Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.
The Haba-Benxi Route (哈巴-本习路线) connects the villages of Haba (哈巴村) and Benxi (本习村), located respectively to the north of Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡), and within the lower gorge. After a 1¼-hour ascent up to a ridge, it’s downhill sailing all the way to Benxi Village and the new Tiger Leaping Gorge highway. This is the quickest way to walk from Haba Village to the gorge.
The trek takes 4½ hours, excluding breaks, with considerable elevation loss. Portions of the route coincide with or cross over the Luke-Haba Route (栌克-哈巴路线). Hiring a guide is recommended.
Upon reaching the new segment of the Tiger Leaping Gorge highway, there is an option to continue along the highway for 1½ hours to Walnut Garden Village (核桃园) where there are several guest houses. With the construction of a 1.5 km tunnel, the new highway is protected from rock fall that plagued the old highway.
Starting from Haba Snow Mountain Inn (哈巴雪山客栈) in Haba Village (哈巴村), turn left (south) and follow the road downhill past shops and restaurants. Cross the auto bridge over the Seji River (色吉河) and ascend for about 600 meters to the main road through town. At the junction, turn left onto the main road for 100 meters and then turn right onto a cement road which leads uphill to the hamlet of Longwangbian (龙汪边). The trailhead is 100 meters up this road at a break in the embankment, elevation 2,700 meters (27°22’16“N, 100°8’9“E). No car parking here. From the Inn to the trailhead takes 20 minutes.
From the trailhead, ascend 20 minutes to a brook crossing, elevation 2,800 m. Beyond the stream, meadows extend nearly all the way to the 3,030-meter high Southwest Ridge of Pusa Mountain (普萨山). Hiking time from the start to the ridge is 1¼ hours. (The stretch from Haba Village to the ridge coincides with the Luke-Haba Route.)
Two transmission lines and a dirt road cross over the ridge. Follow the road and cross over the ridge. Within 200 meters of the ridge crest you will pass under the first transmission line. Just beyond, the road makes a sharp left turn. Turn right here onto a path that heads south and immediately pass under the second transmission line. For the next hour the path descends gradually, first toward and then along the base of Haba Snow Mountain (哈巴雪山).
20 minutes past the ridge crest, walk by an area of graves, then cross a dirt road. Soon, you arrive at a wide dirt road heading southeast and downhill. Depending on which of several paths you choose, you may reach the wide road at a hut where there are water troughs. Or you may reach the road lower down, but still within a couple hundred meters of the hut.
Follow the road southeast. When the road turns left downhill, follow the path straight ahead. Continue in a southeasterly direction, traversing the base of the mountain. Make a short, steep descent into a small drainage which is often dry. During high water, the drainage floods and washes sand and debris widely, forming an area of sterile ground I call “The Desert” (沙漠). The drainage deposits sometimes hinder traffic on the road between Ennu and Haba villages. Beyond the small drainage, arrive at a meadow with a view to a sub summit of Haba Snow Mountain.
Two and a quarter hours into the trek, the Haba Muru River—more a brook than a river —provides the next landmark on the Haba-Benxi Route. Here, an aqueduct diverts water to “The Desert” in the valley below. I call it Haba Muru for convenience, as I haven’t discovered a local name. It means Golden Flower Snow Mountain in the Naxi language.
At the Haba Muru River, several options present themselves: a) turn left off the path before the river, b) turn left after the river, or c) continue on the path for another kilometer or so and then turn left off the path. Choosing option a) you will enjoy nice views of Haba Snow Mountain while walking through open forest without trail. Whichever way you proceed, you want to arrive at Pancake Meadow next.
Were you to continue the path along the base of Haba Snow Mountain, it would cross over the mountains to Bendiwan Village (本地湾村) in Tiger Leaping Gorge. That’s the Haba-Bendiwan Route, a magnificent multi-day trek passing through Haba Muru Sanctuary.
