I spend a fair amount of time hiking around parts of Beijing, and recently spent a day hiking the Jinshanling section of Great Wall to the north of central Beijing. In the past, I visited the wall at Badaling, but the two trips cannot even be put into the same category. While Badaling is nothing short of a Great Wall Disneyland, Jinshanling is borderline empty, and many sections are in their original condition (built in the 14th century), making the experience feel quite a bit more authentic, if you will.
Along with authenticity comes a significant change in safety. On many section, there was little to no wall, and a remarkable drop. The builders of the wall did their best to place the structure along ridge lines, making it all the more difficult to attack. It was one of the best hikes I have been on in a long time, and though my knees paid for it dearly, it was a day well spent. You cannot tell from most of these pictures, but there are sections of stairs that are approaching 60 and 70 degrees in angle. Don’t slip, friends.