Rise at sparrow crack to take best advantage: Ascend three-quarters of the rugged mountain by cable car in the early morning, then hike 45 minutes to reach the circuitous network of peaks. Renowned for rock formations, hot springs, uniquely shaped pines and misty clouds, the 72-peak Huangshan Mountain range is also home to bountiful lakes, waterfalls, streams and wildlife.
In the afternoon, stroll the peaks a couple more hours and cross to the other side of the ridge to appreciate dramatic views of vertiginous canyons.
In fall you are likely to view timeless tusks piercing the swirling mist or seas of pink-tinged clouds floating between Huangshan’s jagged ridges. For a chance of seeing the spectacular “sea of clouds” created when cold air compresses between a circle of granite peaks, try visiting during the winter months between December and February.