Chinese: 邦水峪
Pinyin: Bāng shuǐ yù
English: Bang water valley
Coordinates: 40°19'1"N 115°56'59"E

From the Badaling area, a long line of Great Walls, fortresses, and other defensive structures runs southwest along the Beijing-Hebei border. The main wall runs for 50 kilometers (30 miles) to its end at Bijiashan.

Huajiayao is a deep, barren valley punctuated by one tower on top of a small hill in the center. This tower is special for being not rectangular, square, or round, but a parallelogram whose angles are approximately 30 degrees and 60 degrees. It's this charismatic tower that makes Huajiayao unusually interesting. There was originally a water gate at the low point of the pass, but this is now gone.

Steep western ascent on the left and the tower on the right

On the west side of the valley, towards Shixiaguan, the initial part of the wall is very risky to try to climb. You will find a trail on the south side of the wall that bypasses the first span and joins the wall at the first tower. Further up, at the second tower, is an older Ming wall heading towards the west and northwest. It just forms a loop before it ends half way up a mountain that becomes very steep. This wall is in even more deteriorated condition than the one that leads north towards Badalingzhen. The main wall turns left at the second tower and leads towards the south.

Huajiayao's east side viewed from Shixiaguan

On the east side of the valley, the wall climbs in a continuous incline for 1200 meters (4000 feet). Most of this incline has a very difficult climbing surface due to the presence of thousands of loose and broken bricks on the surface of the wall, making each and every step count.

The challenging walking surface of Huajiayao

Once you've passed the top of the mountain, you will find a fork in the wall. To the left is an older wall that runs north towards Badalingzhen. To the right is the main wall running northeast towards Badaling which soon arrives at the Ancient Badaling Great Wall.

Location summary: Huajiayao is about 59 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of downtown Beijing. It is about 6.3 kilometers (3.9 miles) southwest of Badaling and about 1.1 kilometers (0.7 miles) northeast of Shixiaguan. The path of the Great Wall from Badaling to Shixiaguan is about 10.3 kilometers (6.4 miles). The path of the Great Wall from Huajiayao to Shixiaguan is about 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles).

Driving directions: From Deshengmen City Gate near the Jishuitan subway station on the north side of Beijing, drive north and northwest on the G110 Badaling Expressway for 62 kilometers (38.5 miles). Exit onto S220 and drive north for about 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles). Make a U-turn and drive south for about 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles). The road curves to the left to parallel the expressway. Drive for another 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles). Turn left at Waipocun and drive south on Waishi Road for about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to Bangshuiyucun. Turn left and drive on the unpaved road for about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) to the Huajiayao Great Wall.

Bangshuiyu Great Wall photos

Extremely long ascent

Early Ming Dynasty Great Wall north of the brick wall

Early Ming Dynasty Great Wall north of the brick wall

Brick course transition

This is a large, freestanding, parallelogram-shaped tower at the top of a hill about 100 meters from the Bangshuiyu Great Wall pass, at 40°18'57.67"N 115°57'2.56"E. No amount of explaining can do the job of a satellite image showing the shape of this tower:

I've never seen another tower with this shape so I took a lot of photos even though the direct, overhead sun made photography difficult.

Tower is at the lower right

Parallelogram tower

Early, earth wall in foreground; later, brick wall in background