Explore Jiankou Great Wall: History, Facts, and How to Reach this Hidden Gem
Located in the mountains of Huairou County, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) north of Beijing, the Jiankou Great Wall is a section of the Great Wall that is known for its steep ridges and rugged terrain.
It is considered to be one of the most challenging sections of the wall to hike due to its steepness, disrepair, and wildness.
Jiankou’s History: Who Built It and When?
The Jiankou Great Wall has a rich history that dates back over 1000 years.
It was initially built during ancient times and was later rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by the order of the Ming Emperor, Wanli.
The reconstruction project was largely overseen by patriotic General Qijiguang and used natural materials such as local stones, bricks, and tamped earth.
During the Ming Dynasty, the Jiankou Great Wall served as a crucial military stronghold in defending against invasion from the north.
Its strategic location and the rugged terrain made it a key line of defense against invading forces.
Why Visit the Jiankou Great Wall? — Disrepair, Wildness, Beauty
Disrepair: The disrepair of the Jiankou Great Wall is what makes it a unique experience.
Visitors can see how the elements have weathered and eroded the walls over time, offering a glimpse into the ancient history of the wall.
Wildness: The wildness of the Jiankou Great Wall is what sets it apart from other sections of the wall.
The rugged terrain and steep ridges offer a challenging hike that is not for the faint of heart.
Visitors can experience the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Beauty: Despite its disrepair and wildness, the Jiankou Great Wall is a thing of beauty.
The natural materials used in its construction blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, creating a stunning visual display.
The sunsets and sunrises over the mountains offer a breathtaking view that is not to be missed.
The Jiankou Great Wall played a vital role in China’s history, particularly during the Ming Dynasty.
As one of the key military strongholds of the Great Wall, the Jiankou section played a crucial role in defending against invasions from the north.
Events and Battles That Took Place on the Jiankou Great Wall
The Jiankou Great Wall saw its fair share of battles and events throughout its history.
During the Ming Dynasty, the Great Wall was regularly patrolled by soldiers to defend against invasion from Mongol forces.
The Jiankou section was a crucial part of this defense, as it provided a strategic position for soldiers to monitor and defend the surrounding areas.
In 1644, the Ming Dynasty fell to the Qing Dynasty, and the Great Wall was no longer needed for defense.
The Role of the Jiankou Great Wall in China’s History
The Jiankou Great Wall served as a crucial defense mechanism during the Ming Dynasty and played a role in shaping China’s history.
Today, the Jiankou Great Wall stands as a reminder of China’s past and its ongoing commitment to preserving its cultural heritage.
What to See at Jiankou
The Jiankou Great Wall is divided into Back Jiankou (north side of Arrow Nock) and Front Jiankou (south side of Arrow Nock) villagers.
It stretches from the Nine Eye Tower in the northwest to the North Sharp Tower (Zheng Bei Lou) in the southeast with 22 towers. Here are some of the must-see landmarks at the Jiankou Great Wall:
One of the most impressive sights on the Jiankou Great Wall is the Beijing Knot.
This incredible feat of engineering is where three different sections of the Great Wall converge, forming a knot-like structure that showcases the skill and craftsmanship of the ancient builders.
As I approached the knot, I could see that reaching the top would be a challenging feat.
The ascent requires the use of hands and footholds, and even the most experienced climbers should proceed with caution.
However, for those up for the challenge, the hike from Nine Eye Tower to Beijing Knot is a thrilling adventure that usually takes around 3-4 hours on foot.
Despite the risks, the reward of reaching the top and taking in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape is well worth the effort.
The Nine-Eye Tower
The Nine-Eye Tower is a remarkable watchtower on the Jiankou Great Wall, named after its unique design with nine holes resembling eyes.
Located on the highest point of the wall, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
As a prominent fortification, Nine-Eye Tower once served as the boundary between Huairou and Yanqing.
With three floors and nine windows on each side, it has become a popular tourist site.
Although some stairs have been added on the backside to enable visitors to climb up to the roof, the tower still retains its original appearance, offering a glimpse into the past.
Eagle Flies Facing Upward:
This is a section of the Jiankou Great Wall that is shaped like an eagle spreading its wings.
It is a breathtaking sight that offers a unique perspective on the beauty and majesty of the Great Wall.
The Sky Stair
The Sky Stair is a narrow and steep section of the Jiankou Great Wall that offers a thrilling hiking experience.
The breathtaking views from the top make the challenging ascent well worth the effort.
However, this area is not recommended for inexperienced climbers, as it requires a high level of skill and experience.
The stair-like outcropping has an angle of 70 to 80 degrees, making it extremely difficult to get a foothold.
The narrow stairs make it nearly impossible to maintain balance without professional climbing equipment.
Unfortunately, many people have been injured at the Sky Stairs, and some have lost their lives.
