Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.
Three trekking routes lead to Black Lake (黑海). 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, but also the steepest. The most crowded is Base Camp, with its hordes of mules and mountaineers on the way to the summit. Lanhua offers the most gradual path of the three. But with the establishment of large tent communities along the way, Lanhua may eventually rival Base Camp for popularity. Hiring a guide is recommended for any of these routes.
The main places for camping lie at Upper Lanhua Meadow (兰花坪上) and Kentahua Meadow (肯塔花坪) at elevations of 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.
|Duration: 20 minutes / 1 hour 35 minutes / 1 hour 10 minutes|
There are several ways to reach the Access Gate, 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)
|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 above 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 rough but drivable for passenger cars unless they are low-clearance. If you can 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 high-end travelers (think well above 1,000 rmb per night).
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. Highly recommended. At De La Mu Chang, look for the drainage to the north and start following the brook upstream. The path ends at the lower edge of Yangfangpi Meadow.
The regular Lanhua Meadow Route follows the road uphill through meadows and eventually enters 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. A reliable spring on the south side of the meadow provides water. On a busy day you may see dozens of hikers and riders resting here.
Continue up the 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 marvelous views of Haba Snow Mountain.
|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 newly constructed huts at Upper Lanhua Meadow. This meadow is smaller than the lower meadow of the same name. Guest houses have set up dozens of tents for clients both in the meadow and adjoining spaces. 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 path 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.
|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 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.
|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 hrs. 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