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How To Hike Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Letti Stepp



Welcome to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, a breathtaking hiking destination nestled in the majestic mountains of China. Known for its stunning natural beauty and challenging hiking trails, Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge offers an unforgettable adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.


This awe-inspiring gorge is located in the southwestern province of Yunnan, and it is part of the Three Parallel Rivers UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its dramatic cliffs, roaring rapids, and panoramic views, Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge attracts hikers from around the world.


Hiking in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is a thrilling and rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. This article will guide you through the essentials of hiking in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, including how to get there, the necessary gear, trail overview, and safety precautions, ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable journey.


Let’s embark on an unforgettable adventure as we explore the beauty of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge!


Getting to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge

Getting to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is an adventure in itself. The nearest major city to the gorge is Lijiang, which is well-connected to other major cities in China. From Lijiang, you have two main options to reach the gorge:

  • Bus: The most common and affordable option is to take a bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou, the starting point of the hiking trail. The journey takes approximately 2-3 hours, and buses are available throughout the day. It is advisable to check the bus schedule in advance and arrive early to secure a seat.
  • Taxi or Private Transfer: If you prefer a more comfortable and convenient option, you can hire a taxi or arrange for a private transfer from Lijiang to Qiaotou. This allows you to have more flexibility in terms of departure time and stops along the way. However, it is important to negotiate the price and confirm the details with the driver beforehand.

Once you reach Qiaotou, you will need to obtain a hiking permit at the entrance of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. The permit is mandatory and costs a nominal fee. It is important to carry a valid ID or passport for verification purposes.


Note: If you prefer not to hike the entire gorge, you can arrange for a tour or hire a local guide who can take you to specific viewpoints and attractions within Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


Now that you know how to get to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, let’s move on to the next essential aspect of your hiking adventure: the right gear.


Essential Hiking Gear

Before embarking on your hiking journey in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, it is crucial to have the right hiking gear to ensure your safety and comfort along the trail. Here are some essential items you should include in your hiking checklist:

  • Hiking Shoes: Invest in a good pair of sturdy hiking shoes with proper ankle support. The trails in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge can be challenging and uneven, so having reliable footwear is essential.
  • Comfortable Clothing: Dress in lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing that allows for ease of movement. Layer your clothing so you can adjust according to weather conditions. Don’t forget a rain jacket or poncho in case of unexpected showers.
  • Backpack: Choose a backpack that is spacious enough to carry your essentials. Look for one with adjustable straps and a waist belt for added comfort and weight distribution.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated throughout the hike by carrying an adequate amount of water. It is also a good idea to bring energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, protein bars, and fruits.
  • Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF. The high altitude and clear skies in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge make it easier to get sunburned.
  • Hiking Poles: Consider using hiking poles for added stability and to lessen the impact on your knees. The steep inclines and descents in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge can put strain on your joints.
  • Navigational Tools: Carry a detailed map or use a GPS device to navigate the trails. It is also advisable to have a compass and know how to use it.
  • First Aid Kit: Be prepared for any minor injuries or discomforts by carrying a basic first aid kit. Include essentials like band-aids, antiseptic ointment, blister pads, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medication.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: If you plan on hiking during dawn or dusk, or if you intend to camp overnight, a headlamp or flashlight is essential for visibility and safety.

Remember to pack your gear in a waterproof bag or use individual waterproof covers to protect your items from rain or water splashes. It is also advisable to pack light and only bring what is necessary to minimize the weight on your back.


Now that you’re geared up and ready to hit the trail, let’s delve into the trail overview of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


Trail Overview

The hiking trail in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge spans approximately 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) and is divided into three main sections: the Upper Trail, the Middle Trail, and the Lower Trail. Each section offers its own unique sights and challenges.

  • Upper Trail: This section is known for its stunning views of the gorge, with sheer cliffs towering above and the roaring Jinsha River below. The Upper Trail is the most challenging part of the hike, as it involves steep ascents and descents.
  • Middle Trail: The Middle Trail is less strenuous compared to the Upper Trail, making it more accessible for hikers of varying fitness levels. Along this section, you will pass through picturesque villages, terraced fields, and enjoy breathtaking views of the gorge.
  • Lower Trail: The Lower Trail is the easiest part of the hike and is recommended for those who prefer a more leisurely experience. This section offers a more relaxed walk along the riverside, allowing you to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the surroundings.

It is important to note that the hiking duration can vary depending on your fitness level, walking pace, and the time you spend exploring the viewpoints and attractions along the way. Generally, completing the entire trail takes around 2 to 3 days.


