Hua Shan, formerly known as “Xiyue” and also known as “Mount Taihua,” is one of the Five Great Mountains of China. It is located in Huayin City, Weinan City, Shaanxi Province, approximately 120 kilometers east of the provincial capital, Xi’an. It is situated to the south of the Qinling Mountains and overlooks the Yellow River and Wei River to the north. Since ancient times, it has been known as the “most precipitous mountain under heaven.”
The “Hua” in “Zhonghua” (which means China) originates from Mount Hua, giving Mount Hua the title of “Root of Zhonghua.” Mount Hua is a sacred site of the mainstream Quanzhen Taoism in China, known as the “Fourth Holy Mountain.” It is also widely revered as a deity in Chinese folklore, known as the God of Mount Hua, or “Xiyue Huashan Jun.” Mount Hua boasts 72 perilous caves and more than 20 Taoist temples and monasteries. Among them, Yuhua Palace, Dulong Temple, Dongdao Monastery, and Zhenyue Palace are designated as key Taoist temples in the country. It has been associated with famous Taoist practitioners such as Chen Tuan, Hao Datong, and He Yuanxi.
The best hiking route starts from Yuhua Palace, gradually ascending the path. Along the gently sloping cement road, there are supply stations offering water, snacks, and fruits. The trail consists of both gradual and steep steps, and it takes approximately 4 hours to reach the North Peak.
The North Peak, with an elevation of 1,614 meters, is one of the main peaks of Mount Hua and gets its name because it is situated to the north. The North Peak is surrounded by precipitous cliffs on all sides, and it rises like a platform among the clouds, hence its alternate name, Cloud Terrace Peak. To the north, it overlooks the White Cloud Peak, while to the east, it is close to Liangzhong Mountain. It connects to the East, West, and South Peaks above and leads to the dangerous Gouchuangxia Path below. At the summit, there is a platform composed of naturally fitting giant rocks, with a natural and awe-inspiring appearance. At the very top, there used to be a Cloud-Leaning Pavilion, and remnants of it still exist today, offering a great vantage point to view the Canglong Ridge of Mount Hua’s three peaks to the south.
The Middle Peak, also known as the Jade Maiden Peak, has its name originating from a tale in the Spring and Autumn Period. In that era, there was a young man named Xiao Shi who was skilled at playing the bamboo flute. His talent attracted the admiration of Princess Nong Yu, the daughter of Duke Mu of Qin. Princess Nong Yu abandoned her life of luxury and riches and, together with her husband, retreated to live in seclusion on Mount Hua. It was this story that gave rise to the name Jade Maiden Peak.
Walking from the East Peak to the South Peak, which is also the highest point of Mount Hua, you’ll encounter the thrilling Changkong Plank Road. For those who enjoy challenging themselves, this narrow wooden plank path clings to the steep cliffs with safety ropes for about half an hour, providing an exhilarating experience.
The West Peak is the fifth and final peak of Mount Hua. The West Peak cable car is located here, offering a half-hour ride through the rugged mountains and breathtaking scenery. The beauty of this place is beyond words; it must be experienced as mere text cannot capture its essence.
A day’s itinerary involving a 2,000-meter ascent over 12 kilometers is both a pursuit and a challenge.