The weather is starting to cool, which makes it a great time to get out for a day of hiking on the Great Wall. Unfortunately, new renovations at Hefangkou and continuing work at Simatai are hampering choice, but there are plenty of other options in and around Beijing where you can stretch your legs, whether you want a piece of the Wall (so to speak) or simply want to expand your horizons.
If you’re looking for a group to take you hiking around Beijing – and not just to the Wall – check out the following groups:
Treks go out Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The cost of each trip includes transportation, food, water and a handful of guides per group. All hikers are rated for difficulty on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the hardest). The Beijing Hikers also organize weekend and week-long adventure trips around China to places like Yunnan, Xinjiang, and Zhangye.
Day hikes are available through the week; overnight hikes are offered most weekends. Dandelion also offers cycling trips at the Wall, excursions that last from one to four days. They also organize cultural trips within the city as well as longer excursions around China.
CNA Hiking Club
Hikes take place every Saturday. The cost covers any fees and transportation (but not lunch). CNA offers only day hikes, but their groups are small enough that you can expect to recognize familiar faces each week.
Great Wall Adventure Club
Serious hiking enthusiasts should check out this group. Their Wall treks range from day trips to 12-day itineraries. The American and Chinese based Club also offers trips around China, including Tibetan tours to Everest Base Camp.
Looking to stay closer to Beijing? Beijing’s Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP) has released a selection of heritage trails in the city, starting with Yonghegong and Gulou. If you’re the type of person who hasn’t ventured much beyond Sanlitun, try out CHP’s walks to expand your view of the city.
Anyone who’s been here long enough may consider the hutongs of Yonghegong and Gulou to be well-worn paths … so how about adding a twist to your walks? Check out the Beijinger‘s August issue for a list of art walks. You can re-immerse yourself in familiar neighborhoods and see them with new eyes – or check out some artsy neighborhoods that are a little further-flung.
For more suggestions and a few tips on how to hike sustainably, check out "Happy Trails: Tips for Responsible Rambling" from the Beijinger‘s July 2010 issue, available online here.
This article is excerpted from thebeijinger.com.