China Adventures

Cangshan Mountain: River Gorge Hike (1 Day)

An 8 km hike from a small, quiet farming village at the foot of Cangshan Mountain in Dali, Yunnan Province through terraced fields, tea plantations and deep into a scenic river gorge with towering cliffs. This is the perfect hike for people who love to explore gorges!

  • Key Info
  • Discounts & Inclusions
  • Hiking Distance: 8 km :
  • Departure Time: 9 am :
  • Hiking Duration: 5-6 hours :
  • Back in Dali: 4 pm :
  • Hike Level: 3 medium :
  • Price: 650¥/100$

Meeting/drop-off point: hotel pick-up and drop-off in Dali Old Town

River Gorge Hike

Hiking distance: 8 km/4-5 hrs

Elevation gain: 250 m

Incl. meals: snacks, lunch


Explore a dramatic river gorge!

Experience a pristine natural environment!

Upcoming trip:

Detailed Itinerary

From our meeting point in front of the West Gate of Dali Old Town (大理古城西门) our van  takes us 9 km north to a small farming village at the foot of Cangshan Mountain called Heyang Cun (literally “Sun Crane Village”). The hike begins at the top of Heyang Village at an elevation of approximately 2050 metres

1 Day Hikes, Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan Province

1 Day Hikes, Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan Province


From our drop off point, it’s a short walk past scenic terraced fields, up into the foothills of Cangshan Mountain. Once in the hills, we meander through a tea plantation overlooking Heyang Village and are afforded panoramic views of Erhai Lake.

hiking in Yunnan;

After walking steadily uphill for about an hour, we come to the entrance of the gorge. We continue along a small trail that traverses the side of the gorge for another 30 minutes before finally coming to the river.

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Hikes Dali Yunnan Province;

On arriving at the river, we stop for a snack break and refill our water bottles with crystal clear, pure spring water that comes rushing down this narrow gorge from high up the mountain. From this point we start working our way further up the gorge by rock-hopping alongside the river and scrambling up a few large boulders.

Dali, Yunnan Province

Dali, Yunnan Province,

After hiking a short distance up the gorge alongside the river, we come to the first of many small but majestic waterfalls with crystal clear pools that are perfect for cooling off in during summer.

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1 Day Hikes, Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan Province

After hiking up the river past a series of waterfalls for about an hour, we come to the most spectacular part of the entire gorge, a narrow channel with high cliffs nicknamed the “Cathedral”. The walls of the cliffs are smooth, undulating and completely vertical. Much like a typical “slot canyon”, they were worn smooth over eons by rushing water, which gives them a very interesting appearance. This is the narrowest part of the entire gorge (only a few metres wide at its narrowest point), and the cliffs are at least 30 metres high, so the view is quite stunning.

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1 Day Hikes, Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan Province

Although only about 30 metres deep, the shape of the cliffs makes this part of the gorge very difficult to pass through, so we stop here for lunch and enjoy the unique scenery. Though not very far from the nearest village, this place feels extremely remote and there is no sign of human activity anywhere in sight. We are totally surrounded by wilderness, which offers a very nice feeling of peace and tranquility. After lunch we turn around and retrace our route back down the gorge, which actually looks quite different in reverse!

1 Day Hikes, Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan Province

Level 3: medium-strong

While this hike does not require a great deal of stamina, it does involve some scrambling up and down boulders, so decent physical strength and flexibility is required. Proper hiking footwear and clothing is also recommended.

Planning a trip ahead or want a private tour?