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”

Gyeyangsan, Incheon, South Korea

Gyeyangsan (395m) is a reasonable sized mountain in suburban Incheon that provides extensive views over the northern end of the city. A hazy day limited our views a bit, but in the right weather the views will extend to the sea, and probably to Bukhansan National Park in Seoul. Worth the trip out if you live in the area.

When visiting my wife’s family in Incheon in October 2017, we did a couple of suburban hikes, which are possible in many Korean cities because they often have small and sometimes not so small mountains within the city boundaries. What they completely lack in remoteness they gain in often extensive views of Korea’s impressively dense city scapes, and Gyeyangsan (395m) is one of these walks. Continue reading “Gyeyangsan, Incheon, 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”

Songaksan Circuit, Jeju-do, South Korea

An easy coastal walk around the small extinct volcano of Songaksan, on the southernmost section of Jeju Island. Nice if you are staying in the area.

The Island of Jeju is dominated by South Korea’s tallest mountain, Hallasan, and I presume this offers the best walking on the Island. Nevertheless, there is a trail called Jeju Ole that circumnavigates the island, and is broken up into a series of sections. We (my wife Sophia and a few family members) walked a short portion of section 10, around the extinct volcano of Songaksan. It’s an easy walk and doesn’t require any hiking gear. The scenery was nice enough, including views along the coast in both directions, and to small islands which form the southernmost points in South Korea.  Continue reading “Songaksan Circuit, Jeju-do, South Korea”

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”

Yeongmori Coast & Sanbangsa Temple, Jeju-do, South Korea

These two very short walks exceeded expectations, offering impressive coastal scenery, views of a big lump of lava called Sanbangsan, a visit to Sanbangsa Temple at the foot of the mountain, then up to a cave with views of the coast.

There were two walks just a short stroll away from where we stayed on Jeju Island when holidaying there in 2017, so we paid the combined entrance fee to the short coastal walk and nearby temple/cave walk, perhaps not expecting all that much, but they turned out to be very much worth it. The rocks and cliffs of the Yeongmori Coast section made for great coastal scenery, and the Buddhist temple Sanbangsa is situated in an impressive spot below sheer cliffs on the 395m mountain Sanbangsan, with a cave and views a short but steep walk further up the mountain. Continue reading “Yeongmori Coast & Sanbangsa Temple, Jeju-do, South Korea”

Obongsan, Nonhyeon-dong, Incheon, South Korea

Obongsan (Five Peaks Mountain) is a suburban mountain (actually a hill at just 105m of elevation) situated in an obscure spot in southern Incheon that just happens to be close to my Mother-in-law’s apartment. It’s actually quite a nice walk, but perhaps not one to seek out unless you live nearby.

Obongsan (Five Peaks Mountain) is a diminutive mountain (in other words a hill) in southern Incheon, very close to my Mother-in-law’s place. We went up a few times to work off our holiday indulgences, and I imagine only locals would visit. A convenient and pleasant way to get outdoors and keep fit if you happen to live in the area. Continue reading “Obongsan, Nonhyeon-dong, Incheon, South Korea”

Baegunbong/Baekundae ascent, Bukhansan National Park, Seoul, South Korea

Located within the Seoul City boundary, Baegunbong (or Beakundae, 836m), the highest peak in Bukhansan National Park, is a spectacular lump of granite, and climbing it makes for an excellent and easily accessed day-hike. Just expect many others to join you if it’s the weekend or a holiday.

Bukhansan National Park (Dobong Section) is located in the northern suburbs of Seoul. The highest peak, Daegunbong (or Daekundae, 836m), is an enormous granite summit that provides excellent views of the surrounding area (subject to weather and pollution levels). The walk to the top gets quite adventurous as you walk steeply up the smooth granite summit, inevitably queuing with many others on the narrow and precipitous sections if you do it on a weekend or holiday (as I did). But despite the crowds it was an excellent walk. Continue reading “Baegunbong/Baekundae ascent, Bukhansan National Park, Seoul, South Korea”