Huang Shan Summit (Peak Circuit)

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The crowning glory of Huang Shan is the rough circle of peaks Purple Cloud Peak, Pine Forest Peak and Bright Summit Peak—arranged around Tianhai Lake and overlooking two of Huang Shan's "seas" of clouds, the Beihai to the north and the Xihai to the west. Whether you arrive from the Eastern or Western Steps via the Taiping Cable Car, you'll find yourself surrounded by stunning sights as you work your way along the trail.

In addition to the circuit that links up with the Western Steps on the south end and a pair of trails breaking east toward the northern terminal of the Cloud Valley Cable Car, several trails break off toward more isolated—and less crowded—points. You can head north toward Purple Cloud Peak or cut east toward the more distant Shixin Peak, which affords a fantastic view of mountain streams cutting through pristine woods below spectacular rock spires.

The area, often generally referred to as the "summit," can either be part of a long day's hike (about 10 hours if you do both sets of steps and maintain a steady pace) or it can be an overnight destination. The Behai Hotel is just one of several hotels good for a hot meal and a warm bed after a day of hiking, though you'll want to get up early to catch the sunrise over the sea of clouds (see our Huang Shan hotel listings for more options). Note that there's also a Bank of China ATM near the Behai Hotel.

 

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