Hiking from Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu

This is an excellent Great Wall hike for those looking to go beyond the touristy hikes they may have already completed. The starting and ending points are easily accessible. There are a couple of dangerous spots on the hike. In one place, the remains of the Great Wall are very narrow and balance and care are needed not to slip off as you walk across. In another place, a tower door must be entered by reaching out over the edge of the Great Wall and climbing up into a somewhat high doorway, and care is needed not to fall or slip down.

The final slope of the Great Wall down to Xishuiyu is in very bad condition. The surface is very crumbly and slippery, and the incline is long and steep. Therefore, you should exit the Great Wall before this final span and take paths through the woods down to Xishuiyu. There are many paths and branches and you need to have a good sense of direction not to get lost. Complicating this matter is the fact that Google Earth imagery is currently significantly misaligned in this area, so tracing paths for transfer to your GPS is useless.

Start this hike at Huanghuacheng and head west (left) towards Xishuiyu. You can either get picked up at Xishuiyu or you can walk back along the road to Huanghuacheng. It took us about 4.5 leisurely hours to complete the hike and just over an hour to walk back.

If you’re looking for a shorter hike, you can stop at Zhuangdaokouguan, hike south (left) to Zhuangdaokou, and then walk back to Huanghuacheng. This whole round trip can be completed in about two hours. Zhuangdaokou is the western end of the restored portion of the Great Wall here, so this is a relatively easy hike, although there are a few steep slopes that can be slippery, especially when wet.

The initial slope heading west from the road cannot be climbed. There are paths around this area on both the north and the south side.

Start of path to the south

Start of path to the north

Looking down from the first tower

Looking down from above the first tower

Looking up

Second tower

Tablet at the north exit of the second tower

Location of tablet

Horrible repair quality

Looking down the final slope to Zhuangdaokou
Zhuangdaokouguan is visible at the bottom

A view of Erdaoguan, an early Ming Dynasty stone wall

Here a branch of the Great Wall leads north to Erdaoguan

Another view towards Erdaoguan

Here we’re approaching Xiaoxihu lake at Xishuiyu

Here we see the final tower before the steep slope down to Xishuiyu

Overview of Xishuiyu from the tower

The slope down beyond the final tower is too steep and deteriorated to climb safely

Therefore, you should use this exit on the south (left) side of the wall just before the final tower

Elevation profile from Huanghuacheng to Zhuangdaokou

Elevation profile for the entire hike