Daecheongbong Peak traverse, Seoraksan, South Korea

Really spectacular hiking in Seoraksan National Park, on the north-east coast of South Korea. There were peak autumn colours, countless rock spires and sheer cliffs towering overhead, as well as waterfalls, super cute squirrels, and a significant Buddhist temple near the end of the walk.

Seoraksan National Park is reputed to be the most beautiful part of South Korea, and with good reason. I was lucky to time my first trip to the park with peak Autumn colours, so I got the full experience. Despite having walked for hours already, the scenery in the latter third of the walk was so fantastic that I bounded down the mountain like a manic mountain goat, feeling no tiredness due to the scenery-fuelled adrenaline in my system. Keep wading through my many photos to see this section, and also a few photos at the end of the Buddhist temple Sinheungsa. Continue reading “Daecheongbong Peak traverse, Seoraksan, South Korea”

Nokogirisan / Odakesan / Mitakesan, Western Tokyo, Japan

Three peaks on this longish walk in far Western Tokyo, the highest of which is Odake-san (Mt Odake) at 1266m of elevation. The views can be good if it’s a clear day, but there’s also attractive forest scenery and an excellent shrine near the end of the walk.

If you are travelling to Tokyo it’s possible to do some hiking in the far western reaches of the Greater Tokyo area. We did this walk up and across three peaks – Nokogirisan, Odakesan (1266m), and Mitakesan – in a day, travelling by public transport, and still managed to get back to Tokyo for a shower and then dinner (you’ll want to start early). The views are apparently excellent on parts of this walk (you can see Mt Fuji on a clear day) however not on the day we did it – winter is probably the best time for visibility. We walked in mid autumn before the colours had changed, and it got quite hazy by time we ascended, so we instead enjoyed the walk for the forest scenery, a number of small shrines along the route, and the impressive Mitake Shrine on Mt Mitake itself. Continue reading “Nokogirisan / Odakesan / Mitakesan, Western Tokyo, Japan”

Gwaneumsa Track, Hallasan, Jeju Island South Korea

The dormant volcano Hallasan is South Korea’s tallest mountain at 1950m of elevation, and dominates the subtropical Jeju Island (Jeju-do). The Gwaneumsa Trail most is the most scenic of two routes to the top.

When Sophia and I first visited Jeju Island many years ago, we walked up Hallasan along the less scenic route to the summit, but only as far as the tree line, as they had closed the rest of the track for repairs. We also had to wind in and out of hundreds of school students, so it was just an okay experience. Consequently, I had only moderate expectations when we set out in early Autumn 2017 on the reputedly more scenic and less travelled Gwaneumsa Track, but the walk very much exceeded expectations. Continue reading “Gwaneumsa Track, Hallasan, Jeju Island South Korea”

Federal Pass & Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Blue Mountains NP, NSW

A classic Blue Mountains circuit walk at Katoomba. There are extensive views, spectacular cliffs, numerous impressive waterfalls, and a variety of vegetation and bird life. Perhaps best done on a weekday to avoid the crowds at popular and accessible spots.

This walk takes in some of the best bits of the Blue Mountains near Katoomba, and is highly recommended. You’ll enjoy views of cliffs, waterfalls and lush forest along much of the route, and definitely visit Bridal Veil Falls and Leura Cascades on your way down to or up from the Federal Pass.  Continue reading “Federal Pass & Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Blue Mountains NP, NSW”

The Coast Track, Royal National Park, Sydney

One of Sydney’s classic bushwalks, the 27-30km Coast Track is a smorgasboard of coastal scenery, including plenty of sandy beaches, cliffs, weathered rocks, prominent headlands, lagoons, and heathland.

The Royal National Park Coast Track is a classic 26-29km walk along the full length of the park’s coastline, just south of Sydney. There are unspoilt sandy beaches galore, shear cliffs, prominent headlands, interesting rocks, heathland, lagoons, pockets of forest, and even a palm jungle. There are a bunch of shorter day walks that take in sections of this walk, but only the full walk allows you to properly overdose on quintessential NSW coastal scenery. Continue reading “The Coast Track, Royal National Park, Sydney”

Heathcote-Waterfall Circuit, Heathcote National Park & Royal National Park, Sydney

Combining two shorter walks into one, there are multiple swimmable pools on this long circuit in the Royal National Park and Heathcote National Park in Sydney’s south.

Two walks and two national parks for the price of one here, easily accessible in southern Sydney. Not really a views walk, there are instead a number of picturesque pools on this long circuit walk, most of them swimmable in warm weather, and on the day I took these pictures there were some very healthy Gymea Lilies in flower. You can walk between Heathcote and Waterfall train stations as one way walks with a return trip by train. Continue reading “Heathcote-Waterfall Circuit, Heathcote National Park & Royal National Park, Sydney”

Evans Lookout/Pulpit Rock/Popes Glen/Braeside Walk, Blue Mountains NP, NSW

Cliffs galore on this longish walk on the edge of the Grose Valley near Blackheath. The spectacular views are at least a match for those over the Jamison Valley near Katoomba.

The eastern side of Blackheath is pretty spectacular, and the walk described here takes in the best of the cliff top views in the area. It includes the viewpoints of Evans Lookout and Govetts Leap that you can drive to, and also Pulpit Rock which is a short walk from Pulpit Rock Road. However there are ever changing views for as long as you are on the cliffs’ edge, and turning it into a partial circuit via Popes Glenn and the Braeside Walk adds some atmospheric variety.  Continue reading “Evans Lookout/Pulpit Rock/Popes Glen/Braeside Walk, Blue Mountains NP, NSW”

Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ

Climbing Ben Lomond (1748m) is a must do for any reasonably fit hiker visiting Queenstown. The route we take to the top starts on the edge of town, and at first passes through beech forest, then pine forest, and once above the treeline it’s tussock grass until the summit, where there are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.

Standing on the summit of Ben Lomond on a clear enough day, you can blindly point your camera in any direction and come away with an epic landscape shot. There are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, and depending on the weather conditions these views might look very different, as the photos that follow will demonstrate. Continue reading “Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown NZ”

Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ

An excellent walk through tussock grass to the barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range (point 1857m), in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago.

An excellent walk to the top of the Hawkdun Range (1857m) in the remote Maniototo region of Central Otago, famous for its isolated vistas of golden tussock grass and mountains. The walk starts in the Manuherikia Valley, and after a flat start rises steeply up to the long and barren summit plateau of the Hawkdun Range: about 1100m of ascent and descent. Not as dramatic as the Southern Alps, but very atmospheric, and we had the place to ourselves.  Continue reading “Hawkdun Range ascent (point 1857m), Maniototo, Central Otago NZ”

Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ

This long walk climbs through farmland to the Waikerikeri Conservation Area, and then through rugged tussock grass country to the barren summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), where there are many large tors.

A fairly long walk to the summit of Leaning Rock (1647m), the latter half of which is off track in the Waikerikeri Conservation Area. Starting in farmland, the walk ascends up Lilico Spur to the edge of the conservation area. From there the scenery is predominantly tussock grass, rocky areas, and finally the barren summit moonscape replete with multiple tors of various shapes and sizes. The overall feeling is one of remoteness, (although there are major  communications installations on the summit). Continue reading “Leaning Rock via Lilico Spur, Central Otago NZ”