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A Travel Guide of the Yellow Mountains

Hot Spring | Celestial Capital Peak | Jade Screen
Lotus Peak | West Sea | North Sea | Cloud Valley Temple

The Yellow Mountains is noted for its infinite enchanting scenery and particularly its peaks of fantastic shapes. Here, the scenery varies from season to season and as the peaks grow and fall. Unlike other scenic areas where the view is all in sight, the Yellow Mountains offers a constant changing panorama that stirs up vivid imagination. This guide will come in handy for all those who are interested in exploring the beauty of the
Yellow Mountains.
click to view full map

Upon entering the mountain flower-flanked Gate of the Yellow Mountains (26k jpg) after driving through Tangkou of Shexian County in southern Anhui, one comes to the scenic area, and then to the Hot Spring which lies a little distance ahead.

Hot Spring Scenic Area
(click on the above link for Hot Spring Introduction)

Six hundred and thirty meters above the sea level, the Hot Spring has a large tourist complex, including the Yellow Mountain Guest house, Taoyuan Guest house, Xuanyuan Hotel, the Hot Spring Bath, the Hot Spring Swimming Pool, the Postal telecommunications Building, villas and tourist shops. The scenic area straddles the Peach Blossom Brook that flows between Purple Cloud Peak and Peach Blossom Peak. Across the brook are the Purple Cloud Bridge, the Scenery Watching Bridge, the Famous Spring Bridge and the White Dragon Bridge. Scattered around are the Fish Watching Pavilion, Falls Watching Pavilion, Peach Blossom Land Pavilion, and the Falls Watching Tower. Here one can watch Thousand Feet Spring and Inverted V Falls (21k jpg) as well as Celestial Capital Peak, Lotus Peak, Cinnabar Peak, Purple Cloud Peak and Purple Rock Peak. Going up along the brook, one will see such scenic spots as Roaring Lion Rock, Dragon Head Rock, Tiger Head Rock, the Red Well, Intoxicated Rock, Sword Testing Rock as well as Green Dragon Pool, White Dragon Pool, Three Folding Spring and Ringing String Spring.

Departing from the Hot Spring, travelers can take two routes for mountain sightseeing: One is to ascend the imposing and steep mountain front and then descend the picturesque back mountains and then return to the Hot Spring. The other is just to take the opposite route.

Ascending the Mountain Face

Let's now take the first route. Passing the stone tablet engraved with the characters of "Beautiful Rivers and Mountains", which is to the right of Yiran Pavilion, one reaches the ancient Mercy Light Temple after crossing the serene bamboo grove and the Dragon Turning Back Bridge. To the left of the Temple stands Toad Peak, and behind the Temple, the Cinnabar Peak. Nearby, there is the Draping Cloud Bridge, Fayan Spring and the Thousand Monk Stove. A statue of Xu Xiake, the great traveler and geographer of the Ming Dynasty stands in the temple in commemoration of his two trips to the Yellow Mountains in 1616 and 1618.

Farther way up is the Golden Sand Hill. At the foot of the hill one can see Yinggu Rock. To the left of the road is the Cave Flying From Afar and to the right is Candle Peak. Crossing the cave and then the Crescent Pavilion, one finds the Head Knocking Rock. Above the rock in the right direction, one can see traces of the mountain movement of the glacial period half way at Green Phoenix Peak. Further along the road is the Green Phoenix Bridge. Standing on the bridge, one can look up and see the Crucian Carp Back (21k jpg), which is the most perilous point of the Celestial Capital Peak. Turning back, one sees below the Water Screen Cave on Peach Blossom Peak. Crossing the bridge and going through the Drum Beating Cave leads one to the Half Way Up the Mountain Temple.

