Jiankou to Mutianyu | Trekking the Wild Wall of China

by Vanessa
Zhengbeilou Tower on the Jiankou to Mutianyu trek of the Great Wall of China - Jiankou to Mutianyu

Zhengbeilou Tower

Waking up in Beijing with butterflies in my tummy… I was FINALLY going to trek along the Great Wall of China, not only that, I was taking the Wild Wall route from Jiankou to Mutianyu!

The tour guide normally picks up from the hotel but the Bejing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel is nestled in the traditional hutongs and hard to get access so I met the group at Dongcheng subway, only a few blocks away. The drive to Xizhazi village takes around 2 hours.

JIANKOU TO MUTIANYU ROUTE


Xizhazi village to Zhengbeilou Tower

Our trek started at the Xizhazi village. You will pass a big blue sign that says ‘This section of the wall is not open to the public’ then 5 minutes later you pass another two signs that say “Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints. Keep the wall wild and wonderful” and “This is a strictly protected Great Wall landscape”. You will notice stones on the ground, they are burial spots on the village folk.

Trekking from Xizhazi village of China's Wild Wall trek

Photo: Leo, Beijing Walking Tours

After steep ascent through the snowy forest for one hour, we climbed onto the wall where the sun was shining across the expansive, breath-taking mountains. We headed to the top of our first unrestored tower to catch a better glimpse of the landscape of Jiankou, the views of the snake-like structure against the never-ending mountains are simply incredible.

Jiankou is a ‘wild’ and unrepaired section of the Great Wall. It was built on ridges with steep cliffs on each side, which makes it one of the most dangerous sections of the. Ming’s Wall.

Zhengbeilou Tower Views at the Wild Wall - Great Wall of China

Zhengbeilou Tower Views

Zhengbeilou Tower Views on the Jiankou to Mutianyu trek of the Wild Wall of China

Zhengbeilou Tower Views


Ox-horn edge challenge

We took the shortcut as it was the majority vote on the group tour but this sounds like the tricky part of the walk as the wall is totally destroyed. It’s a 30 minute detour and sounded like a fun challenge that I would’ve loved to have explored!

Jiankou Ox bow challenge at the Wild Wall of China

Jiankou Ox bow challenge

Jiankou tower at the Wild Wall of China

Jiankou tower


Walk to Mutianyu section of the Great Wall

The Lonely Planet hails the Jiankou section as the “granddaddy of wild Great Wall hikes” and I can see why! The 11km trek is a little strenuous as the path takes you through several crumbling watchtowers and pine forests before reaching Mutianyu, a restored section with a chairlift and a toboggan ride to the bottom.

We took the toboggan down the 1580m slide, it goes pretty fast. An exhilarating end to a wonderful trek! 

Toboggan ride at Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China

Toboggan ride at Mutianyu section


JIANKOU TO MUTIANYU: THE ESSENTIALS


Choose the right Great Wall tour for you

  • Most important, if you do not speak Chinese, check that the guide speaks English or any other language you understand.
  • Ensure the part of the Great Wall you wish to trek along suits your fitness ability.

Make travel insurance a priority!

Always make travel insurance a priority for any adventure! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home.  I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.


Beijing Walking Tours is the one!

I read a lot of reviews on Get Your Guide and Tripadvisor before I went to ensure the best experiences. The Wild Wall would be tricky to find so I used Leo from Beijing Walking Tours. He offers advice on his website on how to go it alone but I can’t recommend this guy enough! He was responsive on email before my trip, spoke great English, knowledgable about Chinese history…oh and he takes bad ass photos which he shares as great memory from seeing this epic UNESCO World Heritage site! 

The costs of this trek was 500 RMB ($72) and the toboggan was 100 RMB ($7) which included a hearty Chinese meal in a local restaurant before heading back to Beijing.


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18 comments

Emman Damian 19th June 2019 - 8:31 pm

I actually checked Bejing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel. It looks like a great place to stay. What a journey for you. I hope I can do this trekking path too soon. I’ll tell this to my friends who love trekking and hiking.

