The Coiled Dragon Loop

  • 2½ hours

This scenic but manageable hike starts and finishes in the town of Gǔběikǒu and follows a curling stretch of the Wall known as the Coiled Dragon. From the Folk Customs Village (the southern half of Gǔběikǒu), walk up to the newly reconstructed Gǔběikǒu Gate (古北口关; Gǔběikǒu Guǎn) but turn right up a dirt track just before the gateway. You should start seeing yellow-painted blobs, left over from an old marathon that was run here: follow them. The first section of Wall you reach is a very rare stony stretch of Northern Qi Dynasty Wall (1500 years old). It soon joins up with the Ming dynasty bricked version, which you should continue to walk along (although at one stage, you need to follow yellow arrows down off the Wall to the left, before rejoining it later). Around 90 minutes after you set off, you should reach a big sweeping right-hand bend in the Wall (the coil), with three towers on top. The first and third of these towers are quite well preserved, with walls, windows and part of a roof (great for camping in). At the third tower (called Jiangjun Tower), turn left, skirting right around it, then walk down the steps before turning right at a point marked with a yellow 'X' (the marathon went straight on here). Follow this pathway all the way back to Gǔběikǒu (30 minutes), turning right when you reach the road.