Huashan is made up of two hiking entrance/exits, two cable car entrance/exits, and five peaks. Here's an overview map:
There are a number of possible route options:
- Easiest (4-6 hours): take the cable car up to the West Peak, then hike counterclockwise to the south, east, central, then finally north peak. From the north peak, take the cable car down. You get to see most of Huashan, and the entire way you're mostly hiking downhill so it's easy. Downside is the added expense of two cable car rides
- Balanced (8-10 hours, probably the most popular option): hike up from Yuquanyuan to the north peak, then go clockwise to central, east, south, and finally west peak. Then take the cable car down from the west peak. In the first half of March and mid-September through end of November, you can catch the sunset from the west peak before taking the cable car down (in the rest of the year the cable car stops before sunset)
- Fairly comprehensive (11-13 hours): hike up from Yuquanyuan to the north peak, then hike either clockwise or counterclockwise to the other 4 peaks, finally returning to the north peak. From north peak, take the cable car down. You can also do this in reverse. This is a very exhausting hike and you'll need to rush the entire way to do this in one day
- Most comprehensive (2 days, not too rushed each day): take the steep 3-hour hike up to the north peak from the east cable car station, then go clockwise to central, east, south, and west peak. Watch the sunset from west peak, then check into a hotel on any of the peaks except south. Wake up early and watch the sunrise from the east peak, then hike back to the north peak and down Huashan through Yuquanyuan. You should book your hotel ahead of time
Of course, you don't have to do either of the four options, you can do whatever you want. The nice thing about Huashan is that the park itself is open 24 hours, so there's really no constraint (aside from the cable car hours if you want to do that) for you if you want to take your time.