|The placid lake in Beigong Forest Park. (CRIENGLISH.com/William Wang)|
Comparisons with Fragrant Hills are impossible to avoid when discussing Beigong Forest Park in Fengtai Distrct. Both are quite accessible from downtown Beijing; both are nestled into the mountains west of the city; both offer environments of trees, greenery and flowers; both offer unique views on Beijing (air quality permitting). Yet Beigong Forest Park is a destination which surely deserves more recognition than it gets, compared to the celebrated Fragrant Hills.
One particular holiday, Fragrant Hills was so ridiculously busy that visitors trying to climb up the mountain were blocked by visitors trying to descend. The crowds became locked in place for over an hour, until a clever employee with a bull horn arrived and instructed the sardine-packed people to stay to the right of the path.
Beigong may be known by many Chinese folk, but it definitely offers a quieter, less populous experience than the Fragrant Hills. It reportedly does attract a number of tourists, though (at this point in time) virtually none from foreign lands.
Unlike Fragrant Hills, Beigong has no chairlift to conquer its heights. Those who climb to the 550 meters above sea level peak must do so using their own two sweaty legs. Thankfully, several lookout points break up the climb.