In a fit of masochism GoKunming decided on a recent morning to bike as quickly as we could up perhaps the most difficult paved climb adjacent to Kunming.
We headed for Baohua Road (宝花路), which climbs west from Baozhu Temple (宝珠寺) in the Majie (马街) area and over the line of hills flanking Kunming. The hills are not unreasonably tall, but they certainly are steep.
Cresting the top of the climb (photo right) entails gaining about 300 meters of elevation in around three and a half kilometers of road. For a fit person on a mountain bike, this means about 20 to 30 minutes of glorious torture.
But one doesn't have to be an endorphin junkie out for a morning fix to enjoy this route. The hillside up which the road runs is a wooded park that provides a nice respite from Kunming's crowds and concrete.
Traffic is also blessedly light compared to that of the roads on Xishan and the Bamboo Temple hill. In addition, the road is newly built, so the surface is nice and fresh for safe descending.
The climb is quite popular with local cyclists and is populated by riders of all types – from those channeling their inner Lance Armstrong, to couples walking their bikes up the steeper sections, to old timers with empty 20-liter water jugs strapped to their bikes who are going for a fill-up at a mountain spring.
Various hiking trails also snake their way up the slopes and choosing to walk instead of ride offers the benefit of more time to take in the views of downtown Kunming and Xishan.
To get to Baohua Road, find Renmin Lu (人民路) and follow it all the way west until it ends at a three-way intersection with Chunyu Lu (春雨路). Turn left onto Chunyu Lu. About a kilometer south on Chunyu Lu there is a blue traffic sign indicating a turnoff to the right for "Baozhu Ecosystem Park." This is the road you want.
About 100 meters later there is a small stone marker indicating kilometer zero of Baohua Road (photo right). Turn right here and follow the road straight all the way to the top of the hill.
At the top, one can turn around and go back to Kunming, take the right fork and eventually loop back to Bamboo Temple, or explore onward.
Hikers could take bus 21 from Xiaoximen and get off at the Majie stop on Chunyu Lu, and then walk back north to the entrance to Baohua Lu. The C65 route which leaves from the old west bus station on Dianmian Dadao (滇缅大道, formerly Kunrui Lu), takes a rather convoluted route, but will get passengers directly to the base of the road and hiking trails (photo above). © Copyright 2005-2022 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.