From the Great Wall in Beijing all the way down south to Lijiang in Yunnan province, China offers hikers avid and amateur an array of hiking trails. Here are just four of a number of treks around the country with incredible views.
Near Beijing: Jinshanling Great Wall
Level of difficulty: Moderate; Easy if you take the cable car
Wild and rambling, the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China is one of its most picturesque. Jinshanling, which is actually in neighboring Hubei province and is a two-hour drive from Beijing, takes its name from the mountains on which it sits (the “Gold Mountain range”). This 6.5-mile stretch of wall offers keen hikers a chance to climb the Great Wall in total peace and quiet. You can either hike up to the landmark and then along it, or hop on the cable car for a quick lift. Parts of the Jinshanling section date from 1368 and are extremely well preserved. You’ll also find five passes and 67 watchtowers here. The wall has sweeping vistas that are especially beautiful when framed by the windows in each tower.
In Hangzhou: from Lingyin Temple to Hupao (Tiger Spring) Mountain
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Lingyin Temple is one of China’s largest Buddhist temples and the starting point for this 7.4-mile hike. This trek has a number of ups and downs, and on your way to the lookout point, you’ll pass temples, pagodas, and lovely bamboo groves. From Lingyin Temple, take the Shi Li Lang Dang path, which runs through tea fields up to Five Clouds Hill. Here, small streams run together, dotted by the occasional pavilion where you can take a breather. Keep walking on the path past Six Harmonies Pagoda and you’ll come up to Hupao (Tiger Spring) Mountain, which has a rest area and the observation point you’ve been hiking towards. From here, you can see out over a huge swathe of verdant trees into Hangzhou proper and, on a clear day, you’ll even be able to glimpse at West Lake.
Near Lijiang, Yunnan province: Tiger Leaping Gorge
Level of difficulty: Moderate-Hard
This is the hike for which avid trekkers come to China. Tiger Leaping Gorge, in southern Yunnan province, is one of the world’s deepest river canyons, through which flows the Yangtze River. The upper trail is 16 miles, with hikers ascending 3,756 feet and descending 3,576 feet. The scenery on the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek is literally breathtaking. As you move along the trail, the views change from panoramas of eye-popping rice terraces and villages to green mountains backed by snow-capped peaks. Along the way, you’re likely to run into mountain goats and local Naxi people (one of China’s ethnic minority groups). The toughest part of the voyage is the true-to-its-name 28 Bends; you can hike this or hop on a horse or donkey.
In Hong Kong: up to Victoria Peak
Level of difficulty: Moderate
If you’re pressed for time but want to squeeze in a hike in Hong Kong, clambering up to the Peak lookout is the way to go. Although you’ll be walking up a paved road for this hike, it’s very steep much of the way and the hot, humid weather makes conditions rather strenuous. The easiest way to go is to walk up Old Peak Road, where you will venture on a mostly shaded path and see towers of apartments gradually give way to views of Victoria Harbor. When you reach the top, there’s The Peak Galleria — you can’t throw a stone in Hong Kong without hitting a mall. Go through it, basking in the air-conditioning, and out onto the observation deck to take in sweeping views of the Hong Kong skyline and harbor. To get back down, take any bus going to Central or grab a taxi from the queue out front.