Celestial Capital Peak

The temple is located between Old Man Peak and Cinnabar Peak at 1,340 meters above the sea level. One can take a rest and have some tea here before resuming the tour. Looking up in front of the temple, one sees a rock resembling a flying and crowing cock on the Celestial Capital Peak (14k jpg) and facing the Heavenly Threshold.This is just the famous grotesque rock "Golden Cock Crowing towards the Heavenly Gate" one can also see the stone engraving of "Hearing a Cock Crowing in the Sky" on the rock. Leaving the Half Way Up the Mountain Temple, one may take the new route leading to the Celestial Capital Peak (The old route is to go to the Dragon Slope pass the Heavenly Threshold, cross the Cloud Nest Cave and then reach the foot of Celestial Capital Peak and climb to the apex of the Celestial Capital Peak.). First one comes to the Tiger Mouth (also known as Guts Testing Wall), and steps on the narrow Three Folding Path. Here, one can see a rock resembling two monks worshiping the Buddha. One may proceed to cross the Three Ladies Cave and climb up the rocky path where the sky seems within reach, to be greeted by an ancient pine. A narrow pines-flanked path leads one to the Bell Tower where the rocks ring with bell sounds. After crossing the Springboard Rock, one finally ascends the Celestial Capital Peak, one of the three main peaks of the Yellow Mountains.The Celestial Capital Peak rises 1,829 meters high, piercing the clouds. Hence the name. It is ideal for taking a bird's-eye view of the unfolding magnificent landscape of the Yellow Mountains. Therefore, one can not claim to have been to the Yellow Mountains without reaching the Celestial Capital Peak.

Descending the Celestial Capital Peak westwards, travelers go through the Immortal Gate Keeper Cave with vivid peach-resembling rock formations on the cave, pass Crucian Carp Peak formed during the glacial period and cross the Heavenly Bridge where the Sea Exploring Pine stands. Further down, visitors come to the Heavenly Jade Screen. A half-kilometer long Heavenly Stairs consisting of stairs, stone railings and iron chains winds down the cliff. At the Bottom of the stairs one sees a scene of the Kid Worshiping the Buddha Guanyin and then reaches the foot of the Celestial Capital Peak.

Turning left from the foot of the Celestial Capital Peak, one steps onto the Jade Screen Stairs and goes through the Care Slope, passes Hassock Rock, crosses the Lying Cloud Cave and the Immortal Bridge before reaching a place called A Thread of Sky. As the path here is caught between cliffs, it is so narrow as to allow passage of only one person. Looking above, the sky is reduced to a barely seen thread, hence the name. When one looks back upon leaving the path three exquisite rocks with several lovely young pines embraced by fleeting clouds come into sight. This fairy scene is referred to as the Three Islets of Fairyland (27k jpg). After crossing Manjusri Cave, one sees the famous Greeting Pine (37k jpg) and the Jade Screen Tower

Jade Screen Scenic Area
(click on the above link for Jade Screen Introduction)

The Jade Screen Tower stands against the 1,668 meter high Jade Screen Peak (34k jpg). Originally the seat of Manjusri Temple, it is now a tourist center with complete service facilities. Around the Tower are elephant and lion shaped rocks and ancient pines. In front of the Tower there emerge to the left the Celestial Capital Peak and Ploughing Cloud Peak. On Ploughing Cloud Peak there is a rock which looks likes a squirrel jumping at the Celestial Capital Peak. Below the peak . Below the peak there is another odd shaped rock which conjures up a scene of an immortal getting off a sedan chair. To the right are Lotus Peak, Lotus Pistil Peak and Holy Spring Peak. Viewed from distance, the rock on Lotus Pistil Peak looks like a small boating sailing through the ocean of clouds. Beside the peak there stands a rock that resembles a peacock playing in the lotus. Standing on the terrace in front of the pine, one is greeted by a panorama of numerous peaks and rocks half hidden in the clouds. Therefore, a visit to the Jade Screen Tower has long been considered a must for a tour of the Yellow Mountains.

The Jade Screen Tower is a half way stop between the Hot Spring and the West Sea and North Sea scenic areas. Going further ahead, tourists pass the Farewell Pine (15k jpg) and the Hassock Pine. If one looks back, an ox-shaped rock on Ox Nose Peak comes into sight. The scene is known as Rhinoceros Watching the Moon. The distance from Jade Screen Peak down to the bottom of the Lotus Ravine is about two and half kilometers. Here the terrain rises. Climbing up several hundred steps stairs, one reaches Lotus Ridge. Standing above in the right direction is Lotus Peak.

