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Hiking may not be the first thing on the mind of a traveller coming to Beijing, but the city is almost surrounded by mountains. A hiking trip is a refreshing and healthy alternative to the usual touristy activities on offer.
A combination of beautiful scenery and easy access, the Fragrant Hills are a local favourite and a popular hiking spot throughout the year. The mountains are particularly popular during the autumn when the trees surrounding the mountain turn a beautiful shade of gold. The hike may appear to be a short one, but the steep, continuous steps make it a challenge for any level of fitness. Gondolas are available to make the trip up and down the mountain a little easier.
How To Get There: Travel to Beigongmen Station (line 4) and find the bus stop outside of exit A. The bus 563 and 331 travel to Frangrant Hills. The station name is Xiangshan Gongyuan Dongmen.
The Great Wall may not be a mountain per se, but can provide a great hiking opportunity with stunning views. The Great Wall is not intact anymore and therefore divided into different parts. They vary according to their remoteness and level of restoration. Even the parts with a complete modern makeover, such as Badaling, can provide a challenge with all the steps that need climbing. Remote parts such as Jiankou are a more risky choice. The steps of the Wall there are fragile and missing at times, but the views are worth it. A challenge for even an experienced hiker.
How to Get There: The bus 936 leaves from Dongzhimen Wai station found outside Dongzhimen station (intersection of line 2 and 13, exit E). The destination is Yujiayuan station. From there, there is a bus H25 that arrives in Xizhazi Village (Xizhazi station) or bus H36 to Wofo Mountain Villa (Xinying station), the former is to the north of the Wall and the latter to the south.
A trip to Baiwang Mountain can be a short and easy hike suitable for hikers of all ages and levels of experience. Moreover it is very close to Beijing, only three kilometres away from the Summer Palace. The park surrounding the mountain is very rich in vegetation and can serve as an escape from the permeating Beijing smog. There are stelae stones along the way to the top, each inscribed with poems, verses and calligraphy.
How To Get There: Travel to Beigongmen Station (line 4) and find the bus stop outside of exit A. The bus 330 travel to Baiwang Mountain. The station name is Baiwang Shan. Alternatively there are buses 933 and 722 from Xizhimen station (line 2).
Miaofeng Mountain has been an important destination for pilgrims for centuries. The reason for such reverence is a temple located at the peak of the mountain. Pilgrims pray to Bixia Yuanjun, or Heavenly Jade Maiden, in the hope of curing illness and to bring prosperity. The best time to visit Miaofeng Mountain is at the end of April through to the beginning of May when one of the biggest temple fairs is hosted at the summit.
How To Get There: Buses departing from Pingguoyuan station (west end of line 1) are available once a day, everyday, and go directly to the mountain.