Can you hike Leaping Tiger Gorge in the raining season? That’s what I was asking myself as it was raining in Lijiang this July. The answer is, you most assuredly can. Despite all the people warning online that Leaping Tiger Gorge must be dangerous in the rainy season, it is really a relatively easy hike that can be done in one day even in the rainy season.
In northern Yunnan, the rainy season is from July to August or September, and it can rain for portions of the day everyday for weeks on end. When I arrived in Lijiang with the intent of hiking Leaping Tiger Gorge, it was pouring, and the weather forecasts said it would rain everyday for the next week. Asking around, a lot of the Chinese tourists said that Leaping Tiger Gorge might be dangerous if it has been raining recently, as did my hotels’ owner, as did some forum posters online, but the people who worked at touring agencies all said it would be no problem.
The evening I arrived in Qiao Tou, it was raining, and I stayed the night at a hotel then woke up at 6 am to get started hiking. It wasn’t raining that day, and it didn’t start raining that day until 5 pm—by that time I was done hiking and back in Qiao Tou.
The threat everyone is worrying about in the rain is the waterfalls and ledge that you pass through near the end of the hike. There are two waterfalls that come over the trail and you have to walk through the stream of water. The second waterfall has a little bit of loose rocks on the ground. As long as you walk slowly and are sure of your steps, it shouldn’t be a problem. (Using a pole to help hiking also helps.)
After the waterfalls there is a descent into the town at the end of the hike where Tina’s Hostel and other guesthouses are. (“Tina” is a little too aggressive about trying to get your money, but I mention her guesthouse because it is a well-known landmark.) The descent has some rocks that you should also be careful on not to slip (whether they are wet or not).
The first half of the hike is relatively easy with a very wide trail and few ledge side drop offs, so there should be no problem whatsoever when it comes to being wet there. It might get muddy in some parts, but apart from the “28 turns”, its not steep.
If you are traveling in China during July or August and want to hike the Leaping Tiger Gorge, don’t be put off by the fact that it may he rained recently. You might not want to do the hike in the rain (especially not the second half), but simply the fact that it has rained the night before isn’t a reason not to hike Leaping Tiger Gorge.
That being said, Leaping Tiger Gorge has better views if there aren’t clouds obscuring Snow Mountain. If you are in the stages of planning a trip to Yunnan and have flexibility, certainly don’t schedule your trip during the months of July or August. Read my full guide on Leaping Tiger Gorge for more information.