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Adventures / Trip Ideas

Going on a hair-raising journey in Mount Hua

By Linting Hou

December 20

Mount Hua has the world’s most hair-raising hiking trails. The narrow, steep paths attract thrill seekers from around the world.

Mount Hua has the world’s most hair-raising hiking trails. The narrow, steep paths attract thrill seekers from around the world.

Mount Hua is a sacred place for Taoism. About 2000 years ago, pilgrims, monks and nuns began building paths leading to the peaks. The paths have since been reinforced due to the increasing number of tourists, but they are still dangerous and terrifying. Here are four paths we recommend for thrill seekers.

1. Chang Kong Cliff Road

Chang Kong Cliff Road
Chang Kong Cliff Road [Image Credit: VCG]
Chang Kong (meaning “the broad sky”) Cliff Road is the most dangerous path on Mount Hua. Located on the east side of the South Peak (南峰), the walk is made up of planks, connected together by nails. The narrowest plank is only 30cm wide and some sections are without planks, where you can only get through with some rock climbing. One side of the narrow walk is a vertical cliff, and the other side a one-thousand-meter drop. To ensure safety, authorities have required wearing safety harnesses.

2. Sparrow Hawk Steps

Sparrow Hawk Steps
Sparrow Hawk Steps [Image Credit: VCG]
While the Sparrow Hawk Steps seem easier than the Sky Walk to traverse, they are actually more arduous because of the vertical slope. This precipitous walkway is located on the East Peak (东峰) and it’s the only way down to the Chess Kiosk (下棋亭), a pavilion famous for the story where Zhao Kuangyin, the emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty, once played Chinese chess with the Taoist Chen Tuan at this pavilion, and lost Mount Hua to his opponent. The steps are carved out of an extremely steep cliff. To get over some points of the walkway, you must swivel your body left and right, the way a sparrow hawk often does as it navigates through the air.

3. Green Dragon Ridge

Green Dragon Ridge
Green Dragon Ridge [Image Credit: VCG]
Green Dragon Ridge is the only access to Five Cloud Summit (五云岭). The blade-like ridge is very narrow and steep. During the Tang Dynasty, the famous writer Han Yu visited Mount Hua. When he climbed up Green Dragon Ridge and looked back, he was so scared that he couldn’t walk. So he wrote a letter requesting a favor, and threw it into the valley. As luck would have it, a local official found the letter and sent some people to bring Han Yu back. Now, there is place on the ridge called Han Yu Tou Shu Chu (the place where Han Yu cast the letter). To make the ridge easier to climb, more steps have been built. But to go through safely, you still need to hold the handrail tightly.

4. Thousand-Foot Canyon and Hundred-Foot Gorge

Hundred-Foot Gorge
Hundred-Foot Gorge [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Fan Genlin]
The Thousand-Foot Canyon and Hundred-Foot Gorge are crevices in Mount Hua. In order to climb to the peak, Taoists built some steps in the gap.

Thousand-Foot Canyon is considered the first dangerous pass in Mount Hua. The narrow path, with a 70-degree angle, allows just two people at a time to get through. It has more than 370 steps.

After getting through Thousand-Foot Canyon, you come to Hundred-Foot Gorge.Although it only has 91 steps, this short path is tiring.

Best time to visit: April – October

Entry: 180 yuan/person (March – November)

100 yuan/person (December – February)

Transport: take a train to Hua Shan Station, then take No.1 bus and get off at Xiyue Temple (西岳庙).

Opening Hours: West Gate: all day;

East Gate: 07:00 a.m. – 07:00 p.m. (March – November)

09:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m. (December – February)

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