Situated just 120 kilometers East of Xi’an City, in Shaanxi province, Huashan (华山) is one of China’s five sacred mountains and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s appreciated for the beautiful natural scenery and the ancient Taoist temples, but Huashan is most famous for the dangerous hiking trail to the summit.
Huashan Mountain has five peaks, which when looked from a certain angle make the mountain look like a flower (“hua” in Chinese). There’s the East Peak (Facing Sun Peak)(东峰), Middle Peak (中峰)(Jade Maiden Peak), West Peak (Lotus Peak)(西峰), North Peak (Cloud Terrace Peak)(北峰) and the South Peak (南峰), the tallest and most dangerous of them all. If you’re brave and lucky enough to reach its summit you are rewarded with an incredible view of the whole mountain complex. Yuquan Yuan (Jade Spring Temple) (玉泉院)
Usually tourists climb up the mountain assisted by the iron chains along the way and start their tour from Yuquan Yuan (Jade Spring Temple)(玉泉院), one of the main Taoist temples in China located at the foot of Mt. Huashan. It has the architectural style of the classical gardens in south China. There is a pond in the center and several pavilions around it. Walking through the Wuyou Pavilion, the Long Corridor of Seventy-two Windows comes into view, and afterwards Qingke Ping where a big rock called Huixin Rock(回心石) can be seen. It is said that Huixin Rock is a reminder for those who wish to stop their tour at this point. Beside the rock are the precipitous 370 rock steps called 'Qianchi Zhuang (千尺幢)' considered to be the primary breath-taking path of Mt. Huashan. When climbing, only a gleam of sky above can be seen, making climbers feel as if they were at the bottom of a well. North Peak (Cloud Terrace Peak)(北峰)
Across the Qianchi Zhuang (千尺幢) are two similar precipitous paths-respectively called 'Baichi Xia (百丈崖)' and Laojun Li (老君犁沟) above which climbers reach Mt. Huashan's North Peak. There are precipitous cliffs on all sides of North Peak, making it look like a flat terrace in the clouds, hence the name Cloud Terrace Peak. It is 1,614 meters (about 5,295 feet) high. Three sides are cliffs and one side is to the 'Ca'er (擦耳崖)(the ear rubbing the cliff) Cliff' which is the fourth precipitous path where tourists can climb up only by pressing an ear close to the cliff. In the waist of North Peak trees are luxuriantly green, creating a good rest spot. Jinsuo Guan (Gold Lock Pass) (金锁关) When climbing over the 'Blue Dragon Range', regarded as the must-pass way to the other four peaks from North Peak, travelers arrive at Gold Lock Pass. Mt. Huashan visitors know that it is customary to buy a golden lock, and then lock it in the iron chains on both sides of the Gold Lock Pass for families and friends to pray for their safety and health. It is a marvelous spectacle to see thousands of golden locks in the iron chains. Within the mountain gate of Gold Lock Pass, a huge golden lock of about 4 meters (about 4.37 yards) long and 1 .5 meters (about 1.64 yards) high stands in a big rock. It is made of pure copper and forged by 9,999 locks left by visitors. It is a popular photo site. This huge lock can only be opened by throwing coins - one coin represent the status of an ordinary person; three coins, a blessed person and nine coins a most blessed one. Gold Lock Pass is the throat to Middle Peak, East Peak, South Peak and West Peak. Middle Peak (Jade Maiden Peak)(中锋)
Middle Peak clings to East peak and is in the center of East, South and West Peaks. There is a Taoist temple in the peak named 'Jade Maiden Temple'. Legend has it that the daughter of Qin Mugong (569 B.C.-621 B.C.) loved a man who was good at playing Chinese tung-hsiao (vertical flute) and she gave up the royal life to become a hermit who cultivated her spirituality here, hence the name Jade Maiden Peak. Today Jade Maiden Temple and Jade Maiden Basin for Shampooing can be found on the peak. East Peak (Facing Sun Peak)(东峰)
Tour guides may promote climbing the mountain at night to see the sunrise. Climbing to the top of East Peak requires 4 to 6 hours. East Peak has an altitude of 2,090 meters (about 6,857 feet) forming a platform for visitors to view the sunrise. An astronomical telescope is provided here. The reference time for sunrise and sunset is 5:00a.m.-6:00a.m. in spring, 4:30a.m.-5:20a.m. in summer, 5:00a.m.-5:20a.m. in autumn, 5:30a.m.-6:00a.m. in winter.
Cable cars are available and take tourists to the northern summit of the mountain. If you want to challenge your endurance and physical strength then choose to climb the mountain. However, you are kindly advised to begin your arduous journey early in the morning, even before the sunrises, this way during your trek you can be lucky enough to nourish your aching body with the breath-taking sunrise which dances over the horizon when you reach the summit at morning. Direction By Train:
Get off at Huashan station, and walk 1.5km to Yuquanyuan or Jade Spring Temple (玉泉院). The train ticket is 10 Yuan from Xi'an to Mount Huashan. By Bus:
There are buses from Xi'an to Huashan. A popular place to get up is Xi'an's Yuxiangmen Bus Station. By Cable Car:
There is cable car service from Wamiaogou (瓦庙沟) to the north peak of Mount Huashan, which only takes about 7~8 minutes. You can walk to Wamiaogou (瓦庙沟) through a 8-km cement trail from Huangfuyu (皇甫峪), which is about 2 km to the east of Yuquanyuan (玉泉院). There is cable car service from Qingkeping (青柯坪) to the east peak of Mount Huashan. The one way ticket is 60 Yuan, and 110 Yuan for the round trip. On Foot:
Start from Yuquanyuan (玉泉院), pass Huixin Rock (回心石), Qianchi Zhuang (千尺幢), and Laojun Li (老君犁沟) and get to the North peak (北峰). Go south from here and pass the ear-rubbing cliff (擦耳崖), "韩退之投书处", and Gold Lock Pass (金锁关) to get to the middle peak (中峰)，From the middle peak, you can go to the East, South and West peaks. It usually takes 24 hours to climb and walk through all five peaks. If get to the top through cable car, it takes another 5 to 6 hours to walk through all five peaks. Some travelers start to climb from the foothill in the evening, and they can get to the top after 4~6 hours to watch the sunrise.