Reply
Vanessa 19th June 2019 - 9:56 pm

I loved this trek, the views are tremendous… Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel is a pretty cool place to stay too!

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Maggie 19th June 2019 - 10:58 pm

What a fun experience! Looks like the not so crowded section of the wall, all the photos I always see have thousands of people in the background. And you’re brave for hiking through the snow, cold weather is so not my thing!

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Vanessa 20th June 2019 - 8:29 am

There was only a little snow at the bottom but pretty much melted at the top, the views were worth it!

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Lisa 19th June 2019 - 11:09 pm

You’re such an adventurer Vanessa, I love it! I’ve yet to visit the great wall, let alone try to hike it, so this was a good post, with plenty of useful information too. I love that there’s a toboggan ride down, who’d have thought! I plan to visit one day, and see this incredible structure for myself.

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Vanessa 20th June 2019 - 8:30 am

It was a fantastic experience that I will remember for a long time to come!

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Leah 20th June 2019 - 1:05 am

Trekking the Great Wall of China is a bucket list item for me, so I loved reading your post! When I’ve imagined it, I didn’t imagine hiking in the snow, but that makes perfect sense! The Ox-horn edge challenge sounds like it would have been a really neat experience. Thanks for sharing- I am even more inspired to go now!

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Vanessa 20th June 2019 - 8:30 am

As a fellow adventurer, I know you’d love it, especially the wild wall. Forget the tourist parts, not the same experience!

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Becki 21st June 2019 - 1:06 am

I’m always in awe whenever I see images of The Great Wall, I can’t even begin to imagine how they built it. I’ve visited a tiny and very touristy section of it, but I Think you experience of seeing it in its unrestored and more natural state must have been so much better than my experience despite it being quite a bit more dangerous. After such a long hike, it must be an amazing feeling to get the toboggan ride back down.

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Vanessa 22nd June 2019 - 12:19 pm

The toboggan ride was a fun end to the hike, I want to go again, I lobed it!

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amar singh 22nd June 2019 - 2:33 am

I must admit that this is one of my bucket list places and your post has only made me think very hard and make me want to visit it as soon as possible. I must admit never thought that there would be hiking involved as well which makes it even more interesting for me. I guess this is the reason why this is not as crowded as some of the other more touristy parts. I really love the saying Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints which just leaves such great memories I must admit

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Vanessa 22nd June 2019 - 12:18 pm

I loved this sign too, the essence of the wild wall. For me the tourist parts were not appealing, the wild wall is where you want to go!

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Archana Singh 22nd June 2019 - 11:50 pm

I have just returned from China but I had gone to its Southern beachside. So, didn’t get to go hiking. But hiking the great wall of China looks great. this is definitely a bucket list item for me. I didn’t know the Jiankou section of the hike is called the “granddaddy of wild Great Wall hikes.

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Vanessa 23rd June 2019 - 9:52 am

Next time you visit China, you must visit the Great Wall, it’s one ting you can’t miss out on. However, the wild wall is a far greater experience than the touristy part.

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Shaily 23rd June 2019 - 12:07 pm

This sounds like a great adventure. The aerial view of the landscape of Jiankou is quite fascinating and so are the ruins of Mutianyu. The adrenaline-pumping 1580m slide is just wow experience! I wish to experience all this in person someday. Thanks for giving us a virtual tour of the wild side of the Great Wall.

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Vanessa 24th June 2019 - 10:19 pm

I will remember the Jiankou Mutianyu tour for years to come, loved it! You wouldn’t get me on the tourist trail there!

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Andreja 24th June 2019 - 2:55 am

Wow I didnt know there is wild part of China wall where you can actually go on a tour! I was not a fan of China wall because of all the tourists goingg there! But now I will reconsider! Tobogan looks fun too! Thanks for the tips!

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Vanessa 24th June 2019 - 10:21 pm

You must reconsider! The wild wall is a whole different experience, one I would recommend!

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