Beijing Bucket List: Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall

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Huanghuacheng Lakeside Great Wall (北京黄花城水长城) isn’t an ordinary hike of the world-famous attraction. It’s a retreat to the hustle and bustle of crowded and polluted Beijing. And for those who have already gone to the more “touristy” Great Wall sections like Mutianyu and Badaling, Huanghuacheng is an amazing sight without the usual crowds.

The Great Wall in Huanghuacheng

Last weekend, Foreigner China Network (WeChat: foreignerandchina) organized a trip to Huanghuacheng, in the northern Beijing district of Huairou. The journey took almost 1hr and 45min from our rendezvous at Huixinxijie subway Line 10 station, with about 20 minutes at a petrol station for a quick stop.

When we got off the bus, we entered a small village with some convenience stores and restaurants (closed when we arrived) to the main entrance. Not surprisingly, our group of about 30 people was among the few that visited the area.

Birds-eye view of the small village near Huanghuacheng Great Wall

We started climbing the western side of the wall, near the broken end by the dam. From thereon, the trek was full of high steps and steep descents, but it was enjoyable as we were the only people there. Our group was composed of people from different nations; there was a Cuban couple who visited their daughter in Beijing. Some hikers I met were from Mongolia, Egypt, Nepal, and Pakistan.

The hike, I must say, is quite difficult but rewarding. One of the must-see spots is the “submerged” part of the wall near the lake (which was probably caused by the dam). The lake was so frozen that in some parts you could see how thick the ice was. It was not possible, however, to see the bricks beneath the ice. After indulging in that spot, we went to the “sand beach” or the lake coastline through a bridge, The beach is the entry to a forest at the feet of one of the mountains. The flat plains from the beach to the forest are in many ways an area where one can relax, but be prepared as the way up to one of the highest Great Wall towers is very hard to climb.

The “submerged” part of the Great Wall, which was actually a broken section.

Once we got from one of the highest wall towers, this what we saw:

We took a 30-minute break at the top and ate our snacks. The way down back to the beach is equally difficult. But instead of taking the bridge route, we went to the frozen dam through the mountainside. This way is much easier and I recommend taking it for those bringing kids.

The whole hike lasted for a good 3 hours. As I said, it’s rewarding since you have the chance to talk with other hikers during the climb. The trip can be a short weekend escape and also an alternative to temple fairs this Lunar New Year. FCN regularly posts announcements of trips to Huanghuacheng via their WeChat (foreignerandchina).

Travel essentials/notes

  • An entrance ticket costs RMB 45 for adults and RMB 23 for students/children
  • Bring packed lunch and water as there are no open restaurants along the route.
  • Wear warm clothes and gloves
  • Mobile signal is pretty strong but low temperatures tend to drain mobile batteries fast

How to get there

  • By bus: From Ditie Shaoyaoujuzhan stop, aboard Bus 942 Rapido towards Chawu Huochezhan. Get off at Qiaozi station (after 25 stops, approximately 1hr 7min ride) then ride on Line H21 bus toward Xishuiyu for 1hr 35min. The terminus is Xishuiyu village and from there, walk about 800m to the entrance.
  • By car/driving: It is highly recommended to take a group trip to Huanghuacheng. FCN offers a day trip worth RMB 100 which covers the ride, a bottle of water, and an insurance for the one-day trip.

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