Lotus Peak

With a height of 1,873 meters, Lotus Peak (19k jpg) is the highest peak of the Yellow Mountains. It is embraced by small hills, resembling the lotus, hence the name. A one and half kilometer long winding path links Lotus Ridge and the apex of lotus Peak. One needs to cross four caves on the way up before reaching the apex. Pines in the shape of flying dragons and double dragons as well as the Yellow Mountain Azalea are found on the peak. Standing together in the central part of the Yellow Mountains, the magnificent lotus Peak, Brightness Apex and the Celestial Capital Peak unfold in all their majesty.

Going down the same route northwards, one passes turtle-shaped and snake-shaped rocks and reaches the One Hundred Step Cloud Stairs (17k jpg). Here, a scene of a rock resembling an old monk watching the sea under the opposite Rongcheng Peak is seen. Getting off the stairs and crossing the Lotus Cave and Huge Turtle Cave, one comes to the Heavenly Sea. To the left of the site of Central Sea Pavilion stands Stone Column Peak, and to the right is the Phoenix Pine. Going up for a while along the stone stairway, one can then look back at the famous rock sight known as Huge Turtle Carrying a Golden Turtle on Its Back. Further up in the right direction there stands Alchemy Peak and the 1,840.9 meter high Brightness Apex, the second tallest peak of the Yellow Mountains. With Brightness Apex (62k jpg) towering above the clouds, one commands a majestic view of a sea of ridges, peaks and gullies below.

Taking the west route or north route from Brightness Apex,visitors may tour the West Sea or North Sea, two famous scenic areas of the Yellow Mountains, and stay at the West Sea Hotel or North Sea Guesthouse.

West Sea Scenic Area
(click on the above link for West Sea Introduction)

The following is what visitors can see in the West Sea Scenic Area: route:

Descending Brightness Apex, one comes to the West Sea via a newly opened tourist route. A mystical Peak Flying From Afar (28k jpg) first comes into sight, with a huge 10 meter high rock weighing 600 tons standing on it. Passing several peaks nearby, visitors arrive at the Dispelling Cloud Pavilion (37k jpg) where one commands an excellent view of the unfolding scene. There stand in front of the pavilion a sea of variously shaped peaks that inspire all sorts of fairy imagination.These architectural wonders of the nature turn the whole West Sea into a natural art gallery. When the sun sets, the whole valley basks in a myriad of sun rays, becoming a famous scene of the Yellow Mountains. Equally impressive is the 1,712 meter high Rosy Clouds Peak behind the Dispelling Cloud Pavilion. Standing on the peak, one can watch the sun rising above the cloud and Peak Flying From Afar and Nine Dragon Peak in all their grandeur.

The West Sea, long known as the Mystery Valley for the many clusters of peaks and the fathomless depth of the valley, has been opened up as the White Cloud Stream Scenic Area.The seven kilometer long newly paved staircase extends from the Hook Bridge Nunnery inside the West Gate of the Yellow Mountains, across the bottom of the valley, and reaches the newly built Central Sea Pavilion at the Heavenly Sea. Tourists may go to Qianxun Falls via the Hook Bridge Nunnery and the Shy Spring. The highest falls in the Yellow Mountains, Qianxun Falls have a drop of 140 meters, and is ice free all the year round. The falls thunder can be heard at Swan Rock near the brook and one can also have a near look on the "Immortal Walking on Stilts ". Passing the Dropping Spring and the Lucky Cloud Bridge, one comes to the Dispelling Cloud Pavilion. Then, a twisting path leads one through Buxian Bridge and to the Goddess Flower Bed and finally to the Central Sea Pavilion at the Heavenly Sea. On the way, one can watch pines in all kinds of odd shapes.

