Steps in Huangshan Mountain

Huangshan Western Steps

The Western Steps pass through some of China's most jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, meandering past a series of peaks in Mount Huangshan: Celestial Capital, Jade Screen, Lotus Flower and Bright Summit - en route to the distinctive The Rock That Flying From Afar (Feilai Shi) and the Xihai (West Sea) with its early morning views of clouds filling rugged valleys.

The path is paved with stones, many of them forming steep stairs that can make for quite strenuous climbing. Along the way, you're likely to encounter throngs of other visitors during peak times and see countless engraved padlocks fastened to railings by lovers who have followed the custom of consecrating their attachment by leaving a symbol hanging in the mists of one of China's most romantic landscapes (you can purchase locks on site if so compelled).

If you walk the distance at a typical pace, the Western Steps generally takes around five to six hours to complete. You can pick up refreshments along the way, whether in hotel restaurants or from vendors. If you head north from the southern Jade Screen Peak Hotel (Yupinglou Binguan), you'll end up on the Peak Circuit, which can take you away from the crowds, toward the less-frequented Purple Cloud Peak. Heading south from Flying Rock, a massive stone block balancing on an outcropping, you'll eventually arrive at the Hot Springs Area after passing the peaks and Banshan and Ciguang Temples.

Cable cars provide shortcuts, dropping tourists off near either end of the steps. The Taiping Cable Car drops off at Pine Forest Peak, where a trail heads east toward the Peak Circuit and then south to the Steps. The Jade Screen Peak Cable Car takes tourists from the Hot Springs Area to the southern end of the Steps.

Huangshan Eastern Steps

The Eastern Steps proceed from the Cloud Valley Temple Cable Car southern terminal (730 meters above sea level). The trail continues north past White Goose Ridge , Beginning to Believe Peak and onto the mist-filled valley of Beihai (the North Sea).

There are a number of well marked points of interest along the way, including Jade Valley, which receives alpine runoff from Liandan Peak and Beginning to Believe Peak (so named. Legend has it that being the point where a skeptical visitor first realized that Huangshan is every bit as mind blowing as advertised). The valley features scores of small, colorful crystalline pools.

This route is less strenuous than the Western Steps, though some feel it is also less spectacular. The steps cover about 7.5 km (4.6 miles), making for a good three to four hours' hike. A popular full-day route through the mountains is to ascend the Eastern Steps, do the Peak Circuit, then descend via the lengthier Western Steps. The whole thing takes around 10 hours at a steady pace. An alternative is to stay in one of the hotels overlooking the Beihai, rising early to catch the sunrise over the mist-filled valleys before descending on the west side, to arrive at the Hot Spring Area (at which point, your legs could no doubt use a long hot soak).

You can reach the steps from the south via the access road connecting to the Hot Spring Area or from the eastern gate to Mount Huangshan. From the north, the trail connects with the Peak Circuit. If you'd rather float over the steps than walk them, take the Cloud Valley (Yungu) Cable Car.

Steps in Mount Huangshan

Steps Mountain Huangshan

Steps in Mount Huangshan

Steps in Yellow Mountain

Huangshan Steps