I am not sure if I should blog about this or not, but I found the best place in Shanghai to go for a hike or a walk. The place is Tianmashan (roughly translated as heavenly horse mountain), a hill about 8 km away from the much more famous Sheshan. Even though I have been living in Shanghai for many years and I am always looking for good outdoor places to run I had never been here!
Tianmashan is exactly 100 meters high, so not a real mountain. But it’s the highest hill in the whole of flat Shanghai, even higher than Sheshan. And it’s more beautiful than Sheshan, because there are not as many people and there are some great trails through the bamboo forests. The mountain itself is covered in both ‘normal’ and bamboo trees and there are several temples on its slopes. There is even a leaning tower (not sure if it can be called a pagoda) that has a bigger angle than the Tower of Pisa. I would not be surprised if one day it would top over, though.
Luckily there are no cars on Tianmashan. Whoever got the idea to open up the road to the cathedral on top of Sheshan for cars I don’t know, but that was a very dumb decision. Tianmashan only has trails, so you won’t find any cars here. Actually, you also don’t find any people here. I spent about 2 hours on and around the mountain and only met one other person! The mountain is a bit more difficult to find, although that will change soon: the new A30 now has an exit a mere 1 km from the hill (which I only found out on the way back). That makes it more accessible than Sheshan, it took me less than 25 minutes from the hill to my home (on a Sunday morning while it was raining, but without traffic jams). There is a good (and free!) parking place at the East gate entrance of the hill.
I found Tianmashan through happy2run.com, a website for runners and running in China, set up by Myckel Bodt. Members of happy2run regularly run on the trails there, and without this website I would still not know about this great place. There is a nice trail on the mountain that took us about 30 minutes (record is 22 minutes I think), and we did that round a couple of times. Some steep and slippery climbs, but all in all a nice work-out in the middle of nature. The city feels so far away when you’re running there, it’s great.
Hopefully the crowds will stay at Sheshan and don’t move over to Tianmashan soon. Maybe I should not even put this blog post online, but I wanted to share this gem with my readers. If you should go there, make sure you also check out the countryside around the mountain. It’s also quite nice, with lots of water and an old town. I hope you enjoy your time there! And if you’re a runner, make sure you check out happy2run.com. The site just started a couple of months ago, but it already has quite comprehensive information about running and running events all over China – both for experienced runners and people who want to start running.