The mountain peaks of Bukhansan National Park can be seen from many points in Seoul and is a must see if you are an adventurous one. With around five million visitors each year, it’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most Visited National Park per Unit Area”. It offers a quick and easy escape from the busy city streets and shopping centers, not to mention a break from the heat in the summer. There is no better way to discover the beauty of the park than to hike some of the trails and summit one of the many peaks.
South Koreans take their hiking VERY seriously and it is one of the most popular activities in the county. Local hikers are an interesting sight too with GoreTex trekking suits and enough gear to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for a simple day hike. Almost everyone packed gimbap and soju for the hike as well; part of a tradition. Gimbap sure, but a bottle of liquor at the summit? Nothing like a stumbly decent down the mountain side I guess.
Bukhansan National Park is easily accessible from Seoul using public transportation and in less than a half hour I was surrounded by mountains and wilderness. We planned to hike Baegundae Peak, the highest peak in Bukhansan National Park.
We followed the trail north , often having walkways and ramps build to accommodate the high traffic. We eventually came to a spectacular temple perched on the mountainside with incredible buildings, statues and views. The trail is hard to find on the other side of the temple grounds but keep walking and you will either find the trial or a rock face that will lead to the trial visible by the railings.
Unfortunately we didn’t find Baegundae, the terrible map and my inability to read Korean had us take a left too early and put us on a very similar trial to Wonhyobong Peak. A common mistake, locals say, when people are not familiar with the parks trails. “It is the second bridge, not the first, You should have gone straight!” says a local hiker as we descended. The hike was still a great trek and offered stunning views of the city below. Also, we walked through a temple that we wouldn’t have seen on the other trail.
It is possible to continue on to a connecting trail to the summit Baegundae after Wonhyobong, but we were nearly out of water and had to descend.
Subway Line 3 to Gupabal Station + and bus 402 to Bukhansanseong. Follow the big group of hikers!
With around five million visitors each year, it’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most Visited National Park per Unit Area”.
Baegundae is the highest peak in the park.
Bring plenty of water and be well hydrated.
Pay close attention to the signs and get a good map. The one we used was available at the information desk near the entrance for 1000 Won, but try to find something better.
Don’t forget the gimbap and soju! You will see small metal mugs hanging from the locals packs for drinking soju, pick one up from a street vendor on the way!