Daecheongbong Peak, Seoraksan NP 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.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

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.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Autumn colours pretty much from the get go.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
The track was constructed for most of the way up.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sophia ascending.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
That top of the world feeling at this spot. The autumn colours ran out about 1100-1200m of elevation.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sophia and me on Daecheonbong (1708m), the highest peak in Seoraksan National Park.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Taken from the summit: I thought this would be the money shot, but I was wrong about that. There was more spectacular scenery to come down in amongst those rocky slopes.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Another view from near the summit. They do nice cairns in Korea.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Looking back up at the summit, about to be covered in mist. Lucky we got our views in before this happened.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
It got very misty at the higher altitudes once we’d left the summit. There was a helicopter flying in and out delivering supplies to a mountain hut.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
This type of squirrel was ubiquitous, and very tame (at least those near the track were). I guess these tracks get a lot of use.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sophia and me in a misty spot.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Still misty at this elevation.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Beginning our descent back into autumn leaves, and also the beginning of countless sheer cliffs and towering spires.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sophia in amongst colourful trees.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
The autumn colours were just fantastic.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Heaven’s Waterfall (I think).
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Such contrasting colours. None of my autumn colour close ups were enhanced in any way (except I lightened some of them due to the overcast conditions).
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
The track followed this stream for much of the descent.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Yellow maple leaves with red highlights. A bit unusual.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Looking out over the lip of a waterfall, although it’s hard to tell that from the photo.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Such spectacular scenery on this walk, only it was very hard to capture the scale of these towering cliffs in a photo.

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
A gorge.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Cuteness overload!

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP

Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Big Buddha and lamp near Sinheungsa temple.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
The big Buddha statue near Sinheungsa temple. I captured some family members bowing. The little girl on the right was trying to do headstands on the mat. Future yogi?
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
The bridge leading to Sinheungsa temple.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sinheungsa temple
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Col0urful carvings at Sinheungsa temple.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sinheungsa temple.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
These two guys were pretty cool. At Sinheungsa temple gate.
Daecheongbong ascent, Seoraksan NP
Sinheungsa temple grounds.

Track Notes

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”).

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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