The autumn season in South Korea is possibly one of the best fall foliage in the world. The distinct myriad of colourful leaves in burst of red, orange, yellow and specks of green and purplish brown coloured the surrounding all over Korean cities and her national parks.
Situated in the northeastern region of Gangwon province of South Korea, Mount Seorak (known as Seoraksan in Korean) National Park is a popular place to see the beautiful autumn colours. Each year, many visitors, young or old, local or overseas would flock there to admire the foliage. Ideally, the best time to see autumn leaves would be from late October to mid-November.
Seoraksan is also home to the third highest and most beautiful mountain in South Korea. Together with its main peak, Daecheongbong, the national park has a total of 30 imposing peaks and countless hiking trails. Hikers are treated to a galore of magnificent scenery that includes cliffs, waterfalls and lots of natural beauty.
Our trip to hike in Seoraksan National Park took place in the 3rd week of October with the highlight focus to ascend Ulsanbawi and Daecheongbong.
The hiking vacation starts off a leisure walk around Lake Majang and Jeongdong Simgok Sea Fan Road as part of our warm up to accustom to the temperature in the outdoors.
The walk around (reservoir) Lake Majang comprises of boardwalk and compact nature trails. The walk is easily and can be attempted by most visitors. A walk around the entire lake is around 5 KM and takes about 2 – 3 hours, including plenty of time visitors will need to stop to take pictures. We didn’t manage to cover the whole lake but we took a shortcut by crossing the suspended pedestrian bridge, said to be able to carry up to 1,200 people.
The weather permitting Jeongdong Simgok Sea Fan Road is a 2.86 KM coastal trail and it is the only coastal peninsula area in Korea that tectonic changes of 23 million years ago can be observed. It used to be part of the military protected area and out of bounds to civilians. Currently, the entire trail built with wooden and steel boardwalk offers stunning charm of sheer rock cliffs and the view of the cool blue sea. As it is still maintained by the Korean military, hence no photo taking is allowed once you embark on the trail.
One of the ascents highlight of this trip is the hike to Ulsanbawi. A rock hill shaped with 6 rocky peaks. Standing at 873 metres above sea level, it is the most well-known attraction at Seoraksan Mountain. Hence the sheer amount of hikers attempting the hike despite it was a weekday.
The trail brings us to Heundeulbawi (rock) with a gentle hike over rock paths and wooden stairs climb. It is a large rock that rests on top of a larger stone platform and it rocks back and forth when pushed. Naturally, we must make a stop here for a photo.
The trail gets steeper with more stairs climb and rocky trails with continuous ascent. Soon, we reached the summit of Ulsanbawi. From here, we saw the gorgeous scenery of Seorak Mountain range, the East Sea, Dalma Peak, Haksapyeong Reservoir and our resort. We took a break at the summit and refuel our energy with food we brought along.
Then we start our descent as set a target to complete the hike in 5 hours which is a benchmark if we were fit enough to attempt Daecheongbong the next day. Therefore we are very happy with our performance which we not only complete Ulsanbawi in under 5 hours, we had some time to enjoy cooling running water along the stream when we reached the base.
It was a long hike on the day when we hiked Daecheongbong. We planned the day’s programme to be a linear hike where we will ascend using the Osaek route and descend via Yangpok Shelter. The trail up to the summit is considered one of the shortest yet with continuous steep ascent on rock paths. The distance to reach the top is around 5 KM.
As we got closer to the summit, we began to see snow littered along the trails which brought some delights to us. It has been snowing on the top of Daecheongbong a week before we came and luckily snowing stopped 3 days before our hike and the path cleared. Otherwise we would not be able to attempt the ascent unless we have crampons on our hiking shoes.
We didn’t make a long stop at the summit, standing at 1,708 M as the wind was strong and chilly. After taking all the pictures we must, we quickly descend. The trail via Yangpok Shelter is gentler with rocky paths and many stairs descent, yet the route is much longer at 11 KM which in fact, more physical stamina is required to complete the hike. Mental endurance is also required to carry our fatigue body to the bottom of the mountain. Nevertheless, the panoramic view during the descent is simply stunning.
If you want to see more of our experiences, you may take a look at the photo album on Facebook or watch the video.
If the pictures and video couldn’t whet your appetite, come join us to see with your own eyes and experience the hike yourself! Check out the itinerary andbook as soon as possible.
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