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  • Review: Jinshanling Great Wall review

    Summary

    Jinshanling has always been one of my favorite Great Wall locations. It has very interesting features, beautiful scenery, and it’s not exceptionally dangerous. It has a good hotel and restaurant, and while it’s not too touristy, it’s getting more crowded every year. There are many opportunities for taking excellent photos at Jinshanling.

    Access

    Jinshanling is further away from Beijing than other locations near Beijing such as Qinglongxia, Shentangyu, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Huanghuacheng, Xishuiyu, Badaling, Juyongguan, and others. Jinshanling is reached by taking the Jingcheng expressway north from Beijing, through Miyun and Gubeikou. Just beyond Gubeikou, you will see signs to turn off to the right to Jinshanling. It’s about 10 or 15 minutes from that point to the entrance to the Jinshanling Great Wall, which is on the right side. The entrance to the Jinshanling Great Wall is on the north side of the Wall. Most entrances to the Great Wall near Beijing are on the south side. The other notable exception is Jiankou, which can be entered from either side but is much more accessible from the north.

    Condition

    Jinshanling was restored in 1985-1987. Many of the towers were left in their original condition during the restoration. Also, the Wall itself was nearly intact in many areas and only needed minor repairs. As you head west towards Gubeikou from Jinshanling's main pass at Zhuanduokou, the Great Wall is only restored up to the third tower and is in original condition from that point all the way to Gubeikou (and beyond). Heading east to Simatai, you will find a longer stretch that’s restored, but after the Greater Jinshan Tower, it’s only repaired in a couple of spots where it was badly damaged.


    Description

    Jinshanling is connected to the Simatai Great Wall in the east and the Panlongshan Great Wall in the west. Jinshanling has probably the highest frequency of towers per kilometer of any place along the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. It also has one of the greatest varieties of architectural and defensive styles of both wall and towers.

    When you arrive at Jinshanling, you walk from the ticket booths (M on map) down a path past first a restaurant (L on map) and then a hotel (K on map) on your right side. Next is a gate where your tickets are checked (J on map). Just past this gate on the left is the lower cable car station. There is also a trail leading from here towards the Great Wall. This trail is not officially open, and at times the people in the ticket checking office will try to prevent you from using it. (Of course, if heading in the other direction, nobody will try to stop you from entering this trail at the top.) This trail goes to the easternmost possible part of the Wall near the Houchuan tower, and is useful if you want to take the shortest path to Simatai. However, it’s the longest path and you will need nearly 30 minutes just to reach the Great Wall from here. It’s also useful if you have walked from the west and you wish to return to Jinshanling, or if you have hiked here from Simatai and you want to complete the trip in the shortest way possible. However, in doing this you would miss some of the most interesting parts of the entire Simatai-Jinshanling hike.


    Red paths: Great Wall, blue paths: foot paths, yellow line: cable car

    The cable car is the easiest way to reach the Great Wall. It brings you up to the top of a hill where you follow a short foot path to reach the Wall near the Lesser Jinshan tower (G on map). From here you can walk in either direction and either follow a foot path down or return to the cable car. I would say the Wall is more interesting if you walk to the west, but the views are better if you walk to the east. However, if you walk to the west all the way to the west five-window tower, or Xiwuyanlou (A on map), the views are outstanding from there.

    If you bypass the cable car and keep walking down the road, you will reach a point where a side road goes off to the left. If you take this side road, it will lead to a long series of stairs and trails that reach the Great Wall at Shalingkou. Again, from here you can walk in either direction and enjoy the Great Wall and return by either a different way or the same one.


    Road to Shalingkou

    If you go straight on you see a branch of the Wall high up on the hillside to your left (east). This section is known as the Leopard Wall (C on map) due to its unusual spotted appearance, which results from its construction using rocks instead of bricks. Later, when you get up higher on the Wall to the west, you will have excellent views of this feature.


    Leopard Wall

    Continue down this road and you will reach Zhuanduokou pass (B on map), which is considered the main pass at Jinshanling and is certainly the lowest point. Zhuandoukou features a large tower known as the Guard Tower. From here, I recommend walking to the west (to the right). You will pass one platform, and beyond it you will reach a tower, called Xiliang Tower or West Second tower. After this tower is the end of the restoration to the west. Go on down a short hill and then up to the following tower. This is the Xiwuyanlou or West Five-eye (or five-window) tower (A on map).


    Xiwuyanlou

    From this point, if you turn around and look behind you, you will see a fantastic scene that has made it to thousands of books, magazines, postcards, and so forth. The Wall seems to lead in all directions. If the weather is clear, you can see a great view of the entire Simatai ridge. Because this is one of the first places I sought out the first time I ever visited the Great Wall, and because I have been there many times, it’s one of my very favorite spots on the Great Wall.


    View of Jinshanling and Simatai from Xiwuyanlou

    Xiwuyanlou also marks the end of Jinshanling and the beginning of the Gubeikou Great Wall. Continue from here to the west and in several hours you will reach Gubeikou. See the Gubeikou Panlongshan review for more details on this section of the Wall.

    Heading to the east from the Zhuanduokou Tower, you will climb up to a T-junction where you must turn left or right. To the left is the Leapord Wall (C on map). The Wall continues for a short distance and stops. It’s an interesting place to look at and it gives the best available view of the Jinshanling village. If instead you turn to the right, you go up a short hill and reach the Storehouse Tower or Warehouse Tower (D on map). This tower is named for the large building next to it which is thought to have been a storehouse for supplies such as food.


