Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels here.
|Region: Alpine Lakes Region|
|Itinerary: Haba Village—Access Gate—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)|
|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.|
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. Hiring a guide is recommended.
There are camping opportunities along the way, notably 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. Guided trips typically camp at one of the meadows 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 Black Lake. Water at Upper Lanhua Meadow may be available on a seasonal basis.
|Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes / 1 hour 35 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 to Yi Village. The quickest way (20 minutes) is by car for which a fee, perhaps 100rmb, may be charged. Some trekkers walk to the gate and there are two alternatives. These are the same options available on the initial section of the Yi Village Route (彝家村路线).
|Duration: 2 hours 20 minutes|
Pass through the Access 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 Access Gate, arrive at the expansive Yangfangpi Meadow at an elevation of 3,450 meters. Here there are multiple huts which are inhabited during the yak grazing season. There may be yurts and tents as well. 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. At a grouping of huts and corrals, elevation 3,500 meters, 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 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. From Yangfangpi Meadow to this point takes one hour.
|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. Guest houses may set up tents for clients in the adjacent Upper Lanhua Meadow, which is much smaller than the lower meadow of the same name. A pipe originating high on the mountain provides water here but may only be available on a seasonal basis.
The path ascends 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, actually a brook here, 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. 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. The 6,032-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.