I love to hike; before Beijing, I had spent a decade in the paradise of Sonoma county, just above San Francisco. I vividly remember (and miss) those mountain walks. So, I am very pleased to finally find a Beijing mountain that offered the same solitude and beauty. It’s called JiuFeng National Forest (鹫峰国家森林公园), in the western hills, a solid 1 hour away on easy roads.
The pollution is always better just at these hills, so it’s a great escape from Beijing grittyness. The hikes are few, a straight shot up the mountains. But once you get past the slower groups, the winding trial is quiet — and lovely, with beautiful views of the Beijing valley and surrounding hills.
One great thing about it is its relative cleanliness and solitude compared to nearby Fragrant Mountain. Plus, amazingly enough, they’ve somehow avoided the regrettable Chinese tendency to leave no wilderness untouched — here there are no fake rocks, no huge red characters carved into the best scenery; not even a temple at the peak! Yes, one could spot those speakers disguied as rocks — but fortunately there was no mood-enhancing music playing.
There is also a nice small hotel there, I’m unsure of the prices but the rooms weren’t bad at all. It could be a nice Saturday night stayover.
Click here for interactive Google map and directions
Fees: for 2 persons, with car: 35RMB (15RMB each, 5RMB parking)
Address: 北京市海淀区苏家坨镇 (fastest way – Badaling to Beiqinglu 北清路， before 6th ring. More scenic – follow the lovely western canal road that passes Summer Palace, keep going north）