The Road to Shu was paved with flagstones as early as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) with some slabs as large as a foot thick and two feet wide. They were painstakingly fitted together to form a roadway which in some places was as broad as nine feet across. Hills were tackled head- on, with the flags laid out as steps going straight up the steepest slopes. Over the centuries missing flags were replaced and today it is hard to tell how old the well-worn flags you are walking actually are. According to the locals, the stone steps cut out of solid rock (right top) go all the way back to the Han. All the hikes out of Puan and Jianmenguan have much of their flagstone not only intact but also shaded by ancient cypress trees (below). Farther north in the more rugged Qinling Mountains, the hikes are mostly along dirt trails with an occasional stretch of flagstone (right bottom), to reassure you that you are indeed hiking the old road.