Mao Mao Shan is the locals' mountain, but no one climbs it. Buried under an ever-growing canopy of foliage, the ruined path to the summit is allusive and wild. After or during rainfall this hike is not advisable as the path becomes incredibly slippery and treacherous.
The trailhead can be found in a friendly elderly lady's vegetable allotment. Make your way through the runner beans and tomatoes and onto a dirt track that leads steeply up Mao Mao Shan.
The villagers appear to have tied rope along the trail to help with the ascent, but ascending is still no easy feat. The trail is steep and often precarious, passing rotting wooden planks and loose cliffside rocks.
Translated directly, Mao Mao Shan could be the furry mountain or the hairy mountain. This is quite suitable if you imagine the many trees and bushes you'll encounter are indeed the mountain's furry hide. It requires a certain amount of determination to beat back the vegetation as you fight your way towards the summit.
The hiking path itself was built during the Japan-China War - the War of Resistance, but has since been abandoned. At the summit is an outpost used to survey the surrounding valley. The Yulong river stretches from horizon to horizon here. It's hard to imagine the land ever having been war-torn.
It's possible to walk the perimeter of the ruined fort, but care is needed as the stones are loose and liable to tumble down the mountainside. In the center of the summit plateau are the remains of abandoned buildings. Simple stone structures devoured by the plants which swarm at their feet.
It's a good place to find quiet and drift into thoughtless daydreams. Who knows what ghosts you share the summit with.
Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // Summer 2019
The trailhead is located within Jiuxiancun (旧县村), a village to the west of Yangshuo. The restaurant, Secret Garden, is a good starting point and about 8km from Yangshuo. A bike or scooter is recommended to reach Jiuxiancun from Yangshuo.
From Yangshuo, head west on the main road (066 county road) through the Yulong Scenic area gates for 2.5km.
Pass through Jimacun village. When you reach the fork, take a right through Chaoyang village.
Follow this road for around 3.5km until another fork, marked by a large stone slate and stone book statue. Take a right.
The turning for Secret Garden hotel is on the right-hand side after 700m or so. It's the first right-hand turn with a lamp post adjacent (on the same side of the road).
Follow this road to another fork - take the right-hand road. You'll soon see Secret Garden on your left.
From Secret Garden hotel (see above), follow the road. At the SE of the car park is a broken dirt road.
Follow this past a pool of water to an intersection.
Go right at the intersection and take the next left (there's a wooden signpost for Mao Mao Jia (毛毛家)).
Continue straight, inbetween a grey building on your right and Mao Mao Jia on your left.
Go left immediately afterwards and at the end of the garden go right through vegetable allotments up a dirt trail.
Follow the overgrown path to the summit.