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Best Hiking Trails in China

Overview

One of the world’s most populous countries, China has stunning mountain landscapes throughout the entire country to explore.  These include sacred mountains such as Huashan, Qinchengshan, Songshan, Taishan; Yangshuo, Tibet’s many treks, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Huangshan and so much more. The best months to hike in China vary according to the region; you can find somewhere to hike for every month of the year. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in China. 

Capital: Beijing

When To Hike in China?

Year Round: For most of the country, the spring, summer and fall months are best but in certain parts, winter months are ideal.  Filter through the map to see the best months by region.
Varies
November – March; Varies: Winter months are not ideal in most regions, but it depends on the region

Climate: Vast range of climates due to the size and topography of China.   

 

China Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium – Hard: Hikes from urban centres could be fairly easy to do independently (ie. parts of the Great Wall from Beijing) but in many other places, it’s wise to go with guides or organized hiking groups.  English may not be spoken or written on signs in parts outside of urban areas.  

Transportation required: Public transit to many areas; car for others

Where to stay in China for hiking:

  • Beijing
  • Taian
  • Huayin
  • Xi’an
  • Dali
  • Chengdu
  • Dalian
  • Qingdao

Most popular hikes in China

There are mountainous areas throughout the country; the western half of the country contains its highest mountains including the world’s highest, Everest (8849 m). The most popular provinces/areas for hiking include: The Great Wall - this 2000 year old wall runs through 17 provinces and is not one continuous structure; around Beijing and other areas of Hebei province; Taishan in Shāndōng province; Songshan in Henan province; Huangshan (Yellow Mountains) in Anhui province; Sichuan has a number of popular areas such as Jiuzhaigou National Park and Emeishan; Huashan in Shaanxi province; Húnán province has some great national parks such as Zhāngjiājiè National Park; the beautiful high peaks of Tibet Yangshuo in Guangxi province; Yunnan province has the towns of Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang which have lots of hiking around them including the popular Tiger Leaping Gorge; Hainan Island.

Filter out hiking places of China by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Meili Xueshan Scenic Area

  • May – Oct
  • Site of one of Tibet’s holy mountains

Nujiang

Tiger Leaping Gorge

  • Nov – Apr
  • Huge draw, 2 day trek through one of the world’s deepest gorges

Around Dali

  • Nov – Apr
  • Dali has become popular with tourists and there are hiking trails in the Cangshan and other areas

Xishan

  • Nov – Apr
  • Mountain range (also known as the Western Mountains) close to Kunming
  • Has hiking trails and is popular

Hainan Island

  • Nov – Apr
  • Island off the southern coast of Guandong province, known for beach resorts
  • Central Highlands running through the centre of the island
  • Wuzhishan – Five Finger Mountain, highest peak at 1867 m – apparently difficult to get permit but hikeable
  • Jianfengling National Forest Park
  • Qixian Ling Hot Spring Forest Park – Seven Fairy Mountain

Longji Rice Terraces

  • Sept – Feb
  • Hiking here is very popular

Yangshuo

  • Sept – Nov
  • Main draw to the province of Guangxi – the karst peaks and river make it a major climbing and boating destination; you can hike here as well; Moon Hill is very popular

Amnye Machen

Huzhu Beishan National Geopark

Kanbula National Park

  • May – Sept

Zhangye Danxia National Geopark

  • Apr – Oct
  • Known as the Rainbow Mountains

Tianshan Forest Park

  • June – Aug
  • This mighty range travels eastward from Kyrgyzstan 
  • Heavenly Lake Scenic Area is a big draw in this area

Huoyan Mountain

  • Oct – Apr
  • Huoyan Shan also known as the Flaming Mountains, low mountain range, parallel to Tian Shan
  • Next to Turpan which is known as China’s Death Valley – one of the hottest spots in China

Xinjiang Kanas National Geopark

  • May – Sept
  • Very north, right on border with Russia
  • Jiadengyu National Forest Park – just below

Tibet

  • Apr – May; Sept – Oct
  • Known as the ‘roof of the world’, Tibet sits on a very high plateau (4000 m) and contains the highest peaks in the world, including Everest
  • Everest Base Camp – Nepal trek is popular but can go from Tibet
  • Mt Kailash
  • Sanjiangyuan National Park – https://wildchina.com/2021/07/sanjiangyuan-chinas-largest-national-park/ 
  • Lots of treks that can be undertaken here

Shennong Peak Scenic Area

  • Apr – May; Oct – Nov

Wudang Mountains Scenic Spot

  • Apr – May; Sept – Oct
  • Sacred Taoist mountain, hikes to the top

Tianmen Mountain National Park

  • Mar – Apr; Aug – Oct

Wulingyuan Scenic Area

  • Mar – Apr; Aug – Oct
  • Unique landscape with spires – area also famous for scenes from Avatar filmed here
  • Zhāngjiājiè National Park 
  • Yuanjiajie – very popular area with trails
  • Tianzi Mountain
  • Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

Zhúróng Peak

  • Jul – Nov
  • Well known peak
  • Rainy here

Qinling Mountains

  • Apr – June; Oct
  • Mountain range in southern Shaanxi province
  • Taibaishan National Forest Park
  • Shaanxi Heihe River National Forest Park
  • Taiping National Forest Park
  • Quihua Mountain Scenic Spot

Huashan

  • Apr – June; Oct
  • One of Taoism’s sacred mountains
  • Five peaks with hiking trails going to the summits – very popular
  • Plank Walk on the South Peak is considered the most dangerous hike in the world
  • Close to Xi’an, a famous city that is home of the Terracotta Warriors, end of the Silk Road