Along the trail, you will come across various landmarks, including the famous “Tiger Leaping Stone.” According to local legend, a tiger once leaped across the gorge using this stone as a stepping stone, hence the name. This natural wonder is a must-visit spot for capturing awe-inspiring photos.


Other notable attractions include the “Sky Ladder” and “Tea Horse Guesthouse,” which offer stunning panoramic views of the gorge. These points are perfect for taking a break and soaking in the beauty of the surroundings.


As you hike through Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, you will also encounter friendly locals who run small guesthouses along the way. These guesthouses provide simple accommodations and delicious homemade food, allowing you to rest and refuel during your journey.


Now that you have an overview of the trail, let’s dive into the day-by-day breakdown of the hiking adventure in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


Day 1: Start of the Hike

Your adventure in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge begins on Day 1 with the start of the hike from Qiaotou. After obtaining your hiking permit and ensuring you have all the necessary gear, it’s time to hit the trail.


As you start the hike, you will be greeted with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the rushing Jinsha River. The trail initially takes you through small villages and terraced fields, allowing you to witness the local way of life in this rugged landscape.


After a couple of hours of walking, you will reach the “28 Bends” section, which is known for its steep ascents and challenging switchbacks. Take your time and pace yourself as you make your way up this section, as it can be physically demanding.


As you conquer the “28 Bends,” you will be rewarded with remarkable views of the gorge and the surrounding peaks. This is a perfect spot to rest, catch your breath, and capture some memorable photographs.


Continuing along the trail, you will pass through scenic viewpoints and quiet forested areas. The tranquility of nature envelops you, providing a sense of peace and serenity amidst the rugged terrain.


After a few more hours of hiking, you will reach the first rest stop, Naxi Family Guesthouse. This is a popular spot for hikers to take a break, refuel with a delicious meal, and even spend the night if they choose to break up the hike into multiple days.


From Naxi Family Guesthouse, the trail continues with more captivating views and occasional encounters with fellow hikers along the way. As you progress, you will pass by charming waterfalls and cross suspension bridges that add an extra thrill to your adventure.


By the end of Day 1, you will reach halfway through the gorge and reach another guesthouse, Halfway Guesthouse. This is where you can rest for the night, replenish your energy, and enjoy a warm meal while savoring the breathtaking surroundings.


Remember to recharge your devices and take a moment to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Tomorrow, you’ll continue your hike through the Upper Trail towards Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Prepare yourself for an exciting and challenging day ahead!


As you settle in for the night, take a moment to reflect on the incredible journey so far and look forward to the adventures that await you in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


Day 2: The Upper Trail

On Day 2 of your Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge adventure, you will tackle the challenging Upper Trail. This section of the hike is known for its steep ascents and descents, offering exhilarating views and a true test of your hiking skills.


As you leave Halfway Guesthouse and continue your journey, be prepared for a demanding but rewarding day ahead. The trail winds its way through narrow paths, rugged cliffs, and breathtaking viewpoints that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds you.


As you make your way along the Upper Trail, you will need to navigate through sections with steep steps carved into the rock face. Take your time, use your hiking poles for stability, and embrace the challenge as you ascend higher into the gorge.


The effort is well worth it as you reach stunning viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the gorge and the powerful Jinsha River below. Be sure to take frequent breaks and soak in the majestic landscapes that unfold before your eyes.


One of the highlights of the Upper Trail is reaching the iconic “Tiger Leaping Stone.” This massive boulder sits in the middle of the river, and according to local legend, it was used by a tiger to leap across the gorge. This natural wonder provides a perfect photo opportunity and a chance to marvel at the forces of nature.


Throughout the day, you will encounter fellow hikers who are also taking on the challenge of the Upper Trail. Exchange stories, share tips, and cheer each other on as you conquer the demanding terrain together.


As you approach the end of Day 2, you will reach the endpoint of the Upper Trail and be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and a deep appreciation for the rugged beauty of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Take a moment to celebrate your progress before resting for the night at Tina’s Guesthouse, a popular stop for hikers.


At Tina’s Guesthouse, you can enjoy a well-deserved meal and reflect on the incredible journey you’ve experienced so far. Share stories with other hikers, appreciate the warm hospitality of the locals, and prepare yourself for the next leg of your adventure.


As you settle in for the night, take a moment to rest your tired muscles, recharge your energy, and get ready to continue your exploration of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge on Day 3.


Tomorrow, you will embark on the final leg of your journey toward the mesmerizing Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed for another day of adventure and discovery.


Day 3: Reaching Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge

Day 3 of your Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge adventure is an exciting day as you finally reach the namesake Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. This section of the hike offers spectacular views and an incredible sense of accomplishment as you reach the pinnacle of your journey.


