Jiaozi Snow Mountain is one of highest peaks in Kunming Prefecture, topping out at 4223 meters (13,855 feet). Jiaozi is one of the most well-known Kunming attractions, right up there with the Stone Forest and XiShan. Given it’s popularity, we expected the hike to be overrun with visitors, but were instead quite impressed with our experience there.
You almost certainly won't need a GPX route once arriving at the base, which is very developed, but just in case we've attached one for you. This shows you the most expedient route from the top of the cable car to the summit in case you are short on time (as we were). The map and the quoted distances show the distance and elevation gain if you were to complete the entire circuit around the summit area and to all the "attractions" around it.
The mountain experience here is highly developed, with a tourist bus system, convenience food available, and boardwalk all the way to the summit. But even an avid hiker can appreciate the natural beauty of the mountain once you get away from the crowds. We found it was worth the wait, as crowds thin out significantly on the upper boardwalk nearing the summit.
The tourist bus from the ticket office drops you off at visitor’s center, situated at 3140 meters. Here you will find a cluster of buildings, including the cable car station to your right. To your left, you can see wooden stairs climbing up the valley. The cable car costs 35 yuan one way and skips the first section of stairs. It cuts out from 1-2 hours walking, depending on how fast you go. The rest of the walk is pretty self-explanatory, your only decision is which route to take.
One path takes a longer, more scenic route to the top, while the other is a more direct, and steeper path up to the summit. See the map below (available at the mountain) for your hiking options. There are plenty of attractions to see in addition to the summit, including waterfalls, alpine lakes, and awesome cliff formations.
Getting to the Trail Head
We took a 9:40 bus from Kunming’s North Bus Station to Zhuanlong, a small city about 3 hours north. Upon arriving in Zhuanlong, we took a shared taxi to the entrance of Jiaozi Mountain National Nature Reserve—another hour or so up winding mountain roads.
We arrived at the entrance of the reserve and bought our tickets by 2:30 or so, much later than planned, and boarded another bus that would take us the remaining 7 km to the base of the hiking trail. Public transportation will not get you there in time to hike the whole mountain. We started hiking that day at 3PM, which allowed us to know what to expect and get excited for the next morning.
[note: we booked an inexpensive hotel in Hejiacun (HERE), a small village just below the entrance to the park. There was a bus that ran between the mountain and Heijiacun.]
By private car:
Jiaozi is about 150 km north of Kunming, or about a 3-4 hour drive. Take the Jiaozi Mountain Dedicated Tourist Road (轿子山旅游专线), also known as Road X002. There is parking available at the entrance to Jiaozi Mountain National Nature Reserve, costing 10 yuan per day.
Baidu Maps: https://j.map.baidu.com/2f/ntQ
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/LgJZNXX6UzZSqHdD8
GPS Coordinates: 26°05'04.4"N 102°50'26.1"E (26.084550, 102.840569)
Links to other articles about hiking Jiaozi Xueshan