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Hiking in Zhangjiajie is an experience everyone sighs up for! Unlike hiking in China’s arduous mountains like Yellow Mountain and Huashan, hiking in Zhangjiajie is much easier that allows everyone have fun there. Besides, Zhangjiajie treats hikers with unbeatable scenery. Unique “Avatar Mountains”, heaven-towards caves, tranquil streams, deep canyon… You could put all of these treasures in a basket when do hiking in Zhangjiajie.
Here, we provide all the popular Zhangjiajie hiking routes for you, clear and useful hiking maps are also listed. What are you waiting for? Pack up your backpack and jump on a flight, it’s time to get close to the otherworldly nature.
Zhangjiajie is a city rich in hiking trails. You could find trails in the most famous Zhangjiajie National Park, Tianzi Mountain, Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Tianmen Mountain, and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. For more details, you could keep reading in order or jump to the part you are interested.
Wulingyuan Scenic Area is a huge tourist area composed of four parts - Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain and Yangjiajie. The whole Wulingyuan shares one ticket. And the ticket is valid for 4 days visiting after booking, meaning you can get in and out Wulingyuan for countless times during the 4 days. There are also 5 ticket stations of this larges area, and you can pay a visit from any one of these ticket stations.
Warm tip: some tourists also hold the view that Wulingyuan is the another name of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, and Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie and Tianzi Mountain are part of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. This is not true. (Get more info of Wulingyuan Scenic Area if you are interested)
A one-day hiking tour is far from enough to appreciate the great amount of Avatar Mountains in Wulingyuan Scenic Area. There are countless stone hiking trails and routes for you to choose and experience. To help you find the best hiking routes, we would introduce you the different hiking routes in the four areas. The details are as follows:
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the firstly discovered part of Wulingyuan Scenic Area. At the west part of the park there is Huangshi Village (黄石寨). Huangshi Village, also known as Yellow Stone Village, is actually not a village but a small collection of houses set on the top of one of the columns in the park. At Huangshi Village, you could have the most spectacular view of the sky-pointing pillars. In the park, there is also a tranquil Golden Whip Stream (金鞭溪) flowing between steep grotesque peaks and luxuriant trees. Most tourists spend about one day to enjoy hiking at Huangshi Village and along Golden Whip Stream.Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Hiking
Route ①: Forest Park Ticket Station (southwest door of Wulingyuan) - Oxygen Square (氧吧广场) - Huangshi Village (黄石寨) - Oxygen Square (氧吧广场) - Golden Whip Stream (金鞭溪) - Wujiayu Ticket Station (east door of Wulingyuan) or Zimugang Ticket Station (south door of Wulingyuan)
Route ②: Wujiayu Ticket Station (east door of Wulingyuan) or Zimugang Ticket Station (south door of Wulingyuan) - Golden Whip Stream (金鞭溪) - Oxygen Square (氧吧广场) - Huangshi Village (黄石寨) - Oxygen Square (氧吧广场) - Forest Park Ticket Station (southwest door of Wulingyuan)
Time needed: one day
The closest ticket station to the park is Forest Park Ticket Station in the southwest edge of Wulingyuan. Therefore, you could start you hiking tour from Forest Park Ticket Station. After enter the station and walk ahead for 300 meters around, you could see the Oxygen Square, a large and developed area where you could find a sign marking the entrance to the trail up to Huangshi Village and the trail to Golden Whip Stream. You are suggested to try the trail to Huangshi Village first. The ascent takes about an hour. And the trail at the top of Huangshi Village is a loop, which takes about 3 hours in total to finish. After the Huangshi Village tour, head down and hike back to the Oxygen Square to have your lunch and start your Golden Whip Stream hiking tour. Notice there are two routes to get down from the village. If you couldn’t find the original way, follow the first descending staircase you see and you will find the lower station of the Huangshi Village Cable Car at the route end. From here, you can hop on a free sightseeing bus to get back to the Oxygen Square. The bus journey takes only about 3 minutes.
Have a break at the Oxygen Square, and then it’s time to set out northeast to Golden Whip Stream. The hiking trail along the stream is much flatter than the one up to Huangshi Village. It usually takes 2.5 hours around trekking from the square to the end of this classic hiking route. At the end, you could take a free sightseeing bus at Shui Rao Si Men (水绕四门) to Zimugang Ticket Station (梓木岗门票站) or Wujiayu Ticket Station (吴家裕票站) to get out the park.
