Lanhua Meadow Route

Overview

Overview

Three trekking routes lead to Black Lake (黑海), the crown jewel of Haba’s alpine lakes. They are Lanhua Meadow (兰花坪路线), Jianshan (尖山路线) and Base Camp (大本营路线). The wildest and most secluded is Jianshan, a steep and strenuous trek. The most crowded is Base Camp, with unending hordes of mules and mountaineers on the way to the summit. The most gradual path of the three? That would be Lanhua, but it may eventually rival Base Camp in popularity. Recent years have seen large tenting and glamping communities established along the way.

Hiring a guide is recommended for any of these routes. Independent parties with good navigation skills can make the trek, but please review this article for necessary skills and equipment.


The most popular spots for camping lie at Upper Lanhua Meadow (兰花坪上) and Kentahua Meadow (肯塔花坪), elevation 3,800 and 4,050 meters, respectively. The hike from Haba Village to Upper Lanhua takes four hours, excluding breaks. The hike to Kentahua takes five. However, gaining a lift to De La Mu Chang (德拉牧场) will save 1¾ hours of walking.

Guided trips typically camp at one of the meadows and reach Black Lake on the morning of the second day. The final stage of the route crosses Pass 4230 shortly before reaching Black Lake.


Route Description

Route Description


Haba Village to the Access Gate

Haba Village to the Access Gate

Duration: 20 minutes / 1 hour 10 minutes / 1 hour 35 minutes

There are several ways to reach the Access Gate, elev. 3,030 meters, a crucial landmark on the lower part of the route. Each utilizes, in whole or in part, the paved road from Haba Village to Yi Village. These are the same options available on the initial section of the Yi Village Route (彝家村路线).

Option 1: Drive the paved road (20 minutes). The road is one-lane with occasional wider spots. Cars approaching one another may have to negotiate on who backs up. Your guest house might charge a fee for a drop-off.
Option 2: Walk the paved road (1 hour 35 minutes)
Option 3: Walk the shortcut path (1 hour 10 minutes)


The Access Gate to Lanhua Meadow

The Access Gate to Lanhua Meadow

Duration: 2 hours 20 minutes

Pass through the Access Gate onto the forest road beyond. Ascend the road in a westerly direction, and when the road switchbacks, look for shortcuts to save a little time.


30 minutes above the Access Gate, a side road on the left barred by a locked gate leads down to a pond stocked with carp. Local residents enjoy fishing here.

Two to three kilometers beyond the Access Gate is a place called De La Mu Chang (德拉牧场), elevation 3,250 meters (27º23’36“N, 100º6’1“E). Here mules can be rented for riding or packing (best to arrange this through a guest house in Haba Village before arrival). The road from the Access Gate to here is very rough but drivable for passenger cars unless they are low-clearance. If you get a lift to this spot, it will save 1¾ hours of walking from Haba Village via the Short Cut. Several hundred meters south of De La Mu Chang is a large glamping community for up-scale travelers (think well ever 1,000 rmb per night).


After reaching De La Mu Chang, the Lanhua Meadow Route continues following the road west and uphill, eventually entering the woods as a footpath. Four kilometers (1½ hours walking) after leaving the Access Gate, arrive at the expansive Yangfangpi Meadow (羊房皮坪) at an elevation of 3,450 meters. Here there are multiple huts which are inhabited during the yak grazing season. This is a good spot for lunch or a rest. After a short descent, arrive at a reliable spring on the south side of the meadow. On a busy day you may see dozens of hikers and riders resting here.


Alternate Path to Yangfanpi Meadow

Alternate Path to Yangfanpi Meadow

This alternate path provides a delightful ascent alongside a gurgling brook, Qing Shui Gou (清水沟). The path crosses the brook many times on simple log bridges. Recommended. At De La Mu Chang, look for the drainage a short distance to the north and start following the brook upstream. The path ends at the lower edge of Yangfangpi Meadow.


From the spring, ascend Yangfangpi Meadow for several hundred meters. At a grouping of huts and corrals, elevation 3,500 meters (27°23’45“N, 100°4’52“E), turn left into the forest where a shallow trough scattered with fallen trees cuts through the mountainside. Follow the trough, ascending south through forest where beard lichen (树胡子, shu huzi) festoons many of the trees. One hour above Yangfangpi Meadow arrive at Lower Lanhua Meadow (兰花坪下). This is a large open area at 3,750 meters altitude, with a marvelous view of Haba Snow Mountain.


Lanhua Meadow to Kentahua Meadow

Lanhua Meadow to Kentahua Meadow

Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes

The view of Haba Snow Mountain becomes more impressive as you ascend the gradually sloping meadow. Next to a collection of huts at the upper edge of the meadow, the path turns right (west).


Just above you will pass by huts at Upper Lanhua Meadow. This meadow is smaller than the lower one of the same name. Guest houses have set up dozens of tents for clients both in the meadow and nearby campgrounds. Primitive restoom facilities have been installed, but may be locked and open only to paying clients. A pipe originating much higher near Kentahua Meadow provides water.


The Lanhua Meadow Route continues the ascent through Rhododendron forest, traces an upper branch of the Seji River (色吉河), and arrives at Kentahua Meadow, elevation 4,050 meters. From Upper Lanhua Meadow to this point takes one hour. The river, really a brook by now, passes through Kentahua Meadow and provides a reliable water supply. The adjacent woods offer camping opportunities.


Kentahua Meadow to Black Lake

Kentahua Meadow to Black Lake

Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes

At Kentahua Meadow, the path follows and soon crosses the brook before entering the forest. Ascend south through forest and meadow for 50 minutes and arrive at the broad and expansive Pass 4230.


The vista of Haba Snow Mountain from the pass is truly magnificent, as is the view down to Black Lake. Far to the north, you may catch a glimpse in clear weather of a white-capped summit peeking over a distant ridge. That’s 6,032-meter high Mount Chenrezig (仙乃日), situated in southern Sichuan Province and part of the Yading Nature Reserve (亚丁自然保护区).


From Pass 4230, a twenty-minute descent brings you to the shore of Black Lake.


Summary: Lanhua Meadow Route (兰花坪路线)

Summary: Lanhua Meadow Route (兰花坪路线)

Region: Alpine Lakes Region
Itinerary: Haba Village—Access Gate—De La Mu Chang—Yangfangpi Meadow—Lanhua Meadow—Kentahua Meadow—Pass 4230—Black Lake
Duration: 6 hours one-way
Distance: 13 km one-way
Altitude in Meters: Start 2,650. Max 4,230. End 4,100
Elevation Gain: 1,600 meters
Rating: Advanced (2 days) or Extreme (1 day)
Water Sources: Yangfangpi Meadow, Upper Lanhua Meadow, Kentahua Meadow, Black Lake
Hiking Times: Haba Snow Mountain Inn to the Access Gate via shortcut 1:10 hrs. De La Mu Chang 1:45. Yangfangpi Meadow 2:35. Lanhua Meadow 3:30. Kentahua Meadow 4:50. Pass 4230 5:40. Black Lake 6:00.

Hiking Times from De La Mu Chang
To Yangfangpi Meadow 50 minutes. Lanhua Meadow 1:45. Kentahua Meadow 3:05. Pass 4230 3:55. Black Lake 4:15.
Elevation Gain: 980 meters
Rating: Challenging


Info

Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.



Written by
Ken Krov
2022-11-29