Lanhua Meadow Route (兰花坪路线)
Region: Alpine Lakes Region
Itinerary: Haba Village—Access Gate—Yangfangpi Meadow—Lanhua Meadow—Kentahua Meadow—Pass 4230—Black Lake
Distance: 13 km one-way
Duration: 6 hours 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)
Hiking Times: Haba Snow Mountain Inn to the Access Gate via shortcut 1:10 hrs. Yangfangpi Meadow 2:35 hrs. Lanhua Meadow 3:30 hrs. Kentahua Meadow 4:50 hrs. Pass 4230 5:40 hrs. Black Lake 6:00 hrs.
Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels.
Of the three routes leading to Black Lake (黑海)—the others are Jianshan Route (尖山路线) and Base Camp Route (大本营路线)—this one provides the wildest and most secluded journey. If you want to avoid the hordes of mountaineers and mules that are plying the Base Camp Route, this is the way to go. Lanhua Meadow offers the most gradual path of the three routes.
There are camping opportunities along the way, notably at Kentahua Meadow (肯塔花坪) at an elevation of 4,050 meters. The hike from Haba Village to the meadow takes five hours, excluding breaks. Guided trips typically camp here 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. There are reliable water sources at Yangfangpi Meadow (羊房皮坪), Kentahua Meadow, and the lake itself.
Haba Village to the Access Gate
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 to Yi Village. This is a six-kilometer, one-lane road with several blind curves. When two vehicles meet, the road is blocked until someone backs up, often for a considerable distance. If you hire a car to take you up (20 minutes) expect to pay a premium due to the time and risk involved, perhaps 100 RMB. Most trekkers walk to the Access Gate.
There are two alternatives for the walk to the gate. They match the same options available on the initial section of the Yi Village Route (彝家村路线).
Option 1: Paved road (1 hour 35 minutes)
For details, please see Road to Yi Village.
Option 2: Shortcut path (1 hour 10 minutes)
Local residents prefer the shortcut, which avoids most of the road walk. For details read Shortcut to Yi Village.
The Access Gate to Lanhua Meadow (2 hours 20 minutes)
Pass through the gate onto the forest road beyond. Follow 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.
Four kilometers (1½ hours) after leaving the gate, arrive at the expansive Yangfangpi Meadow at an elevation of 3,400 meters. Here there are several huts that 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.
Continue up the meadow for several hundred meters toward the huts. At the huts, turn left into the forest where a shallow trough scattered with fallen trees cuts through the mountainside. Follow the trough, ascending south through bearded forest to Lanhua Meadow (兰花坪). This is a large open area at 3,750 meters altitude, with marvelous views of Haba Snow Mountain. From Yangfangpi Meadow to Lanhua Meadow takes one hour.
Lanhua Meadow to Kentahua Meadow (1 hour 20 minutes)
The view of Haba Snow Mountain becomes more impressive as you ascent the gradually sloping meadow. At the upper edge of the meadow, next to a collection of huts, the path turns right (west) and continues the ascent through rhododendron forest. The path traces an upper branch of the Seji River (色吉河) and arrives at Kentahua Meadow, elevation 4,050 meters. From the upper edge of Lanhua Meadow to this point takes one hour. The river, actually a brook at this point, passes through Kentahua Meadow and provides a reliable water supply. The adjacent woods offer camping opportunities.
Kentahua Meadow to Black Lake (1 hour 10 minutes)
From the meadow, the route follows and soon crosses the brook. Ascend south through forest and meadow for 50 minutes and arrive at 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 of Mount Chenrezig (仙乃日) in clear weather. This 6,000-meter peak is 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.