This section of the Jiankou Great Wall is best left to experienced mountain climbers.
This section of the Jiankou Great Wall is known for its rugged terrain and disrepair, offering a raw and authentic experience of the Great Wall.
It is a must-see for adventurous visitors looking to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Located at the northern end of the Jiankou Great Wall, Zhengbei Tower is one of the largest watchtowers in the area.
Standing at 991 meters, it offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for photography enthusiasts.
Many beautiful pictures of Jiankou in guidebooks, videos, and magazines are taken from Zhengbei Tower.
Ox Horn Edge:
Eastwards from Zhengbei Tower lies the Ox Horn Edge, the highest point of which is 1,044m.
The slopes here are steep and feature loose bricks and stones, making it dangerous for inexperienced hikers. It is best to avoid this area for safety reasons.
Once a wasteland, Xizhazi village has only 180 families and a population of 400 in the face of China’s rapid modernization.
The initial trail from Xizhazi to Zhengbeikou can be challenging, as plants, grasses, and large bushes grow along the path, leaving only narrow paths to walk through.
However, for those up for the challenge, Xizhazi village offers a unique perspective on life in rural China and a glimpse into the area’s history.
Hiking Jiankou Great Wall
Hiking the Jiankou Great Wall is an adventure of a lifetime, offering breathtaking views and an opportunity to explore the ancient marvels of Chinese engineering.
Jiankou to Mutianyu Hiking — A Popular Great Wall Hiking Route
For those who love trekking through the wilderness, a day trip walking from Jiankou (Zhengbeikou) to Mutianyu is perfect.
The variety of landscapes will astound you, from Jiankou basins to crumbling ruined walls, mountainous peaks, and sheer rock faces.
Start / Finish: Xizhazi village – Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) – Mutianyu. The starting point for hiking Jiankou is a small village called Xizhazi.
Public transport is NOT available to Xizhazi from Beijing. A quicker and easier option is to hire a taxi or arrange private vehicle transport from Beijing, which generally takes about 2 hours to reach Jiankou.
Route / Conditions: There are several different ways to get to Zhengbeikou.
Climbing up from the north side is much easier although it takes a longer time to get there.
Climbing up from the south side is much longer and steeper, although it’s easier to reach the south side from Beijing.
Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km) Avg.
Time: 4-5 hours
Season: Jiankou can be visited all year round. Spring and fall offer the best weather conditions.
Winter can also bring clear skies, but frozen snow and ice can make the hike difficult.
Summer can be hot and hazy.
Admission fees: The admission fee needs to be paid at either Jiankou or Mutianyu.
Challenges and Dangers of The Hiking
Hiking on the Jiankou Great Wall is not for the faint of heart, as it comes with its own set of challenges and dangers.
The rugged terrain and steep inclines can be daunting for inexperienced hikers, and the disrepair of some sections of the wall only adds to the difficulty.
Tips for Staying Safe While Hiking
To stay safe while hiking on the Jiankou Great Wall, it is essential to be prepared and take the necessary precautions.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes with good traction, as the ground can be uneven and slippery in some areas.
2. Bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are limited options for food and drink along the trail.
3. Use sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun, as there is little shade on the wall.
4. Stay on designated trails and avoid climbing on damaged or unstable sections of the wall.
5. Hike with a guide or in a group, as the remote location and rugged terrain can make it easy to get lost or injured.
6. Be mindful of your own physical abilities and limitations, and take breaks when necessary to avoid exhaustion or injury.
Despite the challenges and dangers, hiking the Jiankou Great Wall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is well worth the effort.
With proper preparation and caution, you can safely explore this ancient wonder and create unforgettable memories.
Photography and Sightseeing
For hiking and photography enthusiasts, the Jiankou Great Wall is a dream destination, with breathtaking vistas and dramatic terrain that make for stunning photos.
Best Photography and Sightseeing Spots
Here are some of the best spots for photography and sightseeing on the Jiankou Great Wall:
Nine-Eye Tower: This iconic watchtower offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the unique design of nine holes that resemble eyes makes for a great photo opportunity.
Beijing Knot: The meeting point of three different sections of the Great Wall creates a knot-like structure that showcases the skill and craftsmanship of ancient builders.
The narrow passageways and steep inclines make for a challenging but rewarding hike, and the views from the top are well worth the effort.
Sky Stair: This steep and narrow section of the Great Wall offers a thrilling hiking experience and spectacular views from the top.
However, it is not for the faint of heart and requires a high level of physical fitness and experience in hiking.
Jiankou Spot: This rugged and disrepair section of the Great Wall offers a raw and authentic experience of the wall and is a must-see for those looking for adventure and unique photo opportunities.
Tips for Taking Great Photos
To take great photos on the Jiankou Great Wall, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive views and intricate details of the wall.
