The Museum of the Great Wall
It has been brought to our attention that some tour companies and travel books are claiming that the Simatai Great Wall is still open for hiking. However, in order to avoid any disappointment or wasted money and time, please be advised that THE SIMATAI GREAT WALL HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY CLOSED TO HIKERS, AND ANY ORGANIZATIONS CLAIMING OTHERWISE ARE DELIBERATELY MISLEADING YOU. We are posting this because we want you to know the whole truth, that way you can make an informed decision on your travel plans based on all of the available information. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding!
Simatai section of the Great Wall is closed for renovation from June 17, 2010. This is a very short notice from Miyun Government and Simatai Authority regarding the repair and renovation. Recently, from our internal source with the company who has been doing construction in Simatai, we were told the Simatai Section of the Great Wall will reopen in October 2014. However, we found from our inspection that Simatai will get closed from being accessible from Jinshanling. Our hiking cannot be resumed. And, opening only 10 watch tower is meaningless for a hike and you will NOT experience what Simatai should be experienced at all.
The Great Wall at Simatai retains its original appearance in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). With its fantastic scenery and precipitous topography, Simatai Great Wall is a remarkable place for sightseeing, hiking and exploration.
Simatai Great Wall is 5.4 km long (3.4 miles) with all together 35 watchtowers. On the east part of Simatai, the elevation goes abruptly up from 295 meters (968 ft) to 986 meters (3235 ft), making a breathtaking scene.
Simatai Great Wall was built along the steep mountain ridges, with Heavenly Ladder and Sky Bridge being the most thrilling parts. Heavenly Ladder is a steep and narrow (about 50cm/1.64ft at its narrowest point) wall that go up 85 degrees to the mountain peak, with cliffs on both sides. At its end is the Sky Bridge, which is not more than 100 meters (328 ft) long, but only 40 cm (1.3 ft) wide. When this part was being constructed, bricks were bundled on goats’ back to the mountaintop.
Visitors can admire Simatai Great Wall by ropeway, pulley, or boat. Simatai Great Wall is separated into two parts by Simatai Reservoir, over which a chain bridge runs through east to west. Another popular way is hiking. A popular hike is to traverse from Jinshanling to Simatai, which takes about 4 hours.
The average distance between two watchtowers is 100 – 200 meters (328 – 656 ft), with the nearest two only 44 meters (144 ft) from each other. This is very dense because the average distance is 500 meters (0.3 mile) for the Ming Dynasty Great Wall’s watchtowers.
What is interesting along Simatai is that, visitors can find a section laid with bricks carrying inscriptions that recorded the date on which they were made, and the code number of the armies who made them.
History of the Simatai Great Wall:
Its construction started in the early Hongwu years (1368-1398) of the Ming Dynasty. Like most sections of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall often visited today, this section was also built under the supervision of General Qi Jiguang (1528 - 1588).
Simatai Travel Essentials
Simatai is located about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Beijing (a 2 hour 30 minute journey from the city center). Great Wall Adventure Club uses high-quality air-conditioned private transport to take the hassle out of getting to the wall.
The steps of the Great Wall at Simatai are rather steep and at some points very narrow. Hikers need to be in good physical condition to complete this hike. However, there are options such as pulleys or ropeways to avoid trek up to the wall.
What to Wear:
Dress for hiking and dress for the weather. Choose comfortable footwear with good grip and support for the feet. Layers of clothes that can be taken on and off allow for greater comfort and temperature control.
Wear/bring sun protection in the summer and dress for sub zero temperatures in the winter. It can feel much colder on the wall than down in the valleys because of altitude and exposure.
What to Bring:
Bring breathable waterproofs for protection from rain and wind. Umbrellas may be used here as the ascents and descents are not difficult, but may be inconvenient in strong winds. Bring snacks and water if you want to walk a long portion of the wall.
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