Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.
|Region: Alpine Lakes Region|
|Itinerary: Haba Village—Black Boulder Junction—Jianshan Waterfall—Yellow Lake—Black Lake|
|Duration: 4 hours and 40 minutes one-way|
|Distance: 10 km 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. Jianshan Meadow and Waterfall 2:40 hrs. Hut ruins 3:30 hrs. Spur trail to Yellow Lake 4:30 hrs. Black Lake outlet 4:40 hrs.|
Reverse Hiking Times: Black Lake outlet to spur trail to Yellow Lake 5 minutes. Hut ruins 1:00 hrs. Jianshan Meadow and Waterfall 1:40 hrs. Black Boulder Junction 2:40 hrs. Haba Snow Mountain Inn 3:30 hrs.
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. Hiring a guide is recommended.
Halfway along the route you will pass beneath Jianshan Mountain (尖山, meaning sharp peak). At 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. Please note: Yellow Lake is very shallow and shrinks considerably in the dry season. For these reasons it may not be an attractive water source.
|Duration: 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 (彝家村路线) crosses the meadow, going north to Yi Village (彝家村) and south to Base Camp (大本营).
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.
|Duration: 2 hours|
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, 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 several huts 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, cross a small drainage filled with rocks which is often dry. This is the outlet of Yellow Lake. Just beyond, a spur trail 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 path on the left leads down to the water. The hut is no longer safe for overnight lodging as the roof is in poor condition.
Beyond this point, the Jianshan Route veers south and traverses a rocky defile that ends at the outlet of Black Lake, 10 minutes after passing the spur trail to Yellow Lake.
Yellow Lake to Black Lake via Pass 4140
The usual track on the final approach to Black Lake lies over Pass 4140. This is more convenient for pack animals than the rocky defile leading to the outlet. At the Yellow Lake hut, ascend a path southwest for 10 minutes to the pass. With a fine view overlooking Black Lake, this is the best place for cell phone reception in the area. A short descent leads to the north shore.