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Getting away: Changchong Mountain

By in Travel on

Kunming residents may have noticed a tall, barren mountain dotted with white stone that projects to the north of the Green Lake area and to the west of Beichen.

This is the 2,345 meter-high Changchong Mountain (长虫山), which provides a convenient way to get out of town, see some nature, and get panoramic views of Kunming—in a much more relaxed atmosphere than the occasionally circus-like Xishan.

Changchong Mountain has hiking paths and a road that allows people to drive almost all the way to the top, but a big draw for local cyclists is that it provides the most grueling bicycle ascent anywhere near Kunming.

To get to the base of the mountain from the Green Lake area, go east on Yieryi Dajie to the traffic interchange and then head north on Longquan Lu (龙泉路) for about six kilometers—until reaching the mouth of Hongyun Lu (红云路), shortly after passing the Kunming Cigarette Factory (昆明卷烟厂) on the left side.

Across from the mouth of Hongyun Lu, there is a small road that runs west and uphill, skirting the side of the cigarette factory (photo at left). This is the road to the top of the mountain. If when following this road you are inundated with the sickly sweet smell of cured tobacco, you are on the right track.

Hikers could also take the number 84 bus north from the Jianshe Lu (建设路) bus stop to the Shangzhuang (上庄) stop, which will place you on Hongyun Lu, about 100 meters east from the road up the mountain.

After a short but very steep paved climb, you will pass through a gate (photo at left) where you may be required to register at a fire protection checkpoint (name, phone number, and entry time). From here, continue upward, taking the uphill and most worn branch of the road when in doubt. There is also a hiking trail that branches off to the left shortly after the gate and cuts through the switchbacks of the road.

Eventually you will pass the construction site of a new visitor center and arrive at a stone post labeled "Changchong Mountain Ecology Park" in an amusing hybrid of simplified and traditional characters (長虫山生态公園). Take a left here.

You will soon see the peak of the mountain and it is easy enough to find one's own way to the top.

Upon reaching the top you will be more than 450 vertical meters higher than Green Lake, and if you have been cycling continuously from the cigarette factory, your legs will be on fire and you'll be gasping for breath.

Barring smog or fog, your reward for the climb will be a 360-degree view of Kunming, Xishan, and the forested hills to the north.

On the way back, cyclists can follow an alternate route by going right and through a quarry a few hundred yards below the stone post. Follow this road downhill. It will eventually dump you out further south on Longquan Lu.

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very good finding, and thanks for the sharing!

There used to be a funny rock at the top with "I love you" painted in white on it, facing the Kunming view... Decided to hike this mountain in 2006 because it was the coolest thing visible from our 6th floor living room window. Good decision. No maps just following the mountain and general direction instinct. Awesome place!

Nice place to get out of the city! Anyone would be insterested in going hiking together next Saturday? Email me at amelielinc@gmail.com.

Good info. Bear in mind that if you stay up there for sunset and then come down at night that there are large construction trucks using the road that goes up there. A little dangerous and I arrived back down totally covered in dust as the trucks kick up clouds of dirt.

WARNING: The north side (and possibly also the east side) of the otherwise lovely rocky butte of Chang Chong Mountain abuts an unmarked military base. I found this out the hard way while descending that side on a narrow trail and then canal (seeking to do a loop back to Long Quan Road/bus #84) and spent ten hours in uncomfortable custody. My advice is to stick to the road from the cigarette factory, bring your passport, and make sure you are properly registered at your local PSB before you head up.

Sorry for the double posting. CORRECTION: the military installation may also be on the west side of the mountain, not the east side.

Yikes, Stork; sorry to hear about that.

Are you sure it's on the north side. I'm familiar with the one on the south side (the side that faces downtown Kunming), but I've poked around quite a bit on the ridge line to the north and never run across any military facilities.

On another note, they appear to be in the process of paving section of the road to the top, maybe even the whole thing eventually. The days of Changchong being a peaceful getaway may be numbered.

ANOTHER CORRECTION: yes, Daniel S., it was the South Side. I get all directionally challenged around Kunming for some reason. The South and west side seem to be where the base is located.

Hey, short question:

Who of you managed to climb the first steep (concrete) ramp directly behind the cigarette factory??

I'm a beginner, just started riding mtb. But man this is so steep. I made it all the way to the park entrance without putting a foot on the ground except the first ramp.

Just now it seems that the roads in the "park" are being paved so I couldn't ride in. The construction starts directly after the first small parking lot. As I live very close by, I'll try to go up the mountain regularly and keep you updated.

