As you hike the raised boardwalk of the Huanglong Scenic Area, you’ll come across over a hundred stunning, reflective turquoise ponds that make up the Mirror Ponds. Though this is one of the smallest such pool groupings in the valley, people find it a special, poignantly beautiful place for the views of the mountain scenery in the water.
Ming Jing Dao Ying Chi (明镜倒映池 /ming jing daou ying chrr/) translates as 'Bright Mirror Inverted Reflection Pools'. The mystique of these ponds is the inverted apparitions seen on their placid surfaces in the clear water and the abundance of color.
Aptly named, the clarity of the water in the Mirror Pond pools allows you to see the bottom and turns each pond into a reflective surface that mirrors the overhead sky, the high peaks of the Minshan mountain range and the lush surrounding forest. The view of the ponds is particularly coveted during sunny days, when the brightest sunlight makes the images sharp and clear.
The Mirror Pond area is a common stop for photographers, who take advantage of the quiet scenery, unimpeded views and fascinating illusion of the mirrored landscape. The pools are a highlight for photographers looking to catch special reflection effects. And some tourists check their appearance on their walk.
These are colorful ponds. They are greenish ponds mainly, but during the spring, flowers, butterflies, and birds sprinkle extra color accents. The pine trees nearby add dark green, and on a clear day, the tint of blue is added.
During the fall season, Mirror Pond’s pools reflect the colorful changing foliage, and in winter, the whole of Huanglong becomes an incredible snowy landscape.
The pools are most colorful in autumn with red and yellow foliage. The reflections of sunlight, mountains, snow, and trees in the ponds are colorful, and sometimes the surfaces seem iridescent.
The travertine, a type of limestone deposit from mineral springs, has created natural dams, which turned into tiered cascades of trapped water. Thousands of these colorful pools are located in the Huanglong park, and the Mirror Pond area is a collection of 180 of them.
Huanglong’s boardwalk ascends from the bottom entry near the ticket office to the top of the park, which ends with the Multi-Colored Pond, Wucai (五彩池). Mirror Pond sits between these, in the very heart of Huanglong. The altitude at Mirror Pond is 3,431 meters (11,257 feet).
On the left flank of Huanglong Valley, hugging the forested mountain sides, there is a group of natural reflecting pools mirroring the evergreens that tower over them.
Below the area is the Bonsai Pond collection of pools, Penjing (盆景池), which you will pass on your way.
Above Mirror Pond is Rhododendron Pond, Suoluoyingcai (娑萝映彩池), and continuing up the boardwalk, you’ll run into the larger area of the Beauty-Competing Pond, Zhengyancai (争艳彩池), and cross the Suyun Bridge (宿云桥)
To get to Mirror Pond from the bottom entrance, you can take the left-hand path and follow it straight up the park. Turn offs along the way allow you to visit the other formations.
You can see the ponds about a kilometer up from the entrance gate near the middle of the 3½-kilometer-long (2-mile-long) valley when you take the left side walking path. They are a few hundred meters up from Sands Floor, also known as Golden Sand on Earth or Jinshapudi (金沙铺地). Sands Floor is an unmatched expanse of golden travertine.
Follow Sands Floor and take the first left on the boardwalk, which cuts across it. A little farther up the valley, and you’ll reach Mirror Pond.
Alternatively, you can pay for
a cable car to the Cableway Upper Station (索道上站 Suodao
Shang Zhan /swor-daou shung jan/), where you can visit Wanglongping
(望龙坪), the “Dragon
Viewing Platform” viewpoint, near the top of the park. Then hike
down from the station.
Taking the right-hand path from the Middle Temple (中寺 Zhong Si /Jong Srr/) will bring you to Suyun Bridge and down to Mirror Pond.
Around the ponds, there are trails, benches and an observation deck for viewing the pools and resting. The boardwalk in Huanglong protects the delicate travertine formations from foot traffic and is very well maintained for visitors.
Trashcans, restrooms, and food and drink vendors are available in Huanglong.
Like all areas within the park, come prepared for the long walk to Mirror Pond. Bring water, weather-appropriate clothing, rain gear, sunblock, snacks and comfortable hiking shoes.
Also be aware of the high elevation and take any health or physical limitations into consideration.
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