Tiger Leaping Gorge
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CBP 2003
 Home >> Destinations >> Yunnan >> Tiger Leaping Gorge >> High Trail

Tiger Leaping Gorge is no doubt an independent hiker's first choice in China. This magnificent gorge holds several peaks at both sides up to 6000 meters. 4000 meters vertically down from the summits flows the roaring Yangzi River (the longest river in China).

Having been adventured by western intrepid hikers since 1980s, the gorge used to offer two hiking footpaths: the High Trail and the Low Road. Today the Low Road was transformed into a vehicular road. Fortunately, the easily accessible High Trail, with well-marked signs, clean and friendly lodges, amazing landscapes, still offers a wonderful trek to any fit traveler who loves wild nature.

Tiger Leaping Gorge has evoked much controversy between the prosperity of tourism and the preservation of nature. I don't want to add any comment to this controversy. So far, the hikers are still able to enjoy the wild, isolated nature along the High Trail while the Low Road makes the gorge accessible to every tourist.

Entrance Ticket: Y50 (price in 2006)


All itineraries proposed here don't include the time you would spend in Lijiang and Zhongdian. You can find the following places in the map: Around Lijiang or in the scheme for traveling in the northwest Yunnan.

1. Lijiang - Qiaotou - High Trail - Middle Tiger Leaping Stone - Ferry - Daju - Yulong Snow Mountain (Maoniuping) - Lijiang.
Time: 3-4 Days. You can leave unnecessary luggage at the hotel in Lijiang. You won't be asked to pay the ticket of Yulong Snow Mountain (Y80.-) on your way from Daju to Lijiang. On the contrary, travelers in the bus heading from Lijiang to Daju have to pay the tickets.

2. Lijiang - Qiaotou - High Trail - Middle Tiger Leaping Stone / Upper Tiger Leaping Stone - Qiaotou - Lijiang / Zhongdian.
Time: 2 days.
Leave unnecessary luggage at a cafe in Qiaotou. After the trek, It's easy to catch a bus from Qiaotou to Lijiang / Zhongdian.

3. Lijiang - Qiaotou - High Trail - Middle Tiger Leaping Stone - Baishuitai , Haba Village - Zhongdian
Time: 3-4 days. This route is being frequented by group tourists while Baishuitai becomes more and more famous. Baishuitai is less spectacular than Huanglong Park in Sichuan. It is possible to hike from Tiger Leaping Gorge to Haba Village.
Naxi Family Guesthouse
on the High Trail can arrange such a trek with reasonable price. I personally don't like Baishuitai as this site has been developed to receive mass Chinese tourists sent by travel agencies. Another disadvantage of this route is that you have to carry all the luggage while hiking along the High Trail.

4. More aggressive itineraries for sophisticated hikers:
Lijiang - Qiaotou - High Trail - Middle Tiger Leaping Stone - Daju - Baoshan Shitoucheng (Stone village) - A / B.
A. Go back to Lijiang visit Yulong Snow Mountain on the way. Time: 5 days.
B. Hike / Horse trek to Lugu Lake* (3 - 5 days ) - go back to Lijiang or go to Xichang in Sichuan province.
* From Lugu Lake you can further hike to Yading Nature Reserve in Daocheng Sichuan. (7-8 days), or to Muli Tibetan County.

The tragedy of Tiger Leaping Gorge by Simon Winchester
The conflict between environmental preservations and tourism developments.

The author of Talesofasia traveled twice to this amazing Gorge. Read his stories.
Low Road:

During my first visit in 1995, the Low Road was still a one-meter-wide footpath zigzagging along awesome precipices on the west bank of Yangzi River. The 6000-meter-high peak of Yulong Mountain could not be spotted from the Low Road. We walked two hours from Qiaotou to the Upper Tiger Leaping Stone along the Low Road where we encountered many grooms and their horses carrying supplies to the villages in the gorge.

Today, the footpath was transformed into a vehicular road haunted by countless tour buses and cars. Nowadays, hikers would hardly like to trek along the dangerous Low Road due to frequent rockslides and noisy vehicles.

Things to see:

Middle Tiger Leaping Stone: Worth a visit.
This sight is located more than 500 meters vertically down from Tina's Guesthouse. A round trip from Tina's Guesthouse takes 3 hours, not including the time you will spend at Sandy's House beside astonishing roaring rapids. There are two routes:

  • Route 1: a sheer footpath descending directly in the Middle Gorge near Tina's Guesthouse to the river bank. I happened to meet several aggressive young men who had just come back from this footpath and said it was extremely slippery and steep. So I took the second route.
  • Route 2: walk along the main road to Zhang's Guesthouse and take a narrow footpath descending to the gorge. Zhang recommends visitors to hire a guide for Y30.-. It is absolutely not necessary. Before reaching Sandy's house, you have to pass a wooden bridge over a roaring cascade, a breathtaking crossing.