1. As it takes about 2.5 hours just to hike along the Golden Whip Stream, you could save energy to get up and down Huangshi Village by riding the cable car, which needs extra fee for about CNY 65 for a single trip and CNY 118 for a round trip.
2. Remember not to take any food in your hand in case that you are hurt by the wild monkeys. There are many monkeys on both the trail to Huangshi Village and along Golden Whip Stream.
3. You must finish the 2.5-hour Golden Whip Stream hiking by your feet as there is no sightseeing bus along the way.
4. If you are going to stay at Zhangjiajie City center area at night, you are suggested to get out from Zimugang Ticket Station. Otherwise, you are suggested to get out from Wujiayu Ticket Station.
Yuanjiajie is in the central area of Wulingyuan. Here, you could find the tallest outdoor lift - Bailong Elevator, cliff-connecting natural bridge and the most spectacular Hallelujah Mountains. The South Sky Pillar (南天一柱) there, also known as the Pillar between Heaven and Earth, is the prototype of “Pandora” depicted in the highest-grossing film Avatar.Yuanjiajie Hiking Map
Route ① (4-5 hours): Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station - Shui Rao Si Men (水绕四门) - Bailong Elevator (百龙电梯) - Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥) - Backyard Garden (后花园) - Getting Together From Far Away (千里相会) - Winding Four Gates (水绕四门) - Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station
Route ② (5-6 hours around): Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station - Shui Rao Si Men (水绕四门) - Getting Together From Far Away (千里相会) - Backyard Garden (后花园) - Ecstasy Terrace (迷魂台) - Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥) - Bailong Elevator Upper Station (百龙电梯) - Shui Rao Si Men (水绕四门) - Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station
Route ③ (one day): Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station - Shui Rao Si Men (水绕四门) - Bailong Elevator (百龙电梯) - Backyard Garden (后花园) - Ecstasy Terrace (迷魂台) - Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥) - Tianzi Mountain - Wujiayu Ticket Station
Route ④ (one day): Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station - Shui Rao Si Men (水绕四门) - Bailong Elevator - Backyard Garden (后花园) - Ecstasy Terrace (迷魂台) - Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥) - Yangjiajie - Forest Park Ticket Station
To start your Yuanjiajie hiking journey, you are suggested to get in Wulingyuan Scenic Area from Zimugang Ticket Station or Wujiayu Ticket Station. Take a free sightseeing bus from the ticket station to Water Winding Four Gates (水绕四门). Walk to the lower station of Bailong Elevator to catch this tallest outdoor lift in the world to the mountain top of Yuanjiajie. At the top, enjoy a 2-hour hiking trip to visit places like the Ecstasy Terrace (迷魂台), Hallelujah Mountain (哈利路亚山) and the Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥). When finished, take the path near the bridge back down the mountain. On the way, you will pass a bridge, Ecstasy Terrace (迷魂台), Backyard Garden (后花园), and finally arrive at Getting Together From Far Away (千里相会). It takes about 1-1.5 hours to complete. Getting Together From Far Away (千里相会) is the middle station of Golden Whip Stream. Hiking along the steam and you will travel back to Water Winding Four Gates (水绕四门) in about 1 hour. Finally, take another free bus back to the ticket station. If you prefer hiking up the mountain instead of hiking down, you could have a walking along the stream first and then climb up to the top of the mountain. Finally, catch the Bailong Elevator down the mountain.
If you are looking for a longer journey at this day, you could jump on a free sightseeing bus at the bridge to Tianmen Mountain or Yangjiajie. Have a hiking tour there and then ride cable cars to get down and get out the scenic area.
