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23rd May 2024

11 Best Hiking Trails in South Korea: Get Lost in Nature (2023)

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure amidst the stunning landscapes of South Korea? If so, you’re in for a treat!

In this blog post, we’ve handpicked the absolute best hiking trails in South Korea that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

From towering peaks to serene valleys, these trails offer a diverse range of experiences for all nature lovers and adventure seekers.

From our past experience of leading group trips here, we can confidently say that South Korea’s hiking trails are a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

Our last visit to this place taught us that these trails not only showcase the breathtaking beauty of nature but also offer glimpses into the rich history and cultural heritage of the region.

So, put on your hiking boots, grab your backpack, and get ready to explore the hidden gems of this remarkable country.

Best Hiking Trails in South Korea

1. Hallasan Summit

Venture to Jeju Island, a paradise off the southern coast of South Korea, and conquer the majestic Hallasan Summit. This towering peak, standing at 1,950 meters, is the highest point in the country and offers hikers an unparalleled experience.

Choose between the scenic Yeongsil and Seongpanak routes as you ascend through lush forests, vibrant flora, and volcanic landscapes. Reaching the summit rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the surrounding ocean.

Make sure to pack enough water, snacks, and a camera to capture the awe-inspiring beauty along the way.

  • Location: Jeju Island, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 8-10 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for pleasant weather

2. Jirisan Ridge Trek

Embark on the legendary Jirisan Ridge Trek, a thrilling adventure that takes you through South Korea’s first national park. This multi-day trek offers a challenging yet rewarding journey through diverse ecosystems, pristine valleys, and enchanting forests.

Start at Baemsagol Valley, immersing yourself in its tranquil beauty, and continue the ascent towards the majestic Cheonwangbong Peak, the highest point in Jirisan.

Along the way, encounter ancient temples, such as Nogodan and Hwaeomsa, providing a glimpse into the region’s cultural heritage. As you traverse the undulating ridges, be prepared for awe-inspiring vistas that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s artistry.

  • Location: Jirisan National Park, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: 3-4 days for the full trek
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for mild weather and colorful foliage

3. Bukhansanseong Trail

Escape the bustling city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Bukhansan National Park. The Bukhansanseong Trail, a historic fortress trail, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural significance.

As you hike along the well-preserved stone walls, you’ll be transported back in time, discovering the remnants of Bukhansanseong Fortress. Marvel at the panoramic views of Seoul’s skyline from Baegundae Peak, the highest point in the park.

The trail winds through dense forests, picturesque valleys, and ancient Buddhist temples, such as Mangwolsa and Seungasa. Embrace the serenity of this hidden gem and relish in the harmonious convergence of history and nature.

  • Location: Bukhansan National Park, Seoul, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: 4-6 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for mild temperatures and vibrant foliage

4. Daecheongbong Peak, Seoraksan

Seoraksan National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, beckons hikers with its iconic Daecheongbong Peak. Embark on a thrilling journey through rugged terrain, dense forests, and meandering streams as you make your way to the summit.

Along the trail, be captivated by the unique rock formations, including Ulsanbawi and Heundeulbawi, that seem to defy gravity. As you ascend, you’ll witness the transition from lush greenery to an ethereal alpine landscape.

Once atop Daecheongbong Peak, at an elevation of 1,708 meters, be prepared to be astounded by sweeping views of the surrounding valleys and the vast East Sea. This extraordinary hike promises an unforgettable experience for both nature lovers and adventure seekers.

  • Location: Seoraksan National Park, Gangwon Province, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 7-9 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for mild temperatures and colorful foliage

5. Songnisan

Step into a realm of tranquility at Songnisan National Park, a haven for hikers seeking a harmonious blend of nature and spirituality. The park’s diverse trails cater to all levels of hikers, offering a range of experiences.

Explore the famous Beopjusa Temple trail, where the sound of chanting monks accompanies your ascent. Marvel at the towering Maaeyeoraejwasang statue, a symbol of peace and enlightenment.

As you hike through ancient forests and serene valleys, you’ll encounter hidden waterfalls, such as Ssanggoksa and Biroam, adding to the enchantment of your journey. Immerse yourself in the profound serenity of Songnisan and let the mountain reveal its secrets along the way.

  • Location: Songnisan National Park, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Varies depending on the chosen trail
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for pleasant weather and vibrant foliage

6. Naejangsan Ridge Hike

Embark on a captivating ridge hike in Naejangsan National Park, known for its stunning autumn foliage and breathtaking landscapes. The Naejangsan Ridge Hike promises a symphony of colors and natural beauty as you traverse the undulating terrain.

Gaze upon the picturesque Dodeokbawi Rock, an iconic landmark that commands attention with its unique shape. Discover the serenity of Woljeongsa Temple, nestled amidst lush forests, and witness the rituals of Buddhist monks.

Capture the essence of Naejangsan as you soak in panoramic vistas of sweeping valleys and vibrant foliage, creating a mesmerizing tapestry of nature’s brilliance.

  • Location: Naejangsan National Park, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 5-7 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Autumn for vibrant foliage or spring for blooming cherry blossoms

7. Geumjeongsan, Busan

Nestled in the vibrant city of Busan, Geumjeongsan Mountain beckons hikers with its captivating trails and historical significance. The hike to Geumjeongsan Peak offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural exploration.

As you ascend the mountain, you’ll encounter the ancient Geumjeong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the architectural marvels and the panoramic views of Busan cityscape from its vantage points.

Discover the serenity of Beomeosa Temple, an exquisite Buddhist temple that has stood the test of time. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Geumjeongsan and indulge in a harmonious journey that seamlessly blends history, spirituality, and natural splendor.

