This hike begins at the Zhengbeilou tower at Jiankou and proceeds in a generally eastward direction to Mutianyu.
There are several possible end points for this hike, and most of them end at the Mutianyu village where you can purchase food, drinks, and souvenirs and from which it's easy to find transportation back to Beijing or other destinations.
See this page for details on how to reach the starting point at Zhengbeilou.
The starting point at Zhengbeilou provides excellent views and photography opportunities so spend some time here before continuing on the hike.
There are two main views of the Great Wall from Zhengbeilou. One is towards Jiankou to the west and the other is towards Niujiaobian to the east.
View from Zhengbeilou towards Jiankou to the west
View from Zhengbeilou towards Niujiaobian to the east
It's to the east towards Niujiaobian that our hike begins. The hike will be about 2.5 kilometers or about 1.5 miles until you reach the restored Mutianyu Great Wall. During the hike you will go up and then back down a hairpin-shaped section of the Great Wall known as Niujiaobian. The view from the top of this part is excellent so again, pause here to enjoy the view and take photos.
The hike between Zhengbeilou and Mutianyu is not very dangerous or difficult although there are places where you must walk right along the edge of the wall and the thick brush threatens to push you over the side. There are also steep slopes with loose bricks and stones, as is the case in many places on the Great Wall. The eastern (Mutianyu) side of Niujiaobian can be slippery. There is one tower where you must climb from the top floor down to the bottom. You should find a pile of bricks in the tower to help with this. It's also possible to find your way around the tower.
The hike between Zhengbeilou and Mutianyu is described in reverse on the Hiking from Mutianyu to Jiankou page so see that hiking guide for details.
Once you reach the beginning of the restored section of Mutianyu, which would normally take just an hour or two from Zhengbeilou, you have several options. The first option would be a trail that goes down to Yingbeigou village before you actually reach Mutianyu. You can continue a bit further to the top of the main cable car on the right. Or you can proceed much further, walking more of the Mutianyu Great Wall, passing additional exit options including walking trails, a toboggan, another cable car, and yet another trail at Zhengguantai, not long before the end of the restored Mutianyu Great Wall. If you still haven't had enough, you can proceed to Lianhuachi or you can walk the Mutianyu spur wall, from which there is a long trail down to Mutianyu village about halfway to the end on the right (west) side.