Tianzi Mountain settled at the northwest part of Wulingyuan is the best place to appreciate those mountain tops surrounded by mysterious fog. It is such a unique experience to have stunning bird view of the Hallelujah Mountains at Tianzi Mountain. You are in no way prepared for the amazement and awe that you would experience!Tianzi Mountain Hiking
Route ① (Yuanjiajie + Tianmen Mountain): Yuanjiajie - Helong Park (贺龙公园) - Dianjiang Terrace (点将台) - Tianzi Pavilion (天子阁) - Tianzi Mountain Cable Car Upper Station or Southern Heavenly Gate (南天门) - Wulingyuan Ticket Station
A Tianzi Mountain hiking trip is usually combined with Yuanjiajie hiking. After the Yuanjiajie tour, hop on a free sightseeing bus at the Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥) and get off at Helong Park (贺龙公园). The bus journey needs about 40 minutes. Take a 20-minutes' trek to Dianjiang Terrace (点将台). Stopping for a while at a small lookout platform, and enjoy the amazing misty scenery of Xihai Peak Forest (西海峰林). Then return to the Helong Park and keep hiking to Tianzi Pavilion. If you get tired, you could travel to the upper station of Tianzi Mountain Cable Car and ride the cable car for a descent. If you want to go down by foot, choose the trail near Tianzi Pavilion down. Remember the trail splits into two there. The one go to Southern Heavenly Gate is shorter, requiring about 1 hour to finish. The other one go to Three Sisters Peak is longer and is linking with Ten-mile Gallery. If you choose the longer way, it needs about 2-3 hours to complete. Closer to the bottom, you will find free sightseeing buses to get out.
Route ② (Tianmen Mountain Only): Wulingyuan Ticket Station - Ten-mile Gallery - Three Sisters Peak (三姐妹) - Tianzi Pavilion (天子阁) - Helong Park (贺龙公园) - Dianjiang Terrace (点将台) - Tianzi Pavilion (天子阁) - Tianzi Mountain Cable Car Upper Station or Southern Heavenly Gate (南天门) - Wulingyuan Ticket Station
Some tourists also choose to spend one day to explore Tianmen Mountain alone. One the day, catch a sightseeing bus to Ten-mile Gallery. Walk alongside the Sightseeing Mini-Tram railway and turn right at Three Sisters Peak (三姐妹) to start the ascent up. Once on the top, spend about 2-3 hours to have a round hiking trip. Finally, return to the Tianzi Pavilion area and then take the other path back down the mountain.
Yangjiajie is the newly discovered and the smallest area of Wulinyuan. The pillars there take on a different shape to those you can see in other parts of Wulingyuan, like Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie. Rather than being that tall, narrow and straight, the pillars in this area gather and stand like a wall. This is because the erosion process in Yangjiajie hasn't reached the same stage as elsewhere in Wulingyuan.
Though most of the hiking trails are well-paved stone road in yangjiajie, sometimes you have to squeeze through narrow crevices and shimmy up a rickety steel ladder there. Therefore, Yangjiajie hiking is more recommended for the big fans for hiking.Yangjiajie Hiking
Route (Yuanjiajie + Yangjiajie): Yuanjiajie - Natural Great Wall (天然长城) - Wulong Village (乌龙寨) - Tianbo Mansion (天波府) - One Step To The Heaven (一步登天) - Forest Park Ticket Station
Time needed: 6-7 hours
Get from Yuanjiajie to Yangjiajie by free sightseeing bus needs only about 20 minutes. Therefore, after the Yuanjiajie tour, you could catch a bus at the Greatest Natural Bridge (天下第一桥) and get off at the upper station of Yangjiajie Cable Car. When arrived, visit the nearby Natural Great Wall (天然长城), and then hike to Wulong Village (乌龙寨) and Tianbo Mansion (天波府). After the visit, return the same way you came and make an turn at an intersection to explore One Step To The Heaven (一步登天) and Air Corridor (空中走廊). When finished, you can follow the path near Air Corridor to make descent. The descent needs about 1.5 hours by hiking.
Tianmen Mountain is another landmark of Zhangjiajie. Unlike the hiking trails leading up and down the hills in Wulingyuan Scenic Area, the trails in Tianmen Mountain are much more challenging. It is not said that these trails are steep or never-ending, but because most of them are narrow and embedded in vertical cliffs high above the air. Besides, some of them are paved with transparent glasses! You couldn’t image how thrilling it is until you get there! So if you are adventurous lovers or big fans of hiking, hiking along the breathtaking trails on the cliff there simply can’t be missed!
