Hiking the Great WILD Wall of China!


Many tourists visiting the Great Wall of China go to the Badaling (restored section of the wall, most visited tourist location too) or Mutianyu (another restored tourist friendly spot with a toboggan ride down). These restored sections do not show the wear and tears on hundreds of years’ time and make for an easy drop-in photoshoot. Our wall photoshoot required hiking boots (seriously).

We were lucky to have Matt Zedler, longtime friend and Beijing rock-climber as both our driver and guide (huge thanks to Matt!).  Matt brought us to the Huanghuacheng (‘Yellow flower’ in Chinese) section of the wall about 1.5 hours drive north of Beijing. There was a small restored tourist section as well, but we avoided the tourist entrance and tickets and hiked around the hills to make it up to the wild section of the wall.

Wild MeaningWild meaning:

  • Crumbling wall covered in vegetation
  • Slippery gravel and rocks
  • Incredibly steep inclines and slopes
  • No handrails or guardrails

Scary, yes. I was literally sliding on my butt down a number of sections (not Emily or Matt – I’m just a wuss). But fulfilling and an adrenaline rush also? Absolutely!

Even in the winter time, the scenery at this section of the Great Wall was beautiful. Our hike overlooked a reservoir down below adjacent to the wall, and once we made it up the initial section of the wall to the high point for the area, we were exposed to tremendous views and able to explore a handful of the towers (great site for lunch).

Simply put: Beautiful. Or as the Chinese would say: Měilì (美丽)

Beautiful Wall

We’ll surely do a toboggan ride on our next visit like our friend Jerry Peruchini (@peruchini) did, but for this trip… a scary and exhilarating hike was exactly what we needed to feel more a part of our new home in China.

Check out all of our Great Wall photos below, or check out this article on hiking the Wild Wall from the Boston Globe.






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