HOW TO REACH JADE DRAGON SNOW MOUNTAIN
In recent years, the mountain has been tamed. It is easily reachable from Lijiang as a day trip. If you decide to pay the exorbitant price for visiting the mountain, don’t be disappointed when you discover the mountain lacks any nature trails. the walk (unless you decide just to take the tram) up the mountain is a very nicely constructed catwalk.
I found the views from the hills north of Shuhe’s old town and the hill above Heilong Tan to be the most awe-inspiring lookouts to the mountain.
HEILONG TAN VIEW
To get to the viewpoint at Heilong Tan, first buy a ticket and enter the Black Dragon Pool Park. This beautiful park has a large, unmissable hill to its east. In the northeast corner of the park a free trail exists which takes you up a steep yet short walk to the top. The top holds an old cemetery and taking the left trail at the top of the hill will bring you to a two tiered viewpoint which has a full, unhindered view of the splendour of the mountain and the surrounding countryside. I enjoy this view the most as it best shows the unique shape of this mountain compared to the rest in the area. It is almost like Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was sent here from a larger mountain range to lord over the area. For JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit fans, this mountain is a perfect true-life representative of Smaug’s Lonely Mountain.
To see it from Shuhe gets a more Tibetan aspect of the mountain. Going to the northwest corner of Shuhe’s Old Town, lies a small trail which will take you to the top of a hill close by. Again, this hill has an old cemetery at the top. Going past the cemetery will take you to an area littered in Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind. For those venturing to the legendary Tibet via Lijiang, this makes for a first contact moment with the culture.
TIGER LEAPING GORGE VIEW
For those who desire to go farther abroad and see a different side of the mountain, hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge makes for a two day journey in the shadow of the mountain on the opposite face from Lijiang. Here it rises precipitously high, turning what looked like a regal peak into a violent titan.