Just went up there yesterday afternoon. I can get up that first paved stretch, no problem. It's the bit right after that fake stone wall for the park that they're building - I'm just too exhausted and always have to walk it.

The paved bit up top in the park is fine to ride on, don't be put off by the construction materials at the beginning. You're missing the best part of the ride if you don't take it!

Since I wrote this article I've found a much better route up the mountain: Turn left off Longquan Lu just north of Linyu Lu (霖雨路) and directly after the Shabaying (Longquan Lu) [沙坝营(龙泉路)] bus stop.

You'll skirt around the right side a workshop of some sort and go past a car repair place. When the road forks go right and climb the road to a temple.

Go around the left side of the temple and onto a path. Descend a little and then climb again, taking a right when you come to a T in the road (left leads you to the military base—don't got that way).

Keep following the path upward and then after some flat and a slight downhill you'll go through a quarry and rejoin the main road right before the disgusting fake rock.

Just did this ride (the original, will try Daniels update another time!), its pretty good for a training ride, some good extended uphills that keep the heart going for some time. This is the only ride where I have noticed the slight oxygen depletion from the altitude!

Can anyone tell me if there is any good single track off the mountain and how to get to it? There may be some off the various small roads leading off the main route, but I aren't sure where to start looking! Thanks

Blobbles, if there are not trees, you may be able to make out farmers routes on Google Earth. You can sometimes.

If you have personal GPS you could also check progress by pre-defining lat-long from Google Earth before you leave home and write them on a print out.

Just an idea.

Blobbles,

I can second tigertiger, you can use Google Earth to preplan your route. I even find the resolution good enough to find my way without a GPS. Learn your route by heart on the screen or print out a map with several predefined routes.
If you're planning on descending on one of this farmers tracks let me give you a word of warning. These tracks tend to become very steep and narrow (especially near the top) with quickly changing surfaces (sharp rocks followed by a slippery clay-like surface for example). I hike them quite often and I am not sure you can completely negotiate them with a bike, unless your last name is Atherton though. I guess you'll have to carry your bike at some points.
If you want to try it, never ride alone and tell people where you will be riding, and then, please don't divert from your route(s).

Cheers guys, will google earth it first to check it out! When I go and ride a route I will have a look around using a GPS tracking application on my phone so I can tell people if I find some nice tracks. I am a pretty sensible and skilled mountain biker so won't end up skewered by my handlebars down some dead end track, well, it hasn't happend in my 18 years of mountainbiking (5 years of racing!).

My tendency when exploring new routes is to cycle it at a sane speed first, remembering turns and key points for dismounting etc. The next time at medium speed and the next at 3/4 speed, which is about as fast as I dare in areas that could be changed one day to the next!

Can you guys tell me if there are access issues (private property etc) around the area, apart from the military base on the South side of the mountain? This may be a general China question - will I get shot at or arrested if I stray onto some farmland where the farmer doesn't like visitors? Probably a pretty general question, but being new to China it would be good for any local advice. So far when I have been riding up around the resovior areas most people don't take any notice of me and those that do usually give encouraging shouts (well, I think so, my Chinese isn't that good yet!).

Might head out there tomorrow if anyone else is keen? 8am start, will bike up past the new visitor centre then keep heading north along the tracks. Have checked it out on google earth and it looks quite rideable. Have mapped it out (not in detail!) here: maps.google.com/[...]

Anyone see anything wrong with my route (other than a couple of times not actually being on a road... will have to find my way I think!)?

blobbles, let us know how it went. looks like an interesting route if it works out. 8am was a bit early for me!

I logged the alternate route up the mountain and pasted the link below. Though it is very steep in some parts, I think this route is better because it's more of a trail and less of a road, has less traffic and requires less trekking up Longquan Lu.

maps.google.com/[...]

(I was knackered this morning, so it only goes up to the disgusting fake stones, which are apparently thanks to a sponsorship deal with Hongyun tobacco company).

Bugger, might have lost that big comment I wrote as I think I got logged out.

I tried the route but was turned around by fake policemen who stopped me from attempting the road I wanted I think due to a quarry doing some explosives work (I heard the booming!).

This map shows the route I took kind of (the blue markers) to the road, then a new route I just mapped out as well. Will be trying this one tomorrow probably... maps.google.com/[...]

Will let you know how it goes. My route from the other day somehow became corrupted on my phone so I can't upload it. I ended up cycling out to a town called Daoshao Cun and then cycled back.

We went to Changchongshan today (14 Dec 2014), and we were turned back at the upper gate. Guards showed us signs that indicating that for the fire prevention period, from 1 December 2014 through 15 June 2015. They would only let in people who were sweeping family graves further up the mountain.

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