Kangding

Xiling Snow Mountain Scenic Spot

  • Apr – June; Sept – Nov

Qincheng Shan

  • Apr – June; Sept – Nov
  • Sacred Taoist mountain; hiking trails here

Siguniang Mountain

Emei Mountain

  • Apr – June; Sept – Oct
  • One of the four sacred mountains of Buddhism

Yading National Nature Reserve

Huanglong

  • Apr – May; Oct – Nov
  • Mountain area with hot springs and waterfalls

Jiuzhaigou National Park

Mianshan Mountain

  • Apr – June; Sept – Oct

Wutaishan National Forest Park

  • May – Sept

Wuyuan

  • Sept – Nov
  • Hiking from village to village in this area

Sanqing Mountain

  • Sept – Nov

Lushan Scenic Spot

  • Sept – Nov

Jiahuashan Scenic Area

  • Mar – May; Sept – Nov
  • Buddhist sites; hiking trails

Huangshan

  • Mar – May; Sept – Nov
  • Yellow Mountains (China’s iconic mountain range); www.chinahuangshan.gov.cn 
  • Very touristy, lots of hiking trails here 
  • Close by is Qingliang Peak

Songshan Mountain

  • Apr – June; Sept – Oct
  • One of the sacred Buddhist peaks
  • Home of Shaolin temple
  • Can hike two main peaks; very busy
  • Mt Taishi 

Laoshan National Forest Park

  • Apr – June; Sept – Oct
  • Near Qingdao, hiking trails here

Taishan Mountain

  • Apr – June; Sept – Oct
  • Located in Shāndōng province, birthplace of Confucious
  • Considered the holiest of the five sacred Taoist mountains; very popular hike (1532 m)

Dalian Jinlong Temple Forest Park

  • Apr – May; Sept – Oct

Xianrendong Forest Park

  • Apr – May; Sept – Oct

Changbai Mountains

  • May – Sept
  • Bordering on North Korea 
  • Changbaishan National Nature Reserve – Heaven Lake is the centrepiece; shared with North Korea

Around Beijing

  • Apr – May; Sept – Oct
  • The city is surrounded by mountains, and there are lots of scenic areas/forest reserves with hiking trails
  • The Great Wall – there are many restored and wild sections of this trail; those closest to Beijing are the most visited and therefore crowded during peak times; Lonely Planet has a good section on The Great Wall and which areas to aim for; Badaling is the most visited and touristy (70 km from Beijing); Jiankou section
  • Yesanpo National Park 
  • Xiaowutaishan National Natural Reserve; home of Hebei’s highest peak (2882 m); Climb Mt. Xiaowutai (小五台山): Hebei Province’s Highest Peak, Zhangjiakou Shi, China 
  • Labagoumen Primeval Forest Scenic Area
  • Shuhuashan Scenic Area
  • Huyu Natural Scenic Area
  • Gouya Nature Scenic Area
  • Yunxiugu Natural Scenic Area

 

Long Distance Trails of China

Many of the trails described here are multi-day treks.  One of the most well-known long distance treks in China is of course the Great Wall, which runs about 4000 km but is not one continuous trail and many sections are old and crumbling while other sections have been restored.

China's Walking & Hiking Resources

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China Hiking Books:

  • Hiking in China: the Joys of Exploring the Middle Kingdom on Foot, by Mable-Ann Chang, 2022, Earnshaw Books – https://amzn.to/4cEM5J4
  • Trekking Everest: Base Camp, Kala Patar and Other Trekking Routes in Nepal and Tibet, by Radek Kucharski, 2023, Cicerone Press – https://amzn.to/3TTCUxb
  • Trekking in Tibet: a traveler’s guide, 3rd edition, by Gary McCue, 2010, Mountaineers Books – https://amzn.to/3xj7Oq5
  • Walking in Clouds: A Journey to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, by Kavitha Yaga Buggana, 2019, HarperCollins India – https://amzn.to/3TGwSyv
  • Trekking in the Everest Region: a trekking and trekking peak guide, by Jamie McGuiness, 2018, Trailblazer Publications – https://amzn.to/3PZ5s5Y
  • Lonely Planet China, by Stuart Butler, Jade Bremmer, Kate Chapman, 2022, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/3VCwZ0M
  • DK Eyewitness China, by DK Eyewitness, 2018, DK Eyewitness Travel – https://amzn.to/43Ghhnp

China Hiking Associations/Clubs: 

 

Best Hiking Trails in China:

There are so many hiking trails in this huge country that it is hard to pick a handful, but here is small sample of some of the popular ones. You can find more details on hiking these trails from trail maps/apps, websites, and tourist offices:

  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Seven Fairy Mountain – Hainan Island
  • Longji Rice Terraces
  • Moon Hill – Yangshuo
  • Amnye Machen – Tibet
  • Mount Kailash – Tibet
  • Yuanjiajie – Tibet
  • Huashan (Mount Hua) – Shaanxi
  • Huangshan
  • Songshan
  • Taishan
  • Jiankou section of the Great Wall
  • Emeishan

Easy Hiking Trails in China:

  • Five Flower Lake – Jiuzhaigou
  • Baiwang Mountain – Beijing

 

China Hiking Tours:

 

China Hiking Websites: Lots of travel blogs related to hiking in China, particularly for specific areas

 

China Weather Website:

 

China Official Tourism Organizations:

 

China Hiking Apps:

 

China Hiking & Road Maps:

What Else To Do

  • Terracotta Warriors
  • Imperial sights (ie. Forbidden City)
  • Food
  • Lots more

Other Important Points

  • Air quality is an issue in certain areas (cities) of China, go to www.aqicn.org to check
  • Many established hiking trails are paved