There is a place on the northeast coast of South Korea called Seoraksan National Park. It is one of the most beautiful and challenging places that I have ever hiked, and I hope you get the chance to go there some day.
I went with my friends Will and Ash. I only had a weekend, which is not enough to do the whole park. But, I did what I could.
There are some easy activities, like taking the cable car up to the top of one of the peaks, or enjoying tea in one of the temples. We did do those things the first day, but we also did the really hard hike to the Ulsan Bawi mountain on the second day, and then climbed the 888 stairs to the top.
It was a very difficult hike, and it took us most of the second day.
On the trail up to the stairs we came upon a temple, a place to refill out water bottles, and some quirky rock stacks.
The views along the trail are really amazing. I did it in October, which is really the best time of year. It’s cool, and the trees are starting to turn. I went about a week to early to see the best of the colors, but it was the only time I could make it.
The picture above is of Dragon Ridge, which you can see from the Ulsan Bawi trail. However, that is a two-day hike and I didn’t have time for it.
Instead, I did the second-hardest hike in the park.
We stopped halfway up to have a picnic lunch that we brought and play a little frizbie. Will is the kind of kid that likes frizbie. It’s not my thing, but I like to make my friends happy.
Sure, there is a temple to stop at along the way. There are places to get water. It’s a great trail that is well, worn.
However, the air is thin and it’s a long hike.
However, if you get to the top, it’s an amazing feeling.
Don’t go for just one day. The mountains make it very hard to predict what the weather will be like, and there is way too much to see in a day.
Instead, go for a weekend, or even an entire week. It’s a huge park with far more trails than I was able to do, and you can easily spend a week just hiking around.
Here is me with the flag on top of the mountain. Such triumph!
Camping is permitted, but I stayed in the nearby village of Sokcho and took the bus in each day. I didn’t have a tent and all the gear needed to camp since I moved to Korea in suitcases.
No matter how long you go for, try to do one of the hard hikes. I didn’t have time for Dragon Ridge, but I am told it’s amazing as well. It’s really worth it for the views, which on a clear day extend all the way to the East Sea (or outside of Korea; the sea of Japan.)