Experiment with different angles and perspectives to create unique and interesting shots.
Use the natural light to your advantage, whether it is the soft glow of sunrise or the warm hues of sunset.
Incorporate elements of the surrounding landscape, such as the mountains and valleys, to add depth and context to your photos.
Be patient and take your time to explore the wall and find the perfect shot.
Best Times for Photography and Sightseeing
The best times for photography and sightseeing on the Jiankou Great Wall are during the spring and autumn months, when the weather is mild and the scenery is at its most picturesque.
However, each season offers its own unique beauty and charm, so any time of year can be a great time to visit.
The weather conditions on the Jiankou Great Wall can vary greatly depending on the season, with extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns.
Here’s what you need to know about the weather on the Jiankou Great Wall:
In the spring (March-May), temperatures are mild and pleasant, with occasional rainfall. The scenery is lush and green, making it a great time for photography and sightseeing.
In the summer (June-August), temperatures can soar to over 30°C (86°F), with high humidity and occasional thunderstorms. It’s important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
In the autumn (September-November), temperatures are cooler and more comfortable, with clear skies and colorful foliage. This is the best time for hiking and trekking on the Jiankou Great Wall.
In the winter (December-February), temperatures can drop below freezing, with occasional snow and icy conditions. It’s important to dress warmly and wear proper footwear to avoid slips and falls.
Best times to visit the Jiankou Great Wall
The best times to visit the Jiankou Great Wall are in the spring and autumn months when the weather is mild and the scenery is at its most picturesque.
However, each season offers its own unique beauty and charm, so any time of year can be a great time to visit, depending on your interests and preferences.
Recommended accommodation options for different budgets include:
Budget travelers can find several affordable guesthouses in Xizhazi village.
These guesthouses are often run by local families who live on the premises and offer basic accommodations.
The rooms typically include air conditioning, hot water showers, private toilets, and a TV, and are usually furnished with two single beds.
While these guesthouses may be simple and basic, they offer a unique and authentic experience of village life near the Jiankou Great Wall.
For travelers looking for mid-range accommodations, two great options are Bakegongshe (巴克公社) and Shanba (山吧).
These hotels offer comfortable rooms and stunning views at reasonable prices, making them a popular choice for those seeking a more comfortable stay near the Jiankou Great Wall.
Getting to Jiankou Great Wall
Getting to the Jiankou Great Wall from Beijing is not so hard and can be done by private car or public transportation.
The private car is the fastest and most comfortable option, while taking a bus is a more affordable but time-consuming choice.
By Private Car – Fast & Comfortable
If traveling by private car, the journey from Beijing to Jiankou takes around 2.5 -3 hours and offers the flexibility to stop at other scenic spots along the way.
By Bus – at least 3.5 hours
Jiankou Great Wall is located approximately 70 kilometers northeast of Beijing. For those taking public transportation, buses from Beijing to Jiankou take at least 3.5 – 4 hours, but offer a more budget-friendly option.
To get there, take Bus No.916 at Dongzhimen, and get off at North Street close to a roundabout, then negotiate with minivan drivers for a 150-200RMB round trip to Jiankou.
Alternatively, at North street station, hire a taxi to Yujiayuan bus station (10 minutes on road), where you can take bus H25 to Xizhazi village of Jianou.
Keep in mind that bus H25 leaves at 11:30 and 16:30 from Yujiayuan of Huairou. On the return journey, bus H25 leaves at 06:00, and 13:15 from Xizhazi village of Jiankou.
Bus from Mutianyu to Jiankou
Alternatively, visitors can take a bus from Mutianyu to Jiankou, which takes around 3 – 4 hours.
However, it can be challenging for first-time visitors to find the station to change buses.
Due to the lack of flexibility and control over transportation options, it is not recommended for hikers and adventurers.
In conclusion, the Jiankou Great Wall offers an unforgettable experience for hikers, adventurers, and photography enthusiasts.
With its stunning scenery, rich history, and challenging terrain, it is truly a gem among the various sections of the Great Wall.
Whether you are a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, a trip to the Jiankou Great Wall is sure to be an unforgettable adventure.
Planning a trip to the Jiankou Great Wall or its surroundings? Explore our informative posts for helpful tips:
- How Difficult it is to Hike From Jiankou (Zhengbeilou) to Mutianyu
- Compare Hikes: Jinshanling-East Gate Hike VS. Jiankou-Mutianyu Hike
- Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Mutianyu Great Wall (+ 6 FAQs)
- 5 Reasons Why Mutianyu Great Wall is the Best Destination for a Family Trip
- Mutianyu Great Wall Vs Badaling Great Wall – Which to Choose?
In the map below: (A) = Tian’anmen, Beijing. (B) = Xizhazi village at Jiankou.