The summit's huge network of connecting trails and walks meander up, down and across several different peaks. More than a few visitors spend several nights on the peak, and the North Sea (北海, Běihǎi) sunrise is a highlight for those staying overnight. Refreshing Terrace is five minutes’ walk from Beihai Hotel and attracts sunrise crowds. Lucky visitors are rewarded with the luminous spectacle of yúnhǎi (literally ‘sea of clouds’): idyllic pools of mist that settle over the mountain, filling its chasms and valleys with fog.
The staggering and other-worldly views from the summit reach out over huge valleys of granite and enormous formations of rock, topped by gravity-defying slivers of stone and the gnarled forms of ubiquitous Huangshan pine trees (Pinus taiwanensis). Many rocks have been christened with fanciful names by the Chinese, alluding to figures from religion and myth. Beginning to Believe Peak (始信峰, Shǐxìn Fēng; 1683m), with its jaw-dropping views, is a major bottleneck for photographers. En route to the North Sea, pause at the Flower Blooming on a Brush Tip, a 1640m-high granite formation topped by a pine tree. Clamber up to Purple Cloud Peak (丹霞峰, Dānxiá Fēng; 1700m) for a long survey over the landscape and try to catch the sun as it descends in the west. Aficionados of rock formations should keep an eye out for the poetically named Mobile Phone Rock (手机石, Shǒujī Shí), near the top of the Western Steps.