    Sandy's house sales drinks at reasonable prices. Don't miss their toilet where you enjoy an amazing view over the roaring rapids.

Upper Tiger Leaping Stone: It is not worth a visit If you have already seen the Middle Tiger Leaping Stone.
This sight can be reached from both sides of the river.

  • On the Low Road, the sight is located 9 km from Qiaotou. From Lijiang, there is a bus leaving Main bus station at 8:30 for Tiger leaping Stone, terminating in front of this site.
  • On the east bank, the road is frequented only by tour groups, but not accessible by any public bus.

Walnut Grove along the Low Road, once a peaceful village where hikers used to spend a night on the way to Daju or Haba. While terminating the High Trail at Tina's Guesthouse, hikers can find a bus or taxi easily to go to Baishuitai or the ferry for Daju. No more need to walk along the Low Road to Walnut Grove.

Getting there and away:
There are three ways to reach this beautiful gorge: (Map - Click here)

1. Qiaotou (recently changed its name to Hutiao Xia, which means Tiger Leaping Gorge).

From Lijiang 'Guluwan' north bus station, take a Zhongdian bus and get off at Qiaotou. Five daily buses: three times in the morning and twice in the early afternoon.

The trip usually takes 2 hours. However, my bus driver used almost 3 hours. He stopped once, and wanted to buy apples from local farmers, but didn't manage to obtain his price. He made his deal during the second time he stopped for apple-hunting. One hour later, he went home, leaving his bus and all passengers on the road for 25 minutes.

If you come from Zhongdian, take a Lijiang bus and get off at Qiaotou after usually a three-hour ride, more than five buses a day.

If you quit Qiaotou for Lijiang or Zhongdian, you can wait for a bus along the main road near the bridge. Between 9:30 to 15:00, there are numerous buses passing through Qiaotou for both directions.

News: From Lijiang Bus Station, there is a direct bus for Qiaotou leaving Lijiang at 8:30 everyday. (Y13.)

2. Daju. See Daju - Getting there and away.

3. Baishuitai. (Haba village)

One mini bus leaves from Zhongdian for Baishuitai at 7:30. You can stay at Haba village and take a bus next day from Baishuitai to Lijiang which passes through the Low Road of the Gorge. Tourists in Zhongdian would prefer to rent a car in order to visit Baishuitai during the day and enter into the gorge from north in the late afternoon. It costs around Y400.-.

Along the Low Road, you can wait for the bus departing from Lijiang at 9:00 in the morning for Baishuitai, passing Tina's Guesthouse at noon.

High Trail:
Spending a night in one of these three peaceful, friendly, cheap, clean and beautiful guesthouses, nestled in a wild, awesome landscape, away from the noisy Low Road intruded by thousands of tourists, is a unique experience that you would hardly find elsewhere in China. Take a hot shower, enjoy a nice meal at their courtyard while looking up at snowcapped peaks rising 3000 meters from the roof of the guesthouse.

Naxi Family Guesthouse

Tea-horse Trade Guesthouse

Half Way Guesthouse.

Low Road:
Tina's Guesthouse
, Tel. 0887-8806638, 8806079.
Tina's is located at the junction of High Trail and Low Road. From Tina's, a round trip to the rapids of Middle Tiger Leaping Stone takes 21/2 to 3 hours.
It's easy to hitchhike a mini bus in front of Tina's to go to Qiaotou or to the ferry. Tina's car goes to Qiaotou every morning.
Run by the relatives of High Way and Tea-horse's owners, Tina's offers the same standard rooms and services: Y20.- for a single room, Y10.- per person for other rooms, 24-hour hot shower.

Zhang's Guesthouse is located 100 meters lower than Tina's on the Low Road. It's said that the footpath down to the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge from Zhang's Guesthouse was restored by Zhang's family. The guesthouse has a good location and enjoy a nice view.

Wulnut Grove: If you hike further to the ferry along the Low Road, you will pass Sean's Spring Guesthouse and Chateau de Woody, As I went back to Qiaotou from Tina's, I can't give any comment on these two guesthouses.


See Daju - Accommodations.

Map: Around Lijiang
CBP 2003
Traveled to Tiger Leaping Gorge in September 2003
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