Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour Tips

As the deepest gorge in the world, the scenery of Tiger Leaping Gorge is spectacular. Foreign backpackers started hiking in the area in the 1980s and now Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour has been one of the most famous hiking tour all around the world. From the top of Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can look down the steeply angled (70-90 degrees) mountain sides to the rushing Jinsha River with its 18 frothing rapids more than 200 meters below. 

1. Hike Trail of the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge

Usually it takes about 7 to 8 hours to finish the hiking of upper section of Tiger Leaping Gorge. Most travelers will choose to do it in two days, for enjoying the scenery while doing hiking. Below are recommended hiking routes.

Route 1: Stay overnight at Tea-horse Guesthouse

  • Arrive at Qiaotou between 09:00 and 10:00.
  • Hike about 4-5 hours to Tea-horse Guesthouse. Stay Overnight.
  • Next morning, enjoy the stunning sunrise of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and continue the hiking at 08:00.
  • Arrive at Half Way for a break. Then continue the hiking.
  • Arrive at Tina’s. Have lunch here and then hike down to visit the Middle Tiger Leaping Stone.

Route 2: Stay overnight at Naxi Family Guesthouse

  • Arrive at Qiaotou between 14:00 and 15:00.
  • Hike about 2 hours to Naxi Family for overnight.
  • Next morning, enjoy the sunrise of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and trek to the 28 bends.
  • Have lunch on the way and enjoy the splendid landscape.
  • Arrive at Tina’s in the late afternoon.

Please read more about Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tours.

2. Walking Time of Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking

Qiaotou(1800m) – Naxi Family(2200m)

Usually it takes about 1.5-2 hours. From Qiaotou, walk along the main road about 1km to the school. Take the narrow path beside school basketball courts, you will see a sign of High Trail on your left. Walk through two villages and then the path narrows after the village, rises gradually. Turns left into the Gorge. You can see the site of the Upper Tiger Leaping Stone several hundred meters down from the trail. Next village you will meet is Nuoyu village and you’ll get to Naxi Family Guesthouse.

Naxi Family(2200m) – Top of the 28 Bends(2670m)

This part will take about 2.5-3 hours. You will meet the most difficult part of trail – the 28 Bends which comes after Naxi Family Guesthouse. On the summit of the 28 bends, you’ll be rewarded by a magnificent panorama.

Top of the 28 Bends(2670m) – Tea-horse Guesthouse

Continue hiking about 30-1 hour, you’ll reach Tea-horse Trade Guesthouse. 

 Tea-horse Guesthouse – Half Way Guesthouse

Walk on a flat path for 1.5 hours. You will enjoy the most beautiful part of High Trail. 10 minutes before Half Way, the narrow trail meets a tractor road, keep the same direction as the contrary direction brings you down to the 14 km point on the Low Road.

Half Way Guesthouse – Tina’s Guesthouse

Two hours are needed for finishing this part. Several beautiful cascades and falls appear on the trail after Half Way. The most beautiful fall is called Quanyin Fall. Soon the Middle Gorge can be seen together with switchbacks of Low Road. There is a small climb leading you to a ridge at 2480m. Then the trail descends gradually to Tina’s Guesthouse. A shortcut to Zhang’s Guesthouse is marked by a sign on the trail. (See Middle Tiger Leaping Stone). 

3. Things to Know

Difficulty: Medium. Except the part from Naxi Family to the summit of 28 bends which is the toughest.
Food/Water: Local guesthouse provides food and water.
Route Mark: Red, yellow, black arrows marked by different guesthouses are found at each crossroad
When to Go: Spring, Autumn, Winter

4. Tips of Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking

  • Bring snacks with you if you tend to get hungry during treks. We took some dried fruits and nuts bought from a supermarket in Lijiang, and this was enough for us. Food can be bought at all the guest houses along the route.
  • Have at least 2 litres of water with you at all times. More is recommended. Again, you buy water at all the guest houses (5-10RMB per bottle). We carry a SteriPen, which allows us to sterilise tap and creek water, just to be safe.
  • Make sure you have wet weather gear, as it can change very quickly in Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • If trekking in winter (October to March), the temperature can, and will, plummet. Wear layers and gloves.
  • It is almost impossible to get lost along the way. Red and yellow arrows pointing to various guest houses are painted on stones periodically along the trail, as well as blue sign posts.
  • We met a guy on the trail who hitchhiked from Tina’s with no problem. This is another option if you don’t want to pay for the bus.
  • If you do take the bus from Tina’s, they will stop at Jane’s Guest House so you can grab your other backpack.

Keep Reading:

Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge Transportation
How to Travel to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Kunming
How to Get to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Shangrila
Where to Stay in Tiger Leaping Gorge
Weather in Tiger Leaping Gorge: The Best Season to Visit Tiger Leaping Gorge