Look southeast for the next landmark—two hills, elevation 2,710 and 2,770 meters. Hill 2770 on the right (west) bears the prominent feature of a long rock escarpment. The Haba-Benxi Route navigates between the hills and traverses the flat and uniform Pancake Meadow. The north edge of the meadow sits at an elevation of 2,640 meters (27°20’12“N, 100°10’36“E).
At the southern end of the meadow, the route enters forest and begins a long descent through a drainage. The path in this section may fade out several times—stay in or near the drainage bottom. After 15 minutes pass by a huge, isolated rock.
20 to 30 minutes after leaving Pancake Meadow, you will arrive at an important landmark, Water-Trough Junction (水槽路口), elevation 2,470 meters (27°19’37“N, 100°11’9“E). Here, several tree-trunk water troughs provide refreshment to cattle. They sit deep within a pocket of trees and you could easily pass by without noticing. If you don’t want to miss the junction, try looking back over your shoulder toward the drainage bottom at frequent intervals.
At Water-Trough Junction, trekking routes radiate in four directions. West, to Luke’s Hostel and the middle section of Tiger Leaping Gorge along the Luke-Haba Route. Southeast, to Benxi Village and the lower part of the gorge. North, in one hour to Ennu Village (恩努村) along the Luke-Haba Route. Northwest, to Haba Village along the Haba-Benxi Route described here.
From Water-Trough Junction, the Haba-Benxi Route continues in a southeasterly direction, descending steadily and sometimes steeply downhill. Within a few minutes, glimpses of Daju Village (大具乡) on the far side of the Jinsha River (金沙江) come into view.
After passing a large cultivated field, follow a dirt road that switchbacks down to the top of the paved road above Benxi Village. You may have to open (and close) a gate on the way. At the paved road, a distance marker indicates three kilometers to the old Tiger Leaping Gorge highway. Arrive at the new highway one hour after leaving Water-Trough Junction. The new highway, built 2021-2022, lies roughly 50 meters higher in elevation than the old highway.
If you have pre-arranged a lift at this point, the trek is over. Otherwise you have two choices. Turn right for Walnut Garden Village and destinations south in Tiger Leaping Gorge. Or turn left for Ennu Village, Haba Village and destinations north.
Turning right on the new highway leads to a 1.5 km-long tunnel with sidewalk for pedestrians. The tunnel opens up in the heart of the gorge and immediately joins the old highway. The road walk to Walnut Garden Village is six kilometers and takes 1½ hours with about 150 meters of elevation gain. There you will find several places of accommodation, among them Woody’s, Sean’s, and Tibet guest houses. Call a guest house for a lift if you prefer to avoid walking this stretch.
Turning left on the new highway, arrive at a cement side road on the right after 100 meters or so. This road leads downhill to the old highway. Turning left on the old highway, you will reach the gas station after a 20 minute walk. If open, you can obtain transport by asking the attendant to ring up a local taxi. Turning right onto the old highway is not recommended due to severe rock fall danger. The tunnel mentioned above was built specifically to protect the road.
There are guesthouses in the villages of Haba and Walnut Garden where you can hire a guide and find accomodation. See the Guides page and Lodging page for details. For advice on transport to and from Tiger Leaping Gorge, check out Dan Siekman’s excellent guide. For taxi and minivan service in Haba and Ennu villages, please consult the Transport In and Out page.
|Region: East Peak Group
|Itinerary: Haba Village—Haba Muru River—Water Trough Junction—Benxi Village—Tiger Leaping Gorge Highway—[optional: Walnut Garden Village]
|Duration: 4½  hours one-way
|Distance: 15  km one-way
|Altitude in Meters: Start 2,650. Max 3,030. End 1,850 [2,000]
|Elevation Gain: Gain 370  meters. Loss 1,200 meters
|Water Sources: Brook above trailhead, Haba Muru River, Water Trough Junction
|Hiking Times: Haba Village Inn to ridge crest 1:15 hrs. Haba Muru River 2:15. Pancake Meadow 2:45. Water-Trough Junction 3:25. Top of Benxi Village 4:15. New Tiger Leaping Gorge highway 4:30. [Walnut Garden Village 6:00.]