North Sea Scenic Area
(click on the above link for North Sea Introduction)

The North Sea is just a few kilometers away from the Dispelling Cloud Pavilion in the West Sea, with the Yellow Mountains West Sea Hotel on the way. The North Sea Guest house (24k jpg) is located near Lion Peak, at an altitude of 1,630 meters above sea level.

In the Dawn Pavilion in front of the guesthouse, one may enjoy the beautiful scenery of Beginning to Believe Peak and Goddess Peak as well as the Stalagmite Bridge that inspire imagination of various fairy scenes. To the right of the guesthouse is the Flower House. In front of it is the Sunken Flower Bed with many rocks of fantastic shapes in it. Turning left from the guesthouse and passing the Unicorn Pine leads one onto the Cooling Terrace (45k jpg) and Lion Peak. Reaching out from the cliff and facing the valley in three directions, the terrace is an ideal place for watching sunrise and the sea of clouds. Atop the Cooling Apex of Lion Peak, one can look down at the rocks on Pingding Hill (46k jpg) which is famous for resembling a scene of a monkey watching the sea. Below Lion Peak is the Ten Thousand Pines Forest which sends out constant pine soughing. Turning right from the guesthouse, while viewing various ancient pines on the way, one crosses the Immortal Bridge and ascends Beginning to Believe Peak. Here, a magnificent view of stalagmites unfold itself.

Leaving the North Sea Guesthouse. and descending the mountain path right of the Cooling Terrace, visitors may proceed to the Pine Valley Nunnery Scenic Area at the bottom of the North Sea. Following the winding Eighteen Fold Path and crossing the Flower Brook and Bird Valley, one sees the swan and brush shaped rocks, and then Camel Peak on the left. At the Three Way Pavilion, one may view the three Buddha shaped rocks on Pagoda Peak to the east. Further ahead, there are peaks on the left resembling cock, bookcase, medicine case and sedan chair roof. To the right of the Two Way Pavilion, there are two scenes known as "the Immortals Watching the Poster" and "the Poet Li Bai Gets Drunk''. The Pine Valley Nunnery lies ahead of the One Way Pavilion. On the way to Lotus Ridge two and half kilometers away, one sees a number of pools, such as the Jadeite Pool, the Black Dragon Pool, the White Dragon Pool and the Aged Dragon Pool along the brook. The water scene is most enchanting at the Jadeite Pool, which, it is said, used to be the bathing place of the ocean dragon princess.

Cloud Valley Temple Scenic Area
(click on the above link for Cloud Valley Introduction)

To go to the Cloud Valley Temple Scenic Area in the East Sea, one needs to turn left from the North Sea Guesthouse and go eastwards. Passing the Black Tiger Pine, visitors reach White Goose Ridge, and the beautiful and steep White Goose Peak stands in the left direction. White Goose Ridge is the terminal of the newly installed 2803.96 meter long cable car route between the Cloud Valley Temple and the North Sea. Traveling on the telpher gives one a bird's-eye view of the East Sea. Those who prefer to walk may down the valley and appreciate the scenery on the way. Descending White Goose Ridge, one is greeted by numerous rocks of bizarre shapes around the brook as well as picturesque valley scene consisting of woods and springs. Passing the Fascination Pavilion, the Cloud Valley Temple is in sight.

Situated between Arhat Peak and Incense Burner Peak, the 890 meter high Cloud Valley Temple is half way between the North Sea and the Hot Spring along the mountain as well as the departure station of the cable car route to the North Sea. Tourists going both ways may stay at the hotels here. In particular, the Cloud Valley Mountain Villa, a newly built spacious building in the traditional local architectural style of the Ming Dynasty, provides comfortable service for tourists. Here, one can also see the rare aged yellow Chinese fir and iron Chinese fir and enjoy the Yellow Mountains Maofeng, a famous local tea. Descending the mountain path to the left of the Cloud Valley Temple and going through the bamboo grove, tourists can watch the Nine Dragon Falls four kilometers away.

On the way back from the Cloud Valley Temple, one can stop to watch the pouring and thunderous Thousand Feet Falls at close distance before finally returning to the Hot Spring.

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