Climb Mt. Xiaowutai (小五台山): Hebei Province's Highest Peak

15 miles 6000 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Kyle Obermann

One of northern China's most accessible and best kept secrets, Mt. Xiaowutai is only a $10, 4 hour train ride from Beijing and throws you into a completely different world of stunning mixed beech and pine forest, raging river canyons, alpine meadows, and knife-edge mountain ridges. Avoid the summer and spring months, and you'll have the mountain to yourself to enjoy the stunning vistas of Hebei Province and from its highest peaks.

This trip makes a great extended weekend getaway from Beijing. Mt. Xiawutai lies in the neighboring province of Hebei and is Hebei's highest peak at 2882m. Getting to the mountain requires either taking a bus from the Beijing South Railway station to the town of Taohua (桃花镇) or train to Xiahuayuan (下花园). Either option is for under $15 and takes about 3-4 hours. If taking the train, you'll need to hire a driver for another 1-1.5 hours to get to the trailhead whereas Taohua is only about 30 minutes away. Driver "Li" (李师傅) is reliable and can be reached at 863-238-5587 but speaks no English.

Mt. Xiaowutai is comprised of a series of 5 peaks, the "East Peak" being the highest. The other peaks (North, South, West, and Middle) connect to each other through a series of narrow alpine ridges. There are multiple trailheads to the East Peak and the adjacent summits that start from three major river valleys, Jinhekou (金河口), Shanjiankou (山涧口), Chiyabao (赤崖堡). For foreigners, doing an out-and-back route from the main tourist entrance of Jinhekou is best as the other entrances often do not let foreigners enter. There will be a park entrance fee of about $15, but in the off season no one will be there.

The Jinhekou route to the East peak is the most challenging. It requires many river crossings and excellent navigation skills ascending from the valley to the ridge. During the steep and unrelenting ascent, the trail all but disappears and requires a good map and navigation skills. The trail clearly resumes on the ridge line. Descending this way requires extreme caution as well because only one ravine leads safely down to the river valley without leading to an impassible, rocky drop off.

Other things to note: The only reliable sources of flowing water come from the streams in the valleys leading up to the ridges so it is necessary to take all the water you will need with you up until you come down. Like all mountains, but especially in this geographical area with violent cold fronts coming from Mongolia, the weather can change quickly and fiercely. Wind is also an issue too, and since the majority of the hike takes place on exposed ridge lines having a sturdy tent is a must.

Finally, having a rudimentary to medium grasp of Mandarin Chinese is highly recommended. If you need help with finding maps or have other questions please feel free to reach out!

Read More

Tags

Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Wildness 4 hours away from the megalopolis

An awesome place really not far from Beijing. Perfect mountains for a few days of hiking, breathtaking scenery, pine forest, wild birds. The only problem is the water since northern China is pretty dry. Many thanks to the author for photos and information!

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike the Chenjiapu Great Wall

    This is a really nice section of the Great Wall that is much less known than many other parts. You are likely to hike here and find yourself the only one on the wall. Some parts are completely overgrown, you have to bushwack through the growth on ...

    3.1 miles 1968.5 ft gain

  • Explore the Forbidden City

    The Forbidden City is the incredible palace of the Ming Dynasty. It housed the Chinese government for almost 500 years and is located in the middle of Beijing. The palace is massive and extremely unique. Visiting the palace gives you a sense of h...

  • Hike the Great Wall of China's Jiankou Section

    The Jiankou section of the wall is known as the ‘Wild’ section due to its complete lack of restoration since its construction in the 1300s. This fact alone makes this area of the wall fascinating. Located 45 miles outside of Beijing (1.5 -2 hrs dr...

    6 miles

  • Hike the Great Wall of China's Mutianyu Section

    The 2nd most visited section of the Great Wall of China, Mutianyu is a beautifully restored and a relatively accessible spot of the wall. Located 43 miles from Beijing, it can take between 1 ½ to 2 hours to drive to the entrance. Note that you’ll ...

    4 miles