Jiankou is the adventurer's Great Wall of China—an unrestored section with crumbling masonwork snaking along a wild mountain ridge 43 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Beijing. Built during the Tang Dynasty, the wall is dotted with interesting features, including the Nine-Eye Tower, which offers views of China's capital city on a clear day.
Day-trippers, hikers, overnight campers, and photographers come to the Jiankou section to escape the crowds and enjoy the sublime scenery that stretches for nearly 10 miles (14.5 kilometers) along steep, jagged cliffs. At Beijing Knot, three segments of the Great Wall meet; it is from here that many visitors begin guided hikes between the Jiankou and Mutianyu Great Wall—the most popular Great Wall walk, lasting anywhere from three to six hours.
A tour guide can help navigate the trickier areas, including Eagle Flies Facing Upward, the watchtower-topped hill that’s so steep even an eagle would have to fly vertically to reach the top. The stairs leading up to the tower are very steep—so narrow in some areas that only one person can pass at a time.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Jiankou Great Wall is a must-visit for adventure travelers and photographers.
Wear good walking shoes and be prepared for steep, uneven steps.
Don’t forget to wear long pants for Great Wall hiking, as some of segment includes thick greenery.
A small-group and private hiking tour to the wild Great Wall typically lasts upwards of eight hours.
Most tours include hotel pickup and drop-off in Beijing.
How to Get There
While it’s possible to reach this portion of the wall by public transportation, the journey takes nearly three hours and involves a bus transfer and a taxi ride. It’s much more convenient to visit on a guided tour.
When to Get There
For the best hiking weather, visit in spring or fall. Expect frequent rainfall between July and August. Avoid visiting during Chinese public holidays, when even the remote portions of the wall can get crowded.
Villages of the Jiankou Great Wall
Xizhazi Village and Wofo Mountain Villa serve as the terminal points for the Jiankou Great Wall hike. Both offer accommodations for those planning to stay the night, and both are a great place to treat yourself to some local food after a day of physical exertion.