Click on the photos to enlarge.

The hostel is located on the edge of Lao Jun Shan National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Close to the "3 parallel rivers", one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, the variety of plants in the park is a botanist's dream. The valleys rise steeply with the highest peak being around 4500m above sea level and covered in snow for most of the year. Scattered across the mountains are tiny villages and hamlets which have remained relatively unaffected by the economic development. The people here are poor, living simple lives and making a living off the land. They have acquired extensive knowledge of the wild plants, supplementing their incomes by collecting medicinal roots, herbs and wild mushrooms for sale in Shigu and other market towns. They are extremely friendly and welcoming to travellers, always inviting them into their homes with offerings of tea, walnuts or fruit.

We have only just started to explore and map the surroundings. Once we have the time, we hope to find some multi-day routes which take in the best of the mountain scenery, with accommodation and food provided by the villagers.

For now we have descriptions of a few half day and full day walks, as well as a three day walk for which you will need to carry food and camping gear.

Segu to Dagu Loop

11km / 1150m elevation gain / 5 to 8 hours

Download the GPX track

This is our top recommendation for a full day walk. It starts and finishes at the guest house and is a good length for a full day out in the mountains.

It follows obvious well walked trails the whole way, but there are lots of places where you could easily turn off the main trail by accident. Therefore, you should download the gpx file and be familiar with following a gps trail on your phone.

The pictures below were taken when we did the walk in December. At this time it is usually clear and sunny with amazing views across the mountains.

Take care, there a couple of sections that are steep and can be slippery when wet.

Da Gu Mountain 达古山

Directly behind the guest house and the village of Damaidi a valley runs steeply to the north. After 5km and 900 metres of ascent you come to the village of Dagu. The way is green and lush, with all kinds of plants, flowers, birds and butterflies.

For many people this is suitable stopping point, and a return trip to Dagu takes 3 to 5 hours, and is a worthwhile walk in itself.

If you want to go further then one option is to follow the dirt track from behind the village all the way to the village of Xinhua. This gives great views of the Yangtze river, and on clear days it is possible to see Jade Dragon Mountain. This walk is 20km in total and takes 6 to 8 hours. The 20km taxi ride back from Xinhua costs 100rmb

If you have the legs then Dagu is actually only half way the summit which is at 3750m. From Dagu the path runs north-west and the terrain becomes more alpine with grazing meadows and rocky outcrops. With a total ascent of almost 2000m this is a strenuous hike but worth it on a clear day with incredible views.

And for the ultimate in leg sapping adventures it is possible to make a full loop to the summit above Dagu, then continue north-west along the ridge before heading south to the village of Yangpo. The descent goes through sections of old-growth forest with huge trees. It is steep and rocky and should not be attempted in the wet season.

To Dagu Village and back

11km / 900m elevation gain / 3 to 5 hours

Download the GPX track

A great walk starting from the guest house that can be done in a half day. It follows a well made path through a narrow valley to the small Lisu minority village of DaGu at a height of 2800m. Until recently this path was the only way to the village. Now they have a dirt road from the other side of the mountains making it much easier for them to bring heavier supplies, but it is still quicker for them to walk down the path when going to the market in Shigu to trade their produce.

The following pictures were taken in the summer which is the rainy season. It is green and lush at this time of year.

To Dagu summit and back

18 to 20km / Around 1800m elevation gain / 8 to 12 hours

Download the GPX track

Continue going up from Dagu village until you reach the grazing meadow, and eventually to a ridge running west. Depending on how far you want to keep going along the ridge, the return walk is 18 to 20km. There isn't much point going all the way along the ridge unless you plan on making the full loop down to Renhe. On a clear day it is possible to see Jade Dragon and Haba snow mountains.

To Dagu summit and down to Yangpo

20km / 1900m elevation gain / 8 to 12 hours

Download the GPX track

Follow the ridge running north before turning south down the forested valley to Yangpo. The top section of the valley has some original forest with huge pine trees. It is steep and slippery and should not be attempted in the rainy season. Eventually you come down to the village of Yangpo which is 6km from the guest house. A taxi back from there is 40RMB

Shizhi to Renyi

12km / 400m elevation gain / 700m elevation loss / 4 to 6 hours

Download the GPX track

Originally done as part of a mountain bike route, this day hike is a much easier alternative to the hikes above.
It has less ascent and doesn't have any steep sections, but with a maximum altitude of almost 3000m you still get to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery.
You will need transport to the start and the finish of the hike.
A taxi to the start is 60RMB and a pickup from the end is 100RMB.

Liju to Liming

3 Day Hike

Download the Description and Map

Access to this part of Laojunshan National Park is currently restricted. It is listed here for information purposes only. Please do not attempt this walk until this restriction is lifted. Doing so could jeapardise access for rock climbing and hiking in the Liming park area.

This 3 day hike starts from the village of Liju (40km from the hostel) and goes to HenDu near Liming.
It passes straight through Lao Jun Shan National Park which is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
To do the hike you need to carry camping equipment, food for 3 days, and have experience finding and filtering drinking water.
It passes through areas of real wilderness without cell phone coverage and crosses rock fields where it would be easy to sprain an ankle.
Also, it goes over 4000m so altitude sickness is a possibility, the weather can change quickly, and nighttime temperatures are sub-zero.

A big thanks to Matan and Aviv for writing the description and sharing the route. They did the walk in October 2019