As you leave Tina’s Guesthouse and begin your trek, you will continue along the trail that leads you deeper into the heart of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. The path winds its way through towering cliffs and lush vegetation, immersing you in the raw beauty of the gorge.


During this part of the hike, you will encounter the most breathtaking views yet. The mighty Jinsha River rushes through the narrow gorge, creating cascading rapids and a symphony of water sounds that accompany your journey.


As you approach the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge viewpoint, make sure to take your time and savor the awe-inspiring sight. From this vantage point, you can witness the grandeur of the gorge as it narrows down, creating a dramatic and picturesque panorama.


At the viewpoint, you can pause to capture the moment with your camera, allowing yourself to fully absorb the beauty of the surroundings. This spot offers an ideal opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and appreciation for the natural wonders that lie before you.


For those seeking an extra adrenaline rush and a close encounter with the river, you can opt to take a detour to the “Middle Rapids” viewpoint. This involves a scramble down a steep trail, but the reward is an up-close experience of the roaring rapids and the power of the river.


After soaking in the magnificence of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, it’s time to retrace your steps and begin your journey back. The return journey allows you to view the gorge from a different perspective, discovering new angles and appreciating the scenery from a fresh vantage point.


As you make your way back, keep an eye out for any viewpoints or attractions you may have missed on the first day. Explore at your leisure, taking breaks along the way to rest, refuel, and enjoy the tranquility of this natural wonder.


At the end of Day 3, you will find yourself back at Tina’s Guesthouse, where you can revel in the accomplishment of completing the hike through Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Celebrate with a delicious meal and connect with fellow hikers who have shared in the adventure.


As the night falls, take a moment to reflect on the incredible journey you’ve experienced and the memories you’ve made during your time in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tomorrow, it’s time to bid farewell, but the memories of this remarkable hike will stay with you forever.


Prepare for a good night’s sleep, as you have one final day ahead to complete your return journey and conclude your remarkable adventure in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


Day 4: Return Journey

Day 4 marks the final day of your Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge adventure as you embark on the return journey from Tina’s Guesthouse back to Qiaotou. While it may feel bittersweet to bid farewell to the majestic gorge, the memories and experiences will stay with you for a lifetime.


As you start your return journey, take some time to appreciate the familiar sights and enjoy the last moments in this breathtaking natural setting. The trail will feel somewhat different on the way back, offering a chance to view the landscape from a different perspective and gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the gorge.


En route, you may encounter fellow hikers who are just beginning their own adventure through Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Share your experiences with them, offer tips, and encourage them to embrace the challenges and rewards that lie ahead.


Take the time to savor the moments of tranquility, walking at your own pace, and reflecting on the incredible journey you’ve had. Admire the surrounding mountains, listen to the sounds of nature, and immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the gorge one last time.


As you reach Qiaotou, the end of the trail, take a moment to reflect on the accomplishment of completing the challenging hike through Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Celebrate your journey and the growth it has brought you, both physically and mentally.


Before leaving the gorge, make sure to return your hiking permit and take the opportunity to browse through local shops, where you can find unique souvenirs to commemorate your adventure.


As you prepare to depart for your next destination, carry with you the memories of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge and the breathtaking landscapes you have witnessed. Cherish these experiences and let them serve as a reminder of the beauty and wonder that nature has to offer.


Remember to leave no trace behind and respect the environment as you make your way back. Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge has welcomed you with open arms, and by practicing responsible hiking, you contribute to the preservation of this remarkable natural treasure.


As you bid farewell to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, carry the spirit of adventure, resilience, and appreciation for nature with you. The memories and lessons learned during this journey will stay with you, inspiring future explorations and reminding you of the incredible experiences that await in the world’s vast and diverse landscapes.


Safe travels, and may your adventures continue to be filled with awe and wonder!


Safety Precautions

While exploring Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is an exhilarating adventure, it is essential to prioritize safety throughout your hike. Here are some crucial safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • Plan and Research: Before setting off on your journey, thoroughly research the trail, weather conditions, and any potential risks. Familiarize yourself with the route and have a detailed map or GPS device on hand.
  • Inform Others: Share your hiking plans with someone you trust, providing them with details of your itinerary and expected return time. This allows others to be aware of your whereabouts and can be crucial in the event of an emergency.
  • Check Weather Conditions: Keep a close eye on weather forecasts for the region and be prepared for changes in weather. Dress in layers and carry rain gear to protect yourself from unexpected rain showers or temperature drops.
  • Stay Hydrated: Carry an ample supply of water and remember to drink frequently to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and poor decision-making, so make hydration a top priority.
  • Watch Your Step: The trails in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge can be steep, uneven, and sometimes slippery. Always watch your step, use hiking poles for stability, and wear proper footwear with good traction.
  • Be Mindful of Altitude: Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge reaches high altitudes, and altitude sickness is a possibility. Take your time, acclimate gradually, and listen to your body. If you experience severe symptoms such as dizziness or shortness of breath, descend to a lower altitude and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Respect Nature: Practice Leave No Trace principles and be respectful towards the environment. Do not litter, stay on designated trails, and avoid damaging plants or wildlife. Let’s protect and preserve the beauty of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge for generations to come.
  • Follow Local Advice: Pay attention to any signs or warnings provided by local authorities or guides. They have valuable knowledge about the area and can advise you on the safest routes and conditions.
  • Carry Safety Essentials: Pack a basic first aid kit, including band-aids, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medication. Carry a headlamp or flashlight, whistle, and a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies.
  • Hike with a Partner: Whenever possible, hike with a partner or in a group. Having someone by your side enhances safety and ensures that help is readily available in case of an emergency.

