To experience both original and restored portions of the Great Wall of China without straying far from Beijing, many visitors choose the stretch between Jinshanling and Simatai, a trek seemingly made for hikers and adventurers. The 4-hour hike ranks among the wall’s most popular and rewards intrepid travelers with some of the most photogenic views.
From Jinshanling, a six-mile (10-kilometer) stretch of largely unrestored wall leads to Simatai, where it's possible to take another steep, two-hour hike to and from a hilltop watchtower (there's also a cable car that heads most of the way up) or to continue on toward the Great Wall at Gubeikou. Visitors can choose between a small-group or private tour. Non-morning people can opt for a sunset visit to either the Simatai Great Wall or Jinshanling Great Wall, minus the hike.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This Great Wall section is a must for hikers, adventure travelers, and those who want to see old and new portions of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Most guided hikes between Jinshanling and the Simatai section include hotel pickup and drop-off in Beijing and lunch.
- Guided Great Wall hiking tours on this portion of the wall can last upwards of 10 hours.
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces and steep gradients, and bring plenty of bottled water.
How to Get There
This Great Wall hike starts at the Jinshanling section, 81 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Beijing. While most visitors arrive via guided tour, it’s possible to get to the starting point independently by catching the tourist bus from Wangjing West Station. The journey takes about two hours.
When to Get There
April, May, September, and October are ideal months for hiking thanks to moderate temperatures and the best scenery. The mountains around the wall are blanketed in apricot blossoms in April.
Jinshanling Great Wall Marathon
Travelers looking for a true physical test can take part in the Jinshanling Great Wall Marathon, hosted each April. This race, which also includes a half marathon and a 10K race, is one of five marathons held on the Great Wall.