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

Mt. Xiaowutai, Zhangjiakou Shi, China

+ Add Photos

See All Photos

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

Mt. Xiaowutai, Zhangjiakou Shi, China

  • Activities:

    Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    15 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    6000 Feet

Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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!

Pack List

  • Sturdy, 3-season tent (4-season recommended if winter)
  • Below freezing sleeping bag
  • Water carrying capacity for multiple days
  • Food for 2-5 days
  • Cell phone and cash for driver etc. (water protected)
  • Waterproof maps
  • Good rain gear
  • Other gear for a 2-4 day backpacking trip
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

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!

5 months ago
5 months ago

Kyle Obermann Explorer

China Environmental and Adventure Photographer || 探险中国 || Speak Chinese to Protect Nature @kyleobermann

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

3 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

4 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

4 Saves