  • Location: Busan, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 3-4 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for mild temperatures and blooming cherry blossoms

8. Peace Trail, DMZ

Embark on a unique and poignant hiking experience along the Peace Trail, located within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. This trail symbolizes hope, peace, and reconciliation amidst a region marked by tension.

As you traverse this historical border, take in the stunning views from the Dorasan Observatory and reflect on the complex geopolitical situation. Explore the underground tunnels, such as the Third Tunnel, which offers a glimpse into the past.

Witness the remnants of war and the resilient spirit of the Korean people. The Peace Trail is not just a hike; it’s a profound journey through history and a testament to the enduring pursuit of peace.

  • Location: Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Varies depending on the chosen route
  • Best Time to Hike: Year-round, but spring and autumn offer mild weather

9. Dobongsan Trail

Escape the bustling city and venture into the serene forests of Dobongsan Mountain, a beloved hiking spot near Seoul. The Dobongsan Trail offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and panoramic views.

As you ascend the mountain, be captivated by the stunning Sikjangsanseong Fortress, an ancient stone fortress that once guarded the area. Explore the mystical beauty of Surak Waterfall, a hidden gem nestled within the lush greenery.

The highlight of the trail is reaching the majestic Dobong Peak, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the city below. Allow yourself to be immersed in the tranquility of nature while discovering the hidden treasures of Dobongsan.

  • Location: Dobongsan Mountain, Seoul, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 4-6 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for pleasant weather and blooming flowers

10. Ulsanbawi Trail

Seoraksan National Park unveils another gem along its trails—the Ulsanbawi Trail. Prepare to be awe-inspired as you conquer the challenging yet remarkable path to Ulsanbawi Rock.

This towering rock formation, perched atop the mountain, offers a panoramic view of the East Sea that will leave you breathless. Traverse through the lush forests, cross crystal-clear streams, and marvel at the vibrant flora along the way.

The unique geological formations and the grandeur of Ulsanbawi will reward your efforts. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or an adventurous soul, this trail promises an unforgettable experience in the embrace of Seoraksan’s natural splendor.

  • Location: Seoraksan National Park, Gangwon Province, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 4-6 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for mild temperatures and clear views

11. Gwanaksan Peak

Experience the natural beauty just beyond the cityscape of Seoul at Gwanaksan Mountain. The hike to Gwanaksan Peak is a popular choice for both locals and visitors seeking a refreshing outdoor adventure.

The trail leads you through a forested landscape, where you’ll encounter vibrant wildflowers and a variety of bird species. As you ascend, the panoramic views of the city unfold, showcasing the harmonious blend of urban and natural beauty.

Discover the ancient Gwaneumsa Temple, a sacred Buddhist site that provides a serene retreat amidst the mountain’s splendor. Gwanaksan Peak offers a rejuvenating escape into nature, reminding you of the perfect balance between Seoul’s metropolitan allure and the tranquility of the surrounding mountains.

  • Location: Gwanaksan Mountain, Seoul, South Korea
  • Duration of Hike: Approximately 3-4 hours round trip
  • Best Time to Hike: Spring and autumn for pleasant temperatures and colorful foliage

Conclusion – Best Hiking Trails in South Korea

As you come to the end of this exhilarating journey through the best hiking trails in South Korea, we hope you’re feeling inspired and ready to embark on your own adventure.

Whether you choose the breathtaking peaks of Hallasan or the historical trails of Bukhansanseong, these trails offer a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and unforgettable experiences.

So, grab your gear, lace up your boots, and set off to explore the wonders of South Korea’s hiking trails.

Get ready for breathtaking views, serene valleys, and the joy of conquering new heights. Unleash the explorer within and discover the best hiking trails in South Korea—one step at a time.

FAQs – Best Hiking Trails in South Korea

What are the best hiking trails in South Korea?

When it comes to the best hiking trails in South Korea, you can’t miss Hallasan Summit, Jirisan Ridge Trek, Bukhansanseong Trail, Daecheongbong Peak in Seoraksan, Songnisan, Naejangsan Ridge Hike, Geumjeongsan in Busan, and the Peace Trail in the DMZ. Each trail offers its own unique beauty and adventure, showcasing South Korea’s diverse landscapes.

How long are the hikes and how difficult are they?

The duration of the hikes varies, but generally, they can range from 3-10 hours depending on the trail and your pace. The difficulty level also varies, with some trails being more challenging than others. It’s important to research and choose a trail that suits your fitness level and hiking experience.

When is the best time to hike in South Korea?

Spring and autumn are the best times to hike in South Korea. During these seasons, the weather is usually mild and pleasant, making it ideal for outdoor activities. Spring brings blooming cherry blossoms, while autumn offers vibrant foliage, adding an extra touch of beauty to your hiking experience.

Are these hiking trails suitable for beginners?

Some of the trails, like Bukhansanseong and Geumjeongsan, offer less strenuous options that are suitable for beginners. However, it’s important to assess your fitness level and choose a trail that matches your capabilities. Always be prepared with proper hiking gear, water, snacks, and a map.

Can I hike these trails without a guide?

Yes, many of these trails can be hiked without a guide. They are well-marked and have clear paths to follow. However, if you’re new to hiking or unfamiliar with the area, it can be beneficial to have a guide who can provide insights, ensure your safety, and enhance your overall experience.

What are the must-see attractions along these hiking trails?

Each trail offers its own must-see attractions. From the ancient temples along the Jirisan Ridge Trek to the stunning views from Daecheongbong Peak in Seoraksan, there are plenty of awe-inspiring sights to discover. Don’t forget to explore the cultural landmarks, such as fortresses and temples, that are nestled within these natural wonders.

How do I prepare for hiking in South Korea?

To prepare for hiking in South Korea, make sure to check the weather conditions and dress accordingly. Wear comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes, and pack essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to inform someone about your hiking plans and carry a map or GPS device for navigation.

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