyu to Jiankou is feasible, it’s worth considering the traditional route from Jiankou to Mutianyu for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Key Statistics and Information

Embarking on the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu, you can expect to cover approximately 8km over a span of 3 to 5 hours.

The journey begins at an elevation of 600m and concludes at 318m, with the highest point reaching 1,044m at the tower on Ox-Horn Ridge.

In terms of elevation change, you’ll ascend about 580m and descend around 980m.

The elevation of the notable Zhengbeilou tower is 991 meters or 3250 feet.

This hike offers a spectacular visual feast, with stunning views and ample spots for rest.

It’s not overly strenuous, making it a perfect choice for those seeking an adventurous yet manageable experience of the Wild Great Wall.

It’s especially suitable for moderately fit first-time Great Wall explorers, and certainly worth leaving your footprints.

Costs and Timing

The admission fees for the Jiankou and Mutianyu sections are RMB 20 and 60 respectively, payable at each point.

When planning your visit, allocate an entire day for this hike.

Depart early from Beijing, allowing at least 2 hours to reach Xizhazi village, 4-5 hours for the hike, and another 2 hours for the return journey to Beijing.

Best Time for the Hike

While the hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu is a remarkable experience year-round, novice walkers should avoid attempting it in January, February, or during unfavorable or cloudy weather.

Spring, summer, and fall typically offer the best views.

Winter can pose hazards due to frozen snow and ice, and it’s advisable to avoid the hike during rain or snow.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Jiankou section, be sure to check out our article titled “Jiankou Facts“.

Testimonials and Personal Experiences

Many hikers who have embarked on the journey from Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu can attest to the thrilling and challenging nature of the hike.

One hiker described it as “an exhilarating journey that brings you face to face with the magnificence of the Great Wall as well as its harsh, rugged terrain.”

A common theme among testimonials is the hike’s physical demands.

Several hikers have mentioned that the steep, uneven steps and the rocky, sometimes crumbling paths can be challenging, especially when negotiating the wall’s steeper sections.

However, they emphasize that the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the serenity of the less crowded sections of the Wall make the physical exertion worthwhile.

In terms of mental challenges, hikers often speak about the importance of perseverance, especially when fatigue starts to set in.

As one hiker stated, “There were moments when I was physically exhausted and thought about turning back. But the thought of reaching Mutianyu and standing on that part of the Great Wall kept me going.”

Hiking Alternatives and Variations

If you’re considering alternatives to the Jiankou to Mutianyu hike, there are several other sections of the Great Wall you might want to explore.

The Badaling section, for instance, is the most visited and best preserved, making it a more comfortable and less challenging option.

However, it is typically more crowded than Jiankou or Mutianyu.

The Jinshanling to Simatai West hike is another popular choice.

Similar to Jiankou, it offers breathtaking views and a sense of adventure, but is generally considered slightly less challenging.

You might also consider the Huanghuacheng section.

This unique area of the Wall is partially submerged in a lake, providing a distinct landscape and a moderately challenging hike.

In comparison, Jiankou is often described as the wilder and more difficult section due to its steep, rugged terrain and lack of restoration.

It is well-suited for adventurous hikers seeking a less crowded and more authentic Great Wall experience.


Q: How long does it typically take to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu?

A: The hike usually takes about 4 to 6 hours, depending on your pace and fitness level.

It’s a good idea to allow extra time for rest, photos, and to simply enjoy the scenery.

Q: Is the trail from Jiankou to Mutianyu well-marked?

A: The trail is not well-marked compared to more tourist-friendly sections of the Wall like Badaling.

The lack of clear signage adds to the challenge and adventure of this section.

It’s recommended to either hire a local guide or use a reliable GPS tool.

Q: What is the condition of the Jiankou section of the Wall?

A: The Jiankou section is known as the “Wild Wall” because it has not been restored and is in a more natural state.

This means that some parts can be quite rugged and uneven, with loose stones and steep steps, which adds to the difficulty of the hike.

Q: What is the best time of year to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu?

A: Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are generally the best times to hike this section of the Wall, due to mild temperatures and lower rainfall.

The summer can be quite hot, and the winter can make the trail icy and potentially dangerous.

Q: Is it safe to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu?

A: While the hike is challenging due to the steep and rugged terrain, it is generally safe for individuals who are in good physical condition and take proper precautions.

This includes wearing appropriate footwear, staying hydrated, and not rushing the hike.

However, due to its un-restored state, extra caution should be taken.

Summary and Conclusion

The Jiankou to Mutianyu hike is a challenging yet rewarding journey through one of the most spectacular sections of the Great Wall.

It presents an ideal opportunity for those seeking an adventurous hike, rich with history and natural beauty.

The physical challenges, while considerable, contribute to the overall sense of achievement upon completion.

The mental challenges of perseverance and determination add a further layer of personal growth to the experience.

Despite its challenges, or perhaps because of them, the Jiankou to Mutianyu hike remains a favorite among many hikers.

As one hiker put it, “It was hard, it was exhausting, but standing atop the Wall, looking out over the valleys, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment.

I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

Whether you choose Jiankou, or an alternative section of the Wall, the journey promises to be an unforgettable exploration of Chinese history, culture, and the stunning landscapes that have stood the test of time.

Considering a visit to Jiankou & Mutianyu Great Wall or nearby areas? Browse our informative posts for useful guidance:

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