Descent to Jinsha River

Trail cut above Jinsha River

Overview

Overview

The descent to the Jinsha River (金沙江) comes highly recommended. At the bottom, “the true scale of the gorge and the ferocity of the river both become readily apparent,” as one visitor noted. Four trails link the Tiger Leaping Gorge highway with the river bottom. Members of the local Naxi ethnic minority maintain the trails and you should expect to pay a small fee (or fees) for their use and upkeep.


The paths linked to the bottom of the gorge are listed below. The last two, options 3. and 4., incorporate ladders that may be utilized on the ascent. Descending the ladder would create a dangerous situation for those coming up. Each ladder has approximately 170 steps set at a near-vertical angle. Best to avoid under wet conditions, if you are not in good physical condition, or if you are scared of heights. To avoid the ladders, you may ascend out of the gorge on Teacher Zhang’s Path (option 1.) or on Walnut Garden Path (option 2.). In fact, the traverse between Zhang’s and Walnut Garden, in either direction, is a rewarding way to experience the gorge.


1. Teacher Zhang’s Path (ascending or descending)

1. Teacher Zhang’s Path (ascending or descending)

Teacher Zhang’s Guest House (张老师客栈) is located a short distance down the road (south) from Tina’s. Go past the main building to find the top of the popular trail, where an attendant is usually present to collect a fee. The path switchback’s steeply down into the abyss. This is the “Middle Line” shown on the map.


2. Walnut Garden Path (ascending or descending)

2. Walnut Garden Path (ascending or descending)

Start from the vicinity of either Sean’s or Woody’s Guest House. At Sean’s, ask where the path begins. At Woody’s, follow a road down toward the river that connects to a path continuing further on down. The trail makes a more gradual descent than the one at Teacher Zhang’s. After getting close to the river, the trail continues on an exciting path cut into the sheer cliff. Beyond, you may encounter an attendant collecting a fee.

Upon reaching the rivers edge, you have the option to cross a suspension bridge over to the “Tiger Leaping Rock”, for a small fee.


3. Brave Ladder Path (ascending only)

3. Brave Ladder Path (ascending only)

This is the “Southern Line” shown on the map. The crux is a series of steep-angled ladders with 168 steps, dubbed “The Brave Ladder” (勇者梯, yongzhe ti). The path tops out at Teacher Zhang’s Guest House.


4. Sky Ladder Path (ascending only)

4. Sky Ladder Path (ascending only)

This is the “Northern Line” on the map. The Sky Ladder (天梯, tian ti) reportedly has 170 steps and a walk around if you don’t want to grapple with the ladder. The path reaches the Tiger Leaping Gorge highway near Sandy’s Guest House, the Tianti Inn and the Bridge Cafe. Tina’s is a short walk away on the other side of the Shenchuan Bridge (神川大桥).


Summary: Descent to Jinsha River

Summary: Descent to Jinsha River

Region: Tiger Leaping Gorge
Itinerary: Tiger Leaping Gorge Highway—Jinsha River
Duration: 3-4 hours round-trip
Altitude in Meters: 1,930 (Teacher Zhang's) or 2,000 (Walnut Garden). Jinsha River 1,750
Elevation Gain: 180-250 meters
Rating: Moderate

Map credit: Diqing Shangri-La Tiger-Leaping Gorge Tourism Management Co. Ltd




Written by
Ken Krov
2021-05-03