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.
Sophia (my wife) had visited Seoraksan a few times in her youth, sometimes doing it by herself as a ludicrously long day trip from the city of Incheon. Being too old for that sort of thing, we opted to stay the night in the mineral springs resort of Osaek. From there we took the most direct but perhaps least scenic route to Daecheongbong peak (1708m), the highest peak in the park, and the third highest in the country. We then continued on to the main park entrance near Sinheungsa temple, taking the classic route through scenery that gave me such a natural high that I felt a bit giddy. It was tricky to photograph though, as so much of the scenery was vertical, but I did my best. I also took lots of pictures of leaves, if you like that sort of thing. Track notes at the end.
We were able to plan our trip using maps available online, from tourist information centres and at the track head where we started. The tracks are all constructed and well signposted. Starting at Osaek, it’s a straightforward ascent to Daecheonbong, but you’ll need to follow the signs on the way down to end up at the main park entrance, Sogongwon. Basically don’t take any of the left turns. Here’s a link to a Korean tourism page suggesting various routes to enjoy Autumn leaves; note that their course ‘C’ is the route we took but in the opposite direction (as follows… “Sogongwon Ticket Office – Biseondae – Cheonbuldong Valley – Daecheongbong Peak – Seorak Falls – Osaekjujeongol (16km / 11hrs 20min”).