Song Mountains : San Huang Zhai

Song Mountains : San Huang Zhai

When: August 2016         Weather : Hot 30C

Leica M240  35 summilux, voigtlander 15mm.   Nikon P900


One of the 5 classic mountains in China is the Song Mountain range, much written about in history.  Having an afternoon free, I decided to visit the Sanhuangzhai temple and plank walk on the side of the mountain as I’d already visited the (overly commercialised) Shaolin Temple previously.

You can access the mountain either after seeing the Shaolin Temple and Pagoda Forest by taking a cable car up ..there are two cablecar routes.   My driver followed the road signs and brought me to a car park where there was a walking trail up the mountain, eventually leading to the top of the Shaolin temple cablecar station.

This was the first problem as far as trekking in China goes….there is a dearth of information on estimated distances, height, duration of walk etc.  So we had to resort to asking the locals and I got answers ranging from 2.5 to 4 hours to make it up to the cable car station….



this sketchy little map is all you get when you arrive at the Sanhuangzhai carpark and ticket office…..



the view of Song Mountain from the car park….it’s onl 1200m high but still a mighty climb…



the start of a seemingly endless stairway was the entry point I used…..little did I know…

As I plodded up the mountain which was thankfully reasonably shaded, I began to realise that this was actually a pretty serious mountain even though it isn’t that high….the steps went on and on and on…..



there was a little temple along the way which housed these figurines….



and the scenery soon became more mountainous



and rather pretty



but everytime i got to what I thought was the peak…..somehow there was always another corner and another steep stairway



I eventually arrived 1.5 hours later at the rebuilt sanhuangzhai basilica..the basilica of the three deities.



and looking across the valley from the basilica to the adjacent mountain, I could see the ‘plank walk’ that was my destination….



the plank walk didn’t look very far away but the path wound its way in and out the two mountains…this part of the walkway was carved out of the mountain…



Oh..and did I mention that there were yet more stairs as the the track not only meandered from side to side but also up and down…..



Here, I saw the only bird, a blackbird during the walk



the views made up for the hard work



rugged mountains



here looking back at the basilica another hour further along



other views



about 3 hours in….I finally arrived at the suspension bridge at which point there is a welcome drink stall!



moving on….



the song mountains were magnificent



surrounded by mountains



glimpses of the rocky terrain through the forest canopy


I eventually got to the plank bridge…here you can see that it’s actually built on the side of the mountain, supported by trusses and isn’t a part of the mountain



close up of plank bridge



the rather steep mountain. which the plank walk hugs…although when you are actually on the bridge it’s very solid and you don’t realise you are standing over air


Finally arriving at the cable car station 5 hours after I set off, the cable car ride afforded views of the whole area…


Views of Shaolin Temple and the Pagoda Forest in the foreground from the cablecar


It was a very very long trek but ultimately still rewarding….I would suggest going from the temple side so that you can take the cable car up and then walk towards the plank bridge and the basilica rather than the other way round.



2 thoughts on “Song Mountains : San Huang Zhai

  1. Hi there,
    I came across your wonderful post with wonderful photos while searching for information on Songshan mountain. Scared me quite a bit!

    I have a question about the hike which I hope you’ll be able to answer.

    I wasn’t quite clear as to whether you started your hike by taking the cable car next to the Shaolin temple or the ‘other’ cablecar. I’m not really sure I could walk 5 hrs. 2 ½ to 3 yes. I would like to get to the suspension bridge and the walkway but don’t have to walk all around. Is there a way to shorten the hike? I also want to visit the Shaolin Temple after Song Shan. All this as a day trip from Luoyang. I might add that I’m 58 in good condition!

    PS. I’m originally from Singapore but live in Germany now.

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