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Mount Hua Hiking

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Jan. 6, 2021

Total Distance: 22 kimoleters, covering the five peaks of the mountain.
Time Needed: 9 hours
Features: It is one of China's most challenging, and even dangerous routes.

Mount Hua (华山Hua Shan /hwah shan/ 'Flowery Mountain'), also called Xi Yue (西岳 /sshee ywair/ 'West Mountain) because it is the westernmost of the Famous Five Taoist Mountains, is located in Huayin Prefecture, Shaanxi Province, about 120 km (75 miles) east from Xi'an and 140 km (87 miles) east from Xianyang International Airport. It can be accessed with a 2–3-hour drive following a plane or train journey to Xi'an. This tourist attraction has been highly developed, and visitors can reach the main peak by riding a cable car, but we strongly recommended hiking, and the hike will mean you won't miss the essential sights and experiences.

Also read China's top six cliff paths.

Preparation for Hiking

1. Your clothes and backpack should be as light as possible.

2. Wear walking boots (sport shoes are probably adequate, but are not good in rain or for supporting the ankles). Even in spring and summer, you should bring extra layers as it gets colder the higher you climb.

3. Take enough food and water. The price of things on the mountain is much higher than normal, and you shouldn't rely on mountain shops. High energy foods that you select yourself will probably suit you better than what is available on the mountain.

4. Be prepared with sun protection and waterproofs, and snow and ice gear if you are brave enough to climb in the winter.

5. A map, compass and watch are usually recommended for mountain walking, but you will find it hard to get lost on Mount Hua. Nevertheless, they are good for reference.

6. A whistle and flashlight are usually recommended for signaling in emergencies. These should not be needed as Mount Hua is such a popular mountain, especially if you keep to the recognized paths. A flashlight (or head torch) is however handy if you end up walking at night.

7. A first aid kit is seldom needed unless you have an existing medical condition, and can usually be dispensed with.

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One-Day Mount Hua Hike

The most popular hiking starting place is Jade Fountain Temple (玉泉院 Yu Quan Yuan /yoo chwen ywen), 500 meters off the G310, 3 km (2 miles) south of the Huayin City exit of the Xi'an–Zhengzhou Expressway. Following the road through the temple you will reach the Mount Hua West Gate and car park. The cable car station is accessed via the East Gate (also off the G310 about 1 km before the West Gate turn), followed by a winding, but well-surfaced, about 10-km (6-mile) mountain road. There is a guide map on the back of the ticket.

The part from Wangmeng Terrace to Wu Li Temple is sloping gradually and easy going. It takes about 15 minutes. There are a lot of steps close to Wu Li Temple. Along the steps is a clear rivulet. It is a relaxing path.

After about 1 hour's hiking, you will arrive at Mao Nu Cave, 4.2 km (2.6 miles) from the gate and 1.8 km (1.1 miles) from the North Peak. Between the stone gate and Mao Nu Cave, there is Yao Wang Cave.

Another hour's walking leads to Thousand-Foot precipice (Qian Chi Zhuang). It is a 70 degree slope and is only one-foot width.. But, thanks to the iron chains on both sides, you can grasp something secure and climb slowly. Hiking further for about 15 minutes, you will see a narrower canyon called Hundred-Foot Valley (百尺峡 Bai Chi Xia /bye chrr sshyah/).

Passing by Ear Touching Cliff (Ca Er Yan) and Heaven's Ladder (天梯 Tian Ti /tyen tee/), you will arrive at Black Dragon Ridge (Canglong Ling) , which is the famous "Carp's Back". Actually it is not so difficult to climb.

After Black Dragon Ridge, you will see Jinsuo (金锁 /jin swor/ 'Gold Lock') Pass. Upward lead to West Peak, South Peak, East Peak, and Central Peak, while downward lead to the North Peak. You may take a rest here and have lunch.

After lunch, you may go to West Peak and South Peak, because they shared the same way. West Peak. With the rising cloud, is immersed in cloud and fog most of the time. Going back the same way until the fork, and continuing to South Peak. The whole path was steps. South Peak is around 1 hour's walking from West Peak.

South Peak is the highest peak of Huashan Mountain. Walking down South Peak and passing by Southern Gate was one of the most frightening experiences—that was Floating-in-the-Air Path (长空栈道 Changkong Zhan Dao /chung-kong jan daoww/ 'Long Air Trestle Road' ).

You may choose to climb East Peak from Ying Yang Cave (迎阳洞 Ying Yang Dong /ying yung dong/ 'Welcome Sun Cave). East Peak is not so high, and has a good path. It only took 10 minutes to climb. The famous sight in East Peak is Somersault Cliff (鹞子翻身 Yaozi Fanshen /yaoww-dzrr fan-shnn/ 'Sparrow Hawk Turns Over').

Descending to Ying Yang Cave, from which you can also go to Central Peak. Like East Peak, Central Peak is also easy to climb. It only takes about 15 minutes to reach Central Peak from Ying Yang Cave.

Going back to Jinsuo Pass. Going down is more relaxed than climbing up, but it is more frightening, and is a big challenge to your knees. Going down to North Peak, where you can take a cable car down the mountain.

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1. Duration: approximately 10 hours

2. Best visiting season: April to October

3. The traditional and most popular route is called Green Dragon Ridge. The way has been cut on a narrow rock ridge with impressive sheer cliffs on either side.

4. Should you wish to stay overnight in one of the mountain hotels or camp, be careful of theives.

5. Avoid the tour guides in the area, as they are not very professional.

6. Be aware of environmental protection; preserve a good environment for our offspring.

China Highlights can help you customize a trip to hike on Mount. Hua.

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