Let's start off by saying that Shijiazhuang was a complete delight. Now that that is on the table here we go. It's a great day trip from Beijing and could be done in one really long day or do like we did and go up the night before stay the night in Shijiazhuang (shudder) and then find a car in the morning and have it take you back that night.
The base is what happens when development projects go bad but I am sure the local party boss got promoted for it. Food offerings are existent but not great. You can take the cable car up if you want but unless you are aged or ill it would be lame of you as the hike isn't that long.
The mountain itself is beautiful, with the view from the top wowing even the most jaded (see what I did there?) china hand. The hike up is pleasantly free of the hoarders of travelers that normally accompany a Chinese tourist spot (there is still litter though, it is still China after all). Make sure to bring your camera and some sturdy shoes but this one is definitely one of China's hidden-ish gems.
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