Hongyan Ridge Hiking
Hongyan Ridge is called Hongyan Ding in Chinese. It is a mountain ridge line at the altitude of 3000 meters located by the east of Minya Konka Mountain Range. Hongyan Ridge is located 250km southwest to the city of Chengdu that one travels about half a day to get to. Hongyan Ridge provides one of the best view places of the big mountains of Minya Konka and a fine/hard walking near Chengdu. It is a complete wild place that has attracted many hikers to come here. Hongyan Ridge is not known as a famous tourist place but it’s getting popular for hikers and photo lovers. The hiking to Hongyan Ridge is one of the hardest hikes near Chengdu and a rewarding one.
Hongya Ridge Hiking Above the Cloud
Hongya Ridge Hiking Camping
Hongyan Ridge Hiking
Hongya Ridge Hiking Above the Cloud
Hongyan Ridge is located 250km southwest to Chengdu, a drive of 4 hours will get you to the base of its hiking trail. The town of Ya’an is located 115km east to Hongyan Ridge, it takes 2 and half hours’ drive to get to Hongyan Ridge from Ya’an. Hongyan Ridge is often referred as a place located in Luding, a town 40km to its north of about 1 hour’s drive away. The area where Hongyan Ridge is located is called Erlang Mountain, a former natural barrier between the traditional China and Tibet.
To get to Hongyan Ridge, the only way is by driving. There are no flights, trains available.
By driving you can use a public bus, that you can find at Chengdu Xinnanmen Bus Station, to get to Luding Town first, and then from there you need to hire a local car to get the road end of Hongyan Ridge where you start to hike. Coming back will be the same way and same methods of transferring. This way saves money but it takes more time of waiting and finding cars, etc (approximately 6 hours or more, and when you come back, there may not be buses available). To save time and make everything more efficient is to hire a car from Chengdu all the way to the road end and start hiking.
Map of Hongyan Ridge Hiking
About the Hiking Trail
Hongyan Ridge is a hiking of proper adventure walking style. The hiking trail is wild horse trail, recognizable but not paved. Hongyan Ridge refers to the ridgeline on the top while from the start of walking it is in the forest for the first half. The trail is sometimes steep and slippery in wet conditions. If you are traveling on weekends you will probably see other guided hikers but if you are not traveling on weekends you are recommended to use a guide. For the second part of the hiking you will be exposed and good chances to see great views of the mountains and valleys below. The last bit of walking is very steep and slippery due to loosen sands although using the switchbacked trail helps. The top of the ridgeline is often windy and colder than the base. There are splits of trails on half way, make sure you head to the right direction.
About the Altitude
At the start of hiking the altitude is at 2800m, it is pretty high compared to other hikings. End of hiking is at 3400m on the ridge. Total elevation gain is about 500 meters. Usually it takes about 3-4 hours of walking time to reach the top. Our former experience is mountain sickness is rare since everyone walked from the base to the top that your body has already acclimated to the altitude through walking. But if you are not certain you can always use AMS medicine.
Tips to avoid altitude sickness:
drink more water and keep yourself hydrated all the time
keep your warm clothes handy and ready to wear them when you are not moving
use a hat to protect your head against the wind
proper eating and sleeping at former night
extra base layer for changing if the other one gets wet
Total walking is about 4km going up from base of the ridge to top of the ridge. Coming back will be the same 4km.
This hiking is available all year round at Hongyan Ridge. In the winter time and spring time there is snow at higher part of the trail and even at the lower part of the trail. But it is still okay to walk on although you are recommended to bring some simple crampons for any icy part there may be. Hongyan Ridge is located on the eastern edge of Tibetan Plateau where the weather is drier but it often gets warm air from the east and south from the Dadu River Valley where the rain cloud accumulates and that causes rainfall or snowfall. The wet season being some weeks in March and July/August. Dry season is from October to the next February. Weather is rather unpredictable since the altitude is high and the altitude difference is big: at the bottom of the valley the altitude is at a mere 1250 meters while at the top of the mountains around the highest is at 7550 meters. Dramatic altitude difference provides stunning atmospheric scenery such as sea of clouds but also unpredictable weather conditions.
The temperature at Hongyan Ridge is at 10-15 C during day time while drops below 0C at night in winter and spring time. In Summer and Fall the temperature during day time can reach over 20C and at night above 0 C. Note there is a big difference on temperature between day time and night time at such altitude. It is often windy at the top and weather changes quickly. Sun can get really strong so prepare sun block and sun-glasses.
Planning Ideas/Time Required
To do Hongyan Ridge Hiking it requires a minimum of 2 days starting and ending in Chengdu.
The car ride from Chengdu to arrive at the hiking trail end is about 250km and takes 4-5 hours to get to. Normally one starts in the morning by 8am and will arrive there by noon. Plus a stop to eat lunch somewhere, you will normally start the walking by around 1pm to 2pm. As it has said above the total walking is about 4km and 3-4 hours, you will arrive at the top by around 5pm to 6pm. Then you will stay one night at the top either using your own tent or share the big bunk in the hut. The next morning after watch sunrise, walk back the same and drive back the same way and arrive back Chengdu by around 4pm to 5pm.
Note that if you use public transport, you’d probably arrive the hiking trail end by around 2pmopr later. And when you come back, there may not be buses going back to Chengdu so you will have to wait for another day.
You are recommended to hire a guide from us to do this hike or to join in one of the Chinese groups to do the hike. It is safe and time-efficient to hire guide/driver to do this hiking.
There is no ticket required to enter Hongyan Ridge.
There is horse riding service available that costs you around 500 yuan to send you to the top on a horse back.
About Accommodations/Food of Hiking Hongyan Ridge
Before and after the hiking there are places where you can make stops along the way for lunch, to buy bottled water, snacks, etc. During the hiking, there are no restaurants, no hotels, no villages. It is complete wild place so you need to prepare your own food for 1 night and 1 breakfast, or to have your guide to prepare them for you if you use our service. For drinking water you need to take care that by yourself as there are no water sold anywhere along the hiking trail and there is no water source anywhere by the ridge. Although there is a simple shop selling simple snacks and water by the top but it may not be open at some time. Please note that there are zero water source by the ridge, please prepare enough water for the night and the next morning.
There are no modern houses up the ridge but basic huts with shared bunks. The hut has usually quilts and blankets for you to use to keep warm. The hut is usually shared by other hikers and during weekend there are usually lots of people and can be crowded and noisy.
Camping is also an option for overnight. In our guided hiking tour to Hongyan Ridge, you will do camping instead of staying in the hut. By camping you can choose wherever you want to camp and it is usually quiet and clean.
Names of locations/places of Hongyan Ridge Hiking in Chinese and English
Hongyan Ridge: 红岩顶
Xinnanmen Bus Station: 新南门汽车站
Luding Town: 泸定县
Erlang Mountain: 二郎山
Trail End (start of hiking): 干海子