Route A: Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Upper Station - West Line - East Line - Tianmen Cave - 99 Bends Sightseeing Bus
Route B: 99 Bends Sightseeing Bus - Tianmen Cave - East Line - West Line - Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Upper Station
Route C: Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Upper Station - West Line & East Line (at random) - Tianmen Cave - Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Upper Station
There is no hiking trail available for you to climb up and down the mountain. All the tourists are required to take cable car or 99 bends sightseeing bus to visit it. The cable car can take you to the mountain top directly. And the sightseeing bus can drive you to Tianmen Cave Parking Lot. On the mountain top, there is a loop, which can be divided into two parts, including the West Line and the East Line. If you ride a cable car to the mountain top, you are suggested to visit the West Line first (Route A), and explore the East Line first if you choose the sightseeing buses (Route B), and then there won’t be any retrograde steps during the way. During some extremely cold days in winter, these sightseeing buses may be suspended, so you should follow the Route C to climb up and down the mountain by cable car.
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is about 40 minutes' drive from the east gate of Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Here, you could find the world’s highest and longest Glass-bottomed Bridge - Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge. The Glass Bridge is attractive enough for a canyon hiking tour. However, the surprise never ends there. There are also cliff-hanging walkways, streams, lake… If you like, you could also spend 2-3 hours more to explore the surrounding natural scenery of the canyon after visited the Glass Bridge.
Route ①: Tourist Center (entrance) - Glass Bridge - Exit
Route ②: Tourist Center (entrance) - Glass Bridge - Rainbow Square (彩虹广场) - Cliff-hanging Walkways (天悬栈道) - God Springs Lake (神泉湖) - Exit
Warm tip: the ticket price of visiting the glass bridge only and visiting the bridge and canyon together is different. It charges about CNY 138 for the Glass Bridge only, CNY 256 for the Glass Bridge and Grand Canyon together.
Zhangjiajie is a beautiful place that allows year-round visiting. And the best time to explore its stunning natural scenery is from April to October. Summer is hot in Zhangjiajie city. However, it is still pleasant to do hiking in its scenic areas like Wulingyuan and Tianmen Mountain, as you could avoid the heat under the shelter of lush trees. At midday of summer days, the hiking on the Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is really hot, so try to arrange your glass bridge hiking at the morning or the afternoon.
Get more info of Zhangjiajie Weather & Best Time to Visit >>
Most of the attractions like Wulingyuan Scenic Area and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon are settled with some long distances from Zhangjiajie downtown. Therefore, living in the downtown area isn’t always the perfect choice for your hiking tour. You need to choose the hotel according to where you are going to visit and how many days you will stay in Zhangjiajie.
Usually, Zhangjiajie downtown area is perfect for visitors who want to explore Tianmen Mountain, because the starting point of the Tianmen Mountain cable car and 99 Bends sightseeing bus is at the junction of Dayong Road and Yinbin Road in the city center. If you want to enjoy hiking at both Wulingyuan Scenic Area and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, you could narrow the results down to hotels in Wulingyuan District central area.
Know more details of Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie >>
1. Make sure that you keep your hard card ticket of Wulingyuan Scenic Area safe, because you will need it to enter each day.
2. Wear comfortable walking shoes, because there are many steps waiting for you.
3. Try to avoid to do hiking in heavily rainy days, as it is not a wise choice to walk under the trees when rains.
4. Take enough money (CNY) and a map with you in case you are in need. Check more about Zhangjiajie Packing List >>
5. Try at least one of these ropeways in Wulingyuan Scenic Area to experience the unique angel of appreciating finger-like projections and rest your leg a bit.
An in-depth Zhangjiajie hiking tour needs at least 4 days, including 2 days to explore Wulingyuan Scenic Area, one day to visit Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge and one day to Tianmen Mountain.
>> 4 Days Zhangjiajie Highlights Tour with Fantastic Hiking Experience (Route A with Tianmen Mountain)
>> 4 Days Zhangjiajie Exciting Adventure with Glass Bridge
If you want to encounter with more natural surprises, you could spend one day more in Wulingyuan or to explore the karst landscape of Yellow Dragon Cave.
However, if you are in hurry and don’t have enough time to explore all these treasures in Zhangjiajie, you are suggested to spend at least two days to create lifelong happy memories in Wulingyuan.
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >