While spending a few days in I had experienced and amazing day trip and beautiful peaceful hike to the Great Wall. Before leaving I found a local guide on AirBnb, and the entire walk up was just myself, her, and a nice guy from Germany who works for a university. We drove about 1.5 hours to a small village, far away from the section the big tour groups are taken to.
We walked to the top of one of the ridges and back, about four miles round trip. While not a difficult hike, (just many steps), the steeper section are a ramp of smooth bricks, and the recent snowfall made that part very slick – and I did not bring hiking shoes.
Every quarter mile or so is a two-story lookout tower, and along the entire wall are arrowslits for defense. These also help to grab on to when sliding down in the snow. Our guide knew all of the history, enjoys doing this regularly and has made it into a small business for herself.
At the top we met some local guys who had walked up from the other side one town over. We all took some great photos, and made it back down as the sun was setting.