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China: The People’s Hiking Revolution

As prosperity spreads across China, so does a passion for the outdoors. But can millions of new trekkers save Asia's vast wilderness from the march of development? Welcome to the world's next hiking frontier. PLUS, check out China's Top Treks.

China’s Top Treks
hike some of the planet’s most spectacular–and undiscovered–terrain.

  • Mt. Everest Kangshung Face
    See the Big E like few others do on this two-week trek. The route skirts villages, crosses two 17,000-foot passes, and traverses one of the world’s highest-elevation forests. DIY hikers should use Trekking in Tibet: A Traveler’s Guide, by Gary McCue. Beijing’s U-Do Adventure (udoadventure.com) offers guided trips.
  • Mt. Gongga Circle 24,790-foot Mt. Gongga–with a vertical relief greater than Everest’s–on this 12-day trek in western China’s Sichuan province. It loops around the mountain and crosses three passes, the highest at 15,095 feet, and leads through pristine forests and to remote Buddhist monasteries. The route follows unmarked trails, making guides a must. Wild China (wildchina.com) runs 16-day trips.
  • The Great Wall The famous wall is actually a series of walls and towers built across northern China. The best three-day trek is along a section of 500-year-old wall in Shanxi province. The trail begins at Juchangbao, a now-crumbling fortress built by China’s Ming dynasty rulers, and ends at a tower 31 miles west. U-Do Adventure (udoadventure.com) guides this and other Great Wall trips.
  • Mt. Khawakarpo This sacred Buddhist pilgrimage in a Tibetan area of Yunnan province crosses an alpine region rarely seen by Westerners. The two-week trek starts by the Mekong River and wraps around 22,241-foot Mt. Khawakarpo, ascending five major passes as it traverses forests inhabited by Asiatic black bears and red pandas. Tibetan-run Khampa Caravan (khampacaravan.com) leads trips.
  • Mt. Tai Experience hiking the way locals do: Climb one of the sacred Taoist pilgrimage sites in the east. Yellow Mountain is the most popular among them, but Mt. Tai, in eastern Shandong province, offers better hiking. A 10-mile round-trip passes a dozen temples, ascends a staircase with 6,660 steps, and encompasses several hotels and restaurants on top. Info: travelshandong.us/taishan.htm
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