Jianshan Route (尖山路线)
Region: Alpine Lakes Region
Itinerary: Haba Village—Black Boulder Junction—Jianshan Waterfall—Black Lake
Distance: 10 km one-way
Duration: 4¾ hours one-way
Altitude in Meters: Start 2,650. Max 4,100. End 4,100
Elevation gain: 1,500 meters
Hiking times: Haba Snow Mountain Inn to Black Boulder Junction, 1:05 hrs. To Jianshan Meadow and waterfall 2:40 hrs. To hut ruins 3:30 hrs. To side path to Yellow Lake 4:30 hrs. To Black Lake 4:45 hrs.
Reverse: Black Lake to side path to Yellow Lake 0:10 hrs. To hut ruins 1:00 hrs. To Jianshan Meadow and waterfall 1:40 hrs. To Black Boulder Junction 2:40 hrs. To Haba Snow Mountain Inn 3:30 hrs.
Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels.
The Jianshan Route is one of three that leads to Black Lake (黑海). The other two are the Lanhua Meadow Route (兰花坪路线) and the 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. Halfway along the route you will pass beneath Jianshan Mountain (尖山, meaning sharp peak). Near the base of the peak lies Jianshan Waterfall (尖山瀑布), the only waterfall on the northern slopes of Haba Snow Mountain. Dependable water sources include the waterfall brook, Yellow Lake and Black Lake.
Black Boulder Junction to Jianshan Waterfall (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 on simple log bridges and arrive at Jianshan Meadow. Here, at an elevation of 3,500 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 crosses the meadow, going north to Yi Village and south to Base Camp (大本营).
The second brook is the outlet of Black Lake. Follow the stream uphill for a couple hundred meters and around the bend, to see the 40-meter high Jianshan Waterfall.
Note on the descent from Jianshan Meadow
When leaving Jianshan Meadow on the descent, cross two brooks on log bridges and walk about 15 minutes downhill to a fork. Take the right fork to continue descending the Jianshan Route.
Jianshan Waterfall to Black Lake (2 hours 5 minutes)
From the waterfall there are two routes to Black Lake. For the first one, 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 to Black Lake, follow the brook back down and return to Jianshan Meadow. At the meadow, ascend the slope behind the huts on a well-beaten track.
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 a hut in ruins.
From the ruins, trek uphill for an hour. The final part of this stretch consists of several steep switchbacks. Just above the switchbacks, a side path leads 50 meters to the right, to a ramshackle hut on a bank above Yellow Lake (黄海). At the hut, the lake remains hidden behind trees, but a short path on the left leads down to the water.
Beyond this point, the Jianshan Route traverses a rocky defile and ends at the outlet of Black Lake, 15 minutes after passing near Yellow Lake.