Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.
The Jianshan Route is one of three that leads to Black Lake (黑海). The others are Lanhua Meadow Route (兰花坪路线) and Base Camp Route (大本营路线). The Jianshan Route is the shortest but with a significant challenge—the steep upper section. You should plan on extra time to account for the steep grade.
Hiring a guide is recommended. The section between Black Boulder Junction and Jianshan Meadow is complicated by proliferation of paths. This poses more of a problem on the descent than on the ascent. Experienced hikers with good route-finding skills should fare well, but others are best advised to hire a guide.
Halfway along the route you will pass beneath Jianshan Mountain (尖山, meaning sharp peak). At the base of the peak lies Jianshan Waterfall (尖山瀑布), the only waterfall on the northern slopes of Haba Snow Mountain.
|Duration: 1 hour 35 minutes
Take the right fork at Black Boulder Junction. Immediately pass a blue water-pipe fixture that emerges above ground. A few meters beyond, enter thick evergreen forest. The path ascends—sometimes gradually, sometimes steeply—through forest alternating with short stretches of meadow and fields of ferns. At a fork in the path where a pipeline goes right, be sure to take the left fork.
1½ hours beyond Black Boulder Junction, cross two brooks—the second on a log bridge—and arrive at Jianshan Meadow. Here, at an elevation of 3,470 meters, there are huts and corrals. You may see other hikers and local residents, as several paths converge on the meadow. The Yi Village Route (彝家村路线) crosses the meadow, going north on the descent to Yi Village (彝家村) and south on the ascent to Base Camp (大本营).
Note on the descent from Jianshan Meadow
When leaving Jianshan Meadow on the descent, cross the outlet brook of Black Lake on a log bridge. Cross a second brook, make a brief ascent, and walk downhill passing hut ruins after 10 minutes. 15 minutes after leaving the meadow you will reach a fork, elev. 3,400 m. Take the right fork to continue descending the Jianshan Route. (See note above about proliferation of paths and hiring a guide.)
|Duration: 2 hours 5 minutes
From the waterfall there are two routes to Black Lake. For the first, ascend any of the various paths to the right (east and north) of the falls, reaching the regular path after an extremely steep climb. This route is best avoided in wet conditions. For the second and easier way, follow the brook back down and return to Jianshan Meadow. At the meadow, ascend the track on the slope behind the huts.
10 minutes above the meadow, pass an overhanging cliff, elev. 3,570 m., fifty meters off to the right. It provides a dry rest spot from the rain. The route continues the ascent and soon passes near the top of Jianshan Waterfall.
From here to Black Lake the track parallels the lake’s outlet stream. The going is often steep but mitigated by gurgling water sounds and increasingly expansive views of the high country. You’ll see some nice cascades higher up as well as the occasional grazing yak. 50 minutes above Jianshan Meadow, pass by several huts in ruins.
From the ruins, trek uphill for an hour. The final stretch consists of several steep switchbacks. Just above the switchbacks, cross a small drainage filled with rocks which is often dry. This is the outlet of Yellow Lake and immediately beyond, the route forks.
The left fork veers south and in 10 minutes traverses a rocky defile that ends at the outlet of Black Lake. Many parties avoid the left fork and cross over Pass 4140 instead, primarily because the defile and outlet offer poor footing for pack animals. Moreover, the view at the pass is more impressive than at the outlet.
The right fork leads in 50 meters to a ramshackle hut on a bank above Yellow Lake (黄海), elev. 4,090 m. The lake remains hidden behind trees, but a path on the left leads down to the water. The hut is no longer safe for overnight lodging as the roof is unsafe.
From the Yellow Lake hut, the Jianshan Route ascends southwest in 10 minutes to Pass 4140, which offers a fine view overlooking Black Lake. The pass incidentally provides the best cell phone reception in the area. A short descent leads to the north shore of the lake.
|Region: Alpine Lakes Region
|Itinerary: Haba Village—Black Boulder Junction—Jianshan Waterfall—Yellow Lake—Pass 4140—Black Lake
|Duration: 4 hours and 50 minutes one-way
|Distance: 11 km one-way
|Altitude in Meters: Start 2,650. Max 4,140. End 4,100
|Elevation Gain: 1,500 meters
|Water Sources: waterfall brook, Yelllow Lake, Black Lake. Note: Yellow Lake is very shallow and may not be an attractive water source.
|Hiking Times: Haba Snow Mountain Inn to Black Boulder Junction, 1:05 hrs. Jianshan Meadow and Waterfall 2:40. Hut ruins 3:30. Yellow Lake 4:30. Pass 4140 4:40. Black Lake 4:50.
Reverse Hiking Times: Black Lake north shore to Pass 4140 10 minutes. Yellow Lake 15 min. Hut ruins 1:10 hrs. Jianshan Meadow 1:50. Black Boulder Junction 2:50. Haba Snow Mountain Inn 3:40.