Qinglongqiao

Chinese: 青龙桥
Pinyin: Qīng lóng qiáo
English: Blue dragon bridge
Coordinates: 40°21'1"N 116°1'9"E

Qinglongqiao is a section of the Great Wall located between Shuiguan and Badaling and centered on a railway station of the same name. Qinglongqiao railway station and Great Wall are within walking distance of the Badaling Great Wall.

Qinglongqiao Great Wall

This part of the Great Wall has been repaired to reduce further decay and to improve safety in certain areas, but it has not been cosmetically restored. In other words, the walking surface has been rebuilt where needed, but parapets have been left in their existing condition. This makes Qinglongqiao a good choice for someone who wants to see a wall that actually looks as old as it is, but without the difficulty of climbing on steep and crumbling areas.

The Qinglongqiao section of the Great Wall is not officially open. It is, however, relatively easy to access.

Qinglongqiao Great Wall

The Qinglongqiao train station, built in 1905, has a famous history. The story is of a railroad engineer named Zhan Tianyou.

Zhan graduated from Yale University in 1881 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He achieved many notable accomplishments, including being in charge of the first railway constructed in China without foreign assistance. In 1905, the Imperial Qing government decided to build a railroad that would link Beijing (then Peking) to an important trade city to the north. This railway would be of strategic importance to the Imperial government. The decision was therefore made that the railway would be built without foreign assistance. Capital would come from the government, and no foreign engineers were to be hired. Zhan Tianyou was the chief engineer of the railway. At the beginning, some people were skeptical that the Qing government would be able to construct the railroad in the rugged mountains without outside help. But Zhan showed he was an able engineer and completed the work two years ahead of schedule and under budget. A key problem was solved when he designed a zigzag railway by switching back the line at the Qinglongqiao railway station to overcome the steep gradient. This breakthrough made Zhan a hero.

There are exhibits at the Qinglongqiao railway station featuring the station and its surrounding historical structures. The exhibition is designed to present the original look of the station a century ago, to illustrate the historical evolution of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway, and to honor the talents and spirit of Zhan Tianyou. The exhibits include the old station house, a bronze statue of Zhan, a tomb with Zhan's personal effects, a tablet inscription by Xu Shichang, and a working part of the original zig-zag track mechanism.

Qinglongqiao railway station beneath the Great Wall

From the rail station, the wall can be followed to the northwest, towards Badaling, or to the southeast, towards Shuiguan. In each case, the wall is effectively blocked off making it difficult to proceed to the opened areas of Shuiguan or Badaling. While it's possible to climb over the barrier at Shuiguan, there are usually security guards present during daylight hours.

The shorter and easier choice is to head northwest towards Badaling. This span of the wall is about 550 meters (1800 feet) long. The wall heads steeply down from the mountain towards the railroad, and it's immediately obvious that this initial incline would be impossible to climb. To reach this side of the wall, walk down the railroad tracks about 120 meters (400 feet) southwest of the wall (away from the station). On your right, you will see a trail going up the hill. This trail soon takes you to the first platform on the wall. From this platform, you can walk back down towards the tracks for a short distance. The wall gets steeper and steeper, but the steps are secure. Walk down as far as you are comfortable and enjoy the view of the railway station and the surrounding area. Then, turn around, pass by the point where you joined the wall, and continue walking northwest and north towards Badaling. This span of the wall includes many interesting architectural design features if you pay attention to detail. It also offers excellent views of Badaling from an unusual vantage point offering a different and fresh viewpoint of an often-photographed area, which you will see in the Badaling section of this book. Continue walking until you reach a large tower. You can walk inside this tower, but you will find that the door and windows have been sealed, making this the end of your walk. Along the way, you will notice several places where there are steps built within the wall that lead down to doorways where you could exit the wall. All of these doorways have also been blocked. This makes your only practical choice to return the way you came. There is one point 120 meters (400 feet) south of the tower where you can climb down the west side of the wall and onto a trail through the woods, with the help of a drain spout and a pile of bricks on the ground, but this is rather iffy and doesn't provide much advantage, as the trail through the woods to the road is long and uninteresting.

Qinglongqiao Great Wall and Badaling National Forest Park

The longer, more challenging, and equally interesting choice is to walk southeast along the Great Wall from the railway station towards Shuiguan. This section is about 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) in length. This side has more elevation change than the northwest side, and it has more towers. From the high points you will enjoy many impressive views of Badaling to the north and Shuiguan to the south

It should be possible for you to get from the railway station onto the wall directly. First you have to find your way across to it, which can be a challenge in itself as efforts have been made to deter people from walking across to the base of the Great Wall. Once you have found your way, you then you need to ascend the initial incline. It's long and steep, but it's secure.

At the top of the first ridge, the wall turns to the right, but there is one large tower on a short tail wall to the left. All along the west (right) side of the wall, you will see Badaling National Forest Park, a large forested area that shows absolutely beautiful colors in the autumn season. Further along the wall, on your right (west) side, you will see an old, freestanding stone watchtower.

Continue for a few more minutes and you will notice the style of the wall changes. Behind you, on the Badaling side, the wall has crenellations on one side and a low, straight parapet on the outside. In front of you, the wall has crenellations on both sides. Is this where two teams of builders, each using a different style, met?

You will know when you have reached Shuiguan because there is a blocked tower and possibly a security guard or two. Return the way you came, and after about 600 meters (2000 feet) there is a trail on the east (right) side that heads down to Shifosi village at the Shuiguan Great Wall.

Qinglongqiao Great Wall

Location summary: Qinglongqiao is about 59 kilometers (36 miles) northwest of downtown Beijing. It is about 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) northwest of Shuiguan and about 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) southeast of Badaling. The path of the Great Wall from Qinglongqiao to Badaling is about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 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 55 kilometers (34 miles) to Shuiguan. Continue northwest on the back road for 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) to Qinglongqiao.

Qinglongqiao Great Wall map

Qinglongqiao to Shuiguan

Qinglongqiao Great Wall

Qinglongqiao Great Wall

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Great Wall between Qinglongqiao and Shuiguan

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Badaling National Forest Park

Qinglongqiao to Badaling

This is an interesting span of wall that is partially restored but is closed.

Here's where we'll be walking today.
Qinglongqiao railway station is at the lower right.
The platform where we will join the wall is at the left.

Looking up from the bottom, we see we can't climb directly up to the wall.
We will go around to the left (west).

Here's where the trail joins the wall

Here's the entrance

Looking down from the first platform, the wall slopes steeper and steeper

Getting lower down

Even at the lowest part, we're still up pretty high.

This is the lowest that I dared to go. Compare this position with the first photo in this post.

The usual self-portrait. I'm wearing a jacket. November must be getting close.

Turning back towards the north now, we're looking up from the platform where we joined the wall.

Looking further up

Fancy shooting holes

Looking back across towards Shuiguan

Heading towards Badaling

The large tower to the left is the end of the Badaling Great Wall

Another view towards Shuiguan

This hike offers many excellent views of Badaling. This is the way to enjoy the amazing Badaling Great Wall!

An entrance ...

... which is sealed to keep people out

This is the tower that defines the end of Badaling. There are probably throngs of people on the other side!

Inside the tower.

Qinglongqiao Railway Station

Where the Great Wall meets the Beijing – Zhangjiakou Railway

40°21'5"N 116°1'12"E

The rail station, with the Great Wall in the background

Statue of Chief Engineer Zhan Tianyou, who is buried here

The switchback rail designed by Zhan Tianyou

The original switchback mechanism

View of the Great Wall heading south towards Shuiguan

View of the Great Wall heading north towards Badaling