8 South Korea Hiking Trails You Don’t Want To Miss

Korea Hiking Trails

Korea is a paradise for active travellers. Hiking is a national pastime and there are trails for all abilities all over the country. Its natural beauty is just begging to be explored and with it being the same size as England, it’s pretty easy to do! Here are eight Korea hiking trails you have to do on your next visit.

Bukhansan National Park

If you think National Parks are remote and hard to get to, think again! Bukhansan is practically in Seoul itself, easily reachable by subway and bus. It even has a Guinness World Record for highest number of visitors per square foot. There is plenty to see too. From numerous Bukhansanseong Fortress gates that are dotted around the park to the Golden Buddha at the Guknyeongsa Temple, there is no shortage of sights. And then there is the hiking of course. Most people summit the Baegundae Peak which offers amazing views of Seoul but there are other, less trodden paths which take you to other peaks in the park. Views are equally sublime.

Bukhansan National Park - Korea hiking trails
Standing just under Baegundae Peak
Golden Buddha at Guknyeongsa Temple - Korea hiking trails
Golden Buddha at Guknyeongsa Temple

Seoraksan National Park

Some of the best hiking in Korea can be enjoyed here. The trek up to Daecheongbong Peak, 3rd highest in Korea, is tough but well worth the effort. The views along the trail are stunning, jagged peaks rising above the clouds and fields of wildflowers clinging to the slopes. There are waterfalls, bridges and ropes to negotiate on your climb. Elsewhere, there is a temple and beautiful Yukdam Falls. Those less adventurous can take a cable car for some great views. Hikes for all abilities – ranging in length. Most visitors base themselves in nearby city of Sokcho, which is itself interesting to explore for a day – with beaches, markets and a hand-pulled ferry called Gaetbae.

Seoraksan National Park - Korea hiking trails
Seoraksan National Park
Sokcho - Korea hiking trails
Sokcho

Sobaeksan National Park/Danyang

Probably the most off-the-beaten-path option on this list, Sobaeksan is yet another awesome hiking destination. The hike to Bironong peak is a straightforward 3-4 hour return trip but there are plenty of other options as well as temples within the NP. Add the incredible Guinsa temple and otherworldly Gosu Cave nearby – all accessible from the town of Danyang where most visitors base themselves – and you have a perfect mix for an adventurous couple of days. Paragliding is another popular activity for visitors and you can often spot them circling over the town.

Sobaeksan National Park - Korea hiking trails
Sobaeksan National Park
Guinsa Temple - Korea hiking trails
Guinsa Temple

Gyeongju National Park

While the city of Gyeongju itself has plenty to keep visitors busy, it’s the surrounding National Park that has some of the most interesting sights in the area. Bulguk-sa Temple, a 30 minute bus ride away, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is worth exploring. It’s then possible to hike to Seokguram Grotto (another UNESCO site) via a 2.2 km trail. Elsewhere Namsan Mountain just south of the city is perfect for nature and culture loves, its many trails sprinkled with shrines, rock carvings and ruins which make the hiking even more interesting.

A shrine on Namsan Mountain - Korea hiking trails
A shrine on Namsan Mountain, Gyeongju
Bulguk-sa - Korea hiking trails
Bulguk-sa Temple, Gyeongju

Busan

Korea’s second city has plenty to offer – from its sandy beaches to bustling markets and temples. It also has plenty of mountains on its doorstep with great hiking opportunities. Beomeosa Temple, north of the city, is well worth a visit but instead of heading back to the beach, head up sacred Mt. Geumjeongsan. Hike to the 801 metre summit of Godangbong or walk along remains of ancient fortress walls. There are great views from the top and numerous trails around the mountain. Alternatively, head to Taejongdae park for strolls through pine forests and along rocky cliffs. There are great views of the ocean and, on a clear day, even Japanese islands.

View from Mt. Geumjeonsan - Korea hiking trails
View from Mt. Geumjeