Autumn in Beijing is one of the best times to get some outdoor activities before the bone chilling winter is upon us. Plan a few outdoor excursions to some hiking areas in the outskirts of the CBD and what better time than the golden week holidays? Check out the list below to find some good hiking destinations.
Shidu Nature Park 十渡风景区
Located on the banks of the Juma River, Shidu Nature Park is referred to as the “Guilin of the North” for its karst limestone features. Approximately 90km southwest of the city, Shidu has a number of mountains and trails to climb, and even provides boat rides and rafting down the Juma River. The area has forests with numerous kinds of birds, trees, grasses, and even wild grapes. Throughout the parks, there are ten du, or ports. Du 7, which is a popular spot, has a 1.5km path of stairs to ascend up the mountain and is known for its scenery. There’s also a 10km loop around the whole of Shidu park, but if you want to do the loop trail, go with someone with a good sense of direction, as the path isn’t clearly marked.
RMB 75. Daily 8am-5pm. Shidu Zhen, Fangshan District (6134 0009) 房山区十渡镇
Miaofeng Shan 妙峰山
If you don’t want to go too far to enjoy your nature trails, Miaofeng Shan is one of the closest mountains to Beijing. Only 55km west of the city, this scenic area in Mentougou District is famous for pilgrimage paths, which date back to the 17th century and lead to a mountaintop temple. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the 1,300m summit was one of the holiest locales in the region. There are four paths that lead up to Niangniang Miao, or the Goddess temple, and many come here to burn incense and pray for good fortune or wish for a son. The fourth month of the lunar calendar (April to May) is an ideal time to visit Miaofeng Shan, because that’s when the area holds its traditional temple fair, which features scores of traditional folk festivities. Another highlight, which occurs in May, is when Miaofeng Shan’s 10,000sqm rose plantations erupt in blooms. Be sure to bring a few extra layers, as Miaofeng Mountain is routinely 8℃ cooler than the city.
RMB 40. Daily 7am-5.30pm. Dajian Lu, Mentougou District (6188 2936) 门头沟区担涧路妙峰山风景名胜区
Bolster your Chinese history with a hike at Changyucheng, a famous military city from the Ming Dynasty. Five hundred years ago, the walled city was established for those manning the nearby Great Wall and one of its highest towers. Located in Changping District, Changyucheng is about 100km northwest of Beijing, and in addition to the old city walls, the old city itself has a shrine that is said to stymie cameras, and an enormous tree guarding a closed-but-renovated temple. The trailhead is at the base of the mountain, about 1.5km north of the village. Along the trail, there’s a reservoir, a section of the path called the Jungle Corridor, stone steps, a meadow, and a round stone mound, from which you can see the Great Wall. The path isn’t too arduous, but it can be a good four-hour roundtrip hike. If the family still has energy, it’s only a half hour more up to the watch tour, which reaches an altitude of about 1,400m.
Free. Daily 7am-7pm. Changyucheng Village, Changping District (8019 2955) 昌平区长峪城村
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This article first appeared in our April, 2013 issue written by Ellis Friedman.
Photo courtesy of Ralf Duering