A Visitor's Guide to Hiking and Trekking in the Yellow Mountains

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Huangshan (黄山)literally means yellow mountain in Mandarin. It is a scenic area that covers over 250 square kilometers (nearly 100 square miles). The mountains are characterized by their "grotesque" granite peaks and pine trees jutting out at odd angles. If you've ever seen a classical Chinese ink painting where the mountains are impossibly angular, then the painting was probably a landscape of the Yellow Mountains.

According to the Chinese Tourism authorities, Huangshan is famous for four its "four wonders": the wind-carved pines, spectacular granite peaks, a sea of clouds and hot springs. More often than not, Huangshan is shrouded in mist making it especially picturesque.

Huangshan is one of China's UNESCO World Heritage Sights.

It is called Yellow Mountain because, during the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Li Longji believed that the Yellow Emperor became immortal here so he changed the name from Black Mountain to Yellow Mountain.

For a fully detailed itinerary for visiting Huangshan and the surroundings read Two Days in Huangshan.


Huangshan is located in southern Anhui Province.

Getting There

Huangshan City is connected by bus, train, and airplane. Overnight trains are available from certain cities but flying into Huangshan is also popular. The airport is located about 70 km (or 44 miles) from the scenic area.

Touring Huangshan

There are two routes to the peaks. One is by cable car and the other is trekking. Each is discussed further below. It should be noted that however you decide to reach the top, you should discuss first with a local travel operator which will help you decide how much time you need to reach the peaks, how much time you need to get down and whether you are planning to spend the night at the top.

You don't want to be caught on the mountain unprepared so you should plan your trip rather carefully.

Huangshan Peaks by Cable Car:

There are three different cable cars that take visitors to different peaks within the mountain range. Lines for the cable cars can be very long during peak seasons so you should factor this into your trip. Cable cars stop operating after 4 pm so factor that into your plans as well.

Many visitors use the cable cars for one way and decide to walk/trek the other direction.

Trekking Huangshan

Mountain paths cover much for the mountain. Keep in mind these mountains have been trekked by millions of Chinese people for thousands of years so the paths are paved in stone and have stone steps. While this adds a level of civilization to your trek, it can make it more slippery in inclement weather (which is often) so you should wear the correct footwear.

Porters are available to take your bags if you are planning to spend the night at the peak. You can negotiate with them at the bottom. There are also sedan chairs for hire so if you decide you want to trek with someone else's legs, this is also possible.

What to See & Do

A visit to Huangshan is all about the scenery, particularly the sunrise.

People flock to the mountain to watch the sunrise over the misty peaks. China has a particular affinity for naming peaks, valleys, certain crags, certain trees, etc. with names that are reminiscent of other things. So you'll visit many places with interesting names such as Turtle Peak, Flying Rock and Begin-to-Believe Peak.

Huangshan Itinerary:

A typical overnight tour to Huangshan usually involves a cable car up to the top of one of the peaks early on Day 1. Checking into your hotel and then going for a trek to see some of the scenery. On Day 2, you get up before sunrise, camera in hand, to watch the magic of the sun coming over the peaks. You then spend the rest of the day trekking down. There are a number of hotels at various peaks on the mountains.

Huangshan in Modern Media:

Scenes of the popular movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were filmed in Huangshan.