    Warehouse tower

    Proceeding to the east from this point, you will reach Shalingkou (E on map), another Jinshanling pass. Pass another tower and you will then reach the Black Tower (F on map), a rare 3-story tower.


    Black Tower

    Pass the Black Tower and two more towers and you will reach the Lesser Jinshan Tower (G on map) and the Greater Jinshan Tower (H on map). These are named for their heights rather than their sizes as the Lesser Jinshan Tower is the larger of the two.


    Lesser Jinshan Tower


    Greater Jinshan Tower

    Shortly after the Greater Jinshan Tower, you will reach the end of the Jinshanling Restoration project. After this point, the Wall is restored only in a couple of spots where it was previously dangerous to pass.


    Eastern end of restored Jinshanling Great Wall

    Another important tower you will soon reach is called General Tower or General’s Tower (I on map). This large and high tower had a good strategic position and a good view or enemy territory to the north. This tower sits at the top of a steep incline that has exactly 100 steps. This is the highest point you will reach on your way to Simatai.


    General Tower

    From the General Tower and the area just past it, if you turn around and look back where you came from, the view of the Jinshanling Great Wall is excellent. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Wohushan Great Wall on the far side of Gubeikou.


    Overview of Jinshanling Great Wall from the east

    As you explore the Jinshanling Great Wall, you will notice barrier walls in many places. These are series of short walls that cross about two thirds of the width of the path along the top of the Great Wall. They are found on inclined areas near watch towers. They can be found in only a few places on the Great Wall other than Jinshanling. These walls were built to provide yet another layer of defense by making it easier to defend the towers against enemy forces that may have made it up to the foot of the Great Wall at a lower point.


    Barrier walls


    Barrier walls

    Jinshanling features two round watch towers which are separate from the Wall, located on the north side of the Wall near Zhuanduokou. This is just another example of the very wide variety of towers to be found at Jinshanling because round towers are very uncommon on the Great Wall.


    Round tower

    I visited Jinshanling for the fourth time in 2008. I arrived from early in the morning, spent the entire day exploring, had dinner in the restaurant, and spent the night in the hotel. The next morning, I left very early and hiked to Simatai, reaching the Simatai reservoir before 8:00 AM. (Because it was so early, I did not see a single person the entire way.) This allowed me to spend the entire day at Simatai. This is a good two-day plan for those who wish to not only hike from Jinshanling to Simatai but also to have plenty of time to spend at each end of the hike.

    Bryan

  • #2
    Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

    Hi,

    I intend to to the trip in September. If i

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

      [QUOTE=ekroeger;10024]Hi,

      I intend to to the trip in September. If i
      Bryan

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

        I understand that the Simatai wall is closed as of mid June 2010. Does this mean that if I travel from the Jinshanling wall towards Simatai, I will not be able to exit at Simatai?

        If that is the case, can someone advise of an equally beautiful part to hike...

        Maybe Jinshanling to Gubeikou, or Jiankou to Mutianyu?

        I am interested in beautiful high mountains, with great views.

        Your help is appreciated

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

          Originally posted by rjkritzer View Post
          I understand that the Simatai wall is closed as of mid June 2010. Does this mean that if I travel from the Jinshanling wall towards Simatai, I will not be able to exit at Simatai?

          If that is the case, can someone advise of an equally beautiful part to hike...

          Maybe Jinshanling to Gubeikou, or Jiankou to Mutianyu?

          I am interested in beautiful high mountains, with great views.

          Your help is appreciated
          Hi,

          Please refer to the following threads:

          http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...ne-2010-a.html

          http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...-mutianyu.html

          We're glad to help if you have any more questions.
          Bryan

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

            Hi, it's possible to see the sunrise from Jinshanling? In other words, can I "enter" early in morning?

            Thank you!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

              Originally posted by bananajoe GreatWall View Post
              Hi, it's possible to see the sunrise from Jinshanling? In other words, can I "enter" early in morning?

              Thank you!
              Best to call them and get the current schedule as it seems to change from time to time. You can find some telephone numbers here:

              http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...formation.html
              http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...ng-hotels.html

              But rather than climbing up in the dark, you could consider camping on the wall. This would present sunset opportunities too.

              http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...nshanling.html
              http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...reat-wall.html
              Bryan

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

                Thank you for your help!

                So first I've read that the connection beetween Jinshanling and Simatai is closed http://www.travelchinaguide.com/pack...jingtour10.htm

                do you confirm?

                Then in the page "camping in Jinshanling" someone told this:

                "I was in Jinshanling last week (after a long while not going there). It may be cold news on the forum, but just in case : they have now (and since a couple of years I suspect) several billboards in chinese and english emphasizing the fact that camping/lighting a fire on Jinshanling Great Wall is forbidden, and subject to a 3,000 RMB fine.

                Also, it seems that they check tickets on the way out. I arrived from Gubeikou a bit late (around 5:30pm) but my driver told my that a group of laowai before me got checked at the gate and had to purchase tickets on the way out."

                So if I sleep there they will find out because of my ticket? Is it right?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review

                  For the latest info, I would try contacting Snow or the Dongpo Inn, both are local there, and you can find their contact info on this thread: http://www.greatwallforum.com/forum/...ongpo-inn.html
                  Bryan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Jinshanling Great Wall review



                    Thank you!!!

                    Comment

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