A Travel Guide to the Yellow Mountains  (1)

The Yellow Mountains is noted for its infinite enchanting scenery and particularly its peaks of fantastic shapes. Here, the scenery varies from season to season and as the peaks grow and fall. Unlike other scenic areas where the view is all in sight, the Yellow Mountains offers a constant changing panorama that stirs up vivid imagination. This guide will come in handy for all those who are interested in exploring the beauty of the Yellow Mountains.
Upon entering the mountain flower-flanked Gate of the Yellow Mountains after driving through Tangkou of Huangshan District in southern Anhui, one comes to the scenic area, and then to the Hot Spring which lies a little distance ahead.
Six hundred and thirty meters above the sea level, the Hot Spring has a large tourist complex, including the Yellow Mountains Guesthouse Taoyuan Guesthouse, Xuanyuan Hotel, the Hot Spring Bath, the Hot Spring Swimming Pool, the Postal-telecommunications Building, villas and tourist shops. The scenic area straddles the Peach Blossom Brook that flows between Purple Cloud Peak and Peach Blossom Peak. Across the brook are the Purple Cloud Bridge, the Scenery Watching Bridge, the Famous Spring Bridge and the White Dragon Bridge. Scattered around are the Fish Watching Pavilion, Falls Watching Pavilion, Peach Blossom Land Pavilion, and the Falls Watching Tower. Here one can watch Thousand Feet Spring and Inverted V Falls as well as Celestial Capital Peak, Lotus Peak, Cinnabar Peak, Purple Cloud Peak and Purple Rock Peak. Going up along the brook, one will see such scenic spots as Roaring Lion Rock, Dragon Head Rock, Tiger Head Rock, the Red Well, Intoxicated Rock, Sword Testing Rock as well as Green Dragon Pool, White Dragon Pool, Three Folding Spring and Ringing String Spring.
Departing from the Hot Spring, travelers can take two routes for mountain sightseeing: One is to ascend the imposing and steep mountain front and then descend the picturesque back mountains and then return to the Hot Spring. The other is just to take the opposite route.
Let's now take the first route. Passing the stone tablet engraved with the characters of " Beautiful Rivers and Mountains'', which is to the right of Yiran Pavilion, one reaches the ancient Mercy Light Temple after crossing the serene bamboo grove and the Dragon Turning Back Bridge. To the left of the Temple stands Toad Peak, and behind the Temple, the Cinnabar Peak. Nearby, there is the Draping Cloud Bridge, Fayan Spring and the Thousand Monk Stove. A statue of Xu Xiake, the great traveler and geographer of the Ming Dynasty, stands in the temple in commemoration of his two trips to the Yellow Mountains in1616 and 1618.
Farther way up is the Golden Sand Hill. At the foot of the hill one can see Yinggu Rock. To the left of the road is the Cave Flying From Afar and to the right is Candle Peak. Crossing the ceve and then the Crescent Pavilion, one finds the Head Knocking Rock. Above the rock in the right direction, one can see traces of the mountain movement of the glacial period half way at Green Phoenix Peak. Further along the road is the Green Phoenix Bridge. Standing on the bridge, one can look up and see the Crucian Carp Back, which is the most perilous point of the Celestial Capital Peak. Turning back, one sees below the Water Screen Cave on Peach Blossom Peak. Crossing the bridge and going through the Drum Beating Cave leads one to the Half Way UP the Mountain Temple.
The temple is located between Old Man Peak and Cinnabar Peak at 1,340 meters above the sea level. One can take a rest and have some tea here before resuming the tour. Looking up in front of the temple, one sees a rock resembling a flying and crowing cock on the Celestial Capital Peak and facing the Heavenly Threshold. This is just the famous grotesque rock ''Golden Cock Crowing towards the Heavenly Gate'', and one can also see the stone engraving of ''Hearing a Cock Crowing in the Sky'' on the rock. Leaving the Half Way UP the Mountain Temple, one may take the new route leading to the Celestial Capital Peak (The old route is to go to the Dragon Slope, pass the Heavenly Threshold, cross the Cloud Nest Cave and then reach the foot of Celestial Capital Peak and climb to the apex of the Celestial Capital Peak.). First one comes to the Tiger Mouth (also known as Guts Testing Wall), and steps on the narrow Three Folding Path. Here, one can see a rock resembling two monks worshiping the Buddha. One may proceed to cross the Three Ladies Cave and climb up the rocky path where the sky seems within reach, to be greeted by an ancient pine. A narrow pines flanked path leads one to the Bell Tower where the rocks ring with bell sounds. After crossing the Springboard Rock, one finally ascends the Celestial Capital Peak, one of the three main peaks of the Yellow Mountains. The celestial Capital Peak rises 1,829 meters high, piercing the clouds. Hence the name. It is ideal for taking a bird-eye view of the unfolding magnificent landscape of the Yellow Mountains. Therefore, one can not claim to have been to the Yellow Mountains without reaching the Celestial Capital Peak.
Descending the Celestial Capital Peak westwards, travelers go through the Immortal Gate Keeper Cave with vivid peach resembling rock formation on the cave, pass Crucian Carp Peak formed during the glacial period and cross the Heavenly Bridge where the Sea Exploring Pine stands. Further down, visitors come to the Heavenly Jade Screen. A half-kilometer long Heavenly Stairs consisting of stairs, stone railings and iron chains winds down the cliff. At the Bottom of the stairs one sees a scene of kid Worshiping the Buddha Guanyin and then reaches the foot of the Celestial Capital Peak.
Turning left from the foot of the Celestial Capital Peak, one steps onto the Jade Screen Stairs and goes through the Care Slope, passes Hassock Rock, crosses the Lying Cloud Cave and the immortal Bridge before reaching a place called A Thread of Sky. As the path here is caught between cliffs, it is so narrow as to allow passage of only one person. Looking above, the sky is reduced to a barely seen thread, hence the name. When one looks back upon leaving the path, three exquisite rocks with several lovely young pines embraced by fleeting clouds come into sight. This fairy scene is referred to as the Three Islets of Fairyland. After crossing Manjusri Cave, one sees the famous Greeting Pine and the Jade Screen Tower.