Wednesday, June 3, 2009

For the hikers among us...they have mountains in Seoul

Sampling Seoul
Print E-mail
Chasing Maple in the City
Seoul's Top 5 Hiking Spots

It's that time of year again when the autumn leaves start to show lovely shades of red, orange and gold. Koreans love this particular time, when they head to the mountains to look at the changing colors of the dan-pung, or maple leaves. We'll tell you where to go to see some of fall's fantastic foliage.

1) Gwanaksan Mountain
With a beautiful boulder stream and a wide climbing path, Gwanaksan offers the naturalist a taste of all that is lovely and good in Seoul. The varying trail and open spaces allow one to take in the romance of it all while hiking up an intermediate level mountain. For a little cultural edification along with your exercise, hike to the three-story stone pagoda (2.7 km up) or to the Portrait of Prince Pyoryeong (2.7 km up). Take Subway Line No. 4 to Gwacheon Central Government Complex Station, exit no. 10. Walk straight from the exit for about 15 minutes. Follow the road as it curves to the right, look for two spirit posts on your left to mark the entrance to Gwanak Mountain.

2) Cheonggyesan Mountain
Think of this mountain like a "Hiking 101" class and a good introduction to the whole Korean hiking thing. With gradual slopes, clearly marked trails through lots of "tree tunnels," and plenty of pretty wooded pavilions, you'll not lack for any colorful displays here, though your will probably thank you. From Sinsa Station, take Bus 8442 to the Cheonggyesan Mountain entrance stop. Cross under the bridge where the outdoor market is and walk up past the little diners to the clearly marked trails. Two main courses, about 2 hours and an hour and a half, respectively.

3) Suraksan Mountain
This mountain is by far the most fun to climb. While it starts out relatively slow with its moderate incline, sparse woods and dusty gravel path, a little more than halfway up, you get to scramble over enormous boulders and navigate granite inclines. The more experienced hikers casually walk down a 70-degree incline, their hiking boots magically sticking to the rock face. The views are well worth the hike as well, as Suraksan Mountain is surrounded by various peaks, providing optimal views of autumn's colors. Take Subway Line No. 7 to Suraksan Station, exit no. 2. Walk straight for less than five minutes and turn left when you see the silver clock fountain. Follow the trickling mountain water fountain until you hit the base of the mountain.

4) Dobongsan Mountain
Well known for its challenging hikes, the mountain itself looks rather intimidating. Located northeast of Bukhansan Mountain, Dobongsan is famous for its beautiful rock walls. The mountain has many beautiful peaks such as Jaunbong (the highest at 739.5 meters), and boasts picturesque mountain temples. Take Subway Line No. 1 to Dobongsan Station. Get on the National Road and walk for ten minutes. Another option is to take Bus No. 141, No. 142 at City Hall to U-I-dong for 50 minutes.

5) Bukhansan Mountain
Located just north of Seoul and visible from Gyeongbukgung Palace, Bukhansan Mountain offers towering granite peaks and a more adventurous hike for those who like to be challenged. Full of lush greenery-now a rainbow of autumnal hues - and a voluptuous mountain stream, Bukhansan is surely worth the effort. From City Hall, take Bus No. 704 or 8771 to its last stop. From there, board the mountain shuttle bus to the ticket booth and hike to your heart's content. Get there early - hikes usually last all day.

No comments:

Post a Comment