By following these safety precautions and using common sense, you can minimize risks and have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


Now that you’re aware of the safety measures, let’s explore some handy tips to make your hike even more enjoyable.


Tips for an Enjoyable Hike

As you embark on your adventure in Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, here are some valuable tips to enhance your hiking experience:

  • Start Early: Begin your hike early in the day to avoid the midday heat and allow ample time to enjoy the trail.
  • Take Breaks: Don’t rush through the hike. Take frequent breaks to rest, hydrate, and appreciate the stunning scenery around you.
  • Engage with Locals: Interact with the friendly locals you encounter along the way. They can provide insights into the region’s culture, traditions, and hidden gems.
  • Capture Moments: Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the incredible views and memories of your journey through Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • Immerse in Local Cuisine: Try the local cuisine at the guesthouses along the trail. Taste delicious homemade dishes that showcase the flavors of the region.
  • Pack Snacks: Keep energizing snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or fruits in your backpack to fuel yourself during the hike.
  • Practice Trail Etiquette: Be mindful of other hikers on the trail. Yield to uphill hikers, maintain a reasonable pace, and keep noise levels to a minimum to respect the peacefulness of the gorge.
  • Stay Flexible: Embrace unexpected changes or detours that may arise during your hike. Weather conditions or local recommendations may lead you to discover hidden trails or viewpoints.
  • Embrace the Challenge: Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge offers a rewarding but demanding hiking experience. Embrace the physical challenges and relish the sense of accomplishment with each step.
  • Disconnect and Reconnect: Take advantage of the absence of Wi-Fi and mobile signals to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature and yourself.

Remember, the key to an enjoyable hike is to find a balance between maintaining a comfortable pace and taking the time to appreciate the remarkable beauty of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge.


With these tips in mind, you are now equipped to embark on a memorable and fulfilling adventure through Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. Enjoy every step of the journey, embrace the challenges, and create lifelong memories of this extraordinary natural wonder.


As your hiking adventure comes to an end, reflect on the experiences and lessons learned along the trail. Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge has unfolded its grandeur before you, leaving you with a sense of awe and a deeper connection to the natural world.


Safe travels and happy hiking!



Exploring Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is an exhilarating adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of China’s natural wonders. As you navigate through the challenging trails, witness the breathtaking views, and interact with the locals, you embark on a journey that will leave a lasting impression.


From the start of the hike in Qiaotou to reaching the captivating Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge viewpoint, every step is filled with awe-inspiring sights and rewarding challenges. The Upper Trail tests your physical abilities, the Middle Trail introduces you to the local culture, and the Lower Trail offers a peaceful riverside experience.


Throughout your journey, safety remains paramount. Following safety precautions such as planning ahead, watching your step, and staying hydrated ensures that you can enjoy the adventure to the fullest. Engaging in responsible hiking practices also contributes to the preservation of this remarkable natural treasure.


As you take in the grandeur of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, remember to embrace the moments of tranquility, capture the memories through photos, and relish the interactions with fellow hikers and the friendly locals along the way.


The tips provided here will further enhance your experience, allowing you to savor the tastes of local cuisine, connect with nature, and find joy in the challenges you may encounter. By immersing yourself fully in the journey, you create lifelong memories and a deeper appreciation for the remarkable wonders nature has to offer.


As you complete your return journey, bidding farewell to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, carry with you the spirit of adventure, resilience, and gratitude for the experiences shared. Let the memories of this remarkable hiking adventure inspire and fuel your future explorations.


May the beauty of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge continue to inspire you, reminding you of the immense power and tranquility found in the natural world. Take these memories and lessons with you, as they are not just footprints left behind, but a lasting connection to the splendor and majesty of this incredible destination.


Safe travels, and may your future hiking adventures be filled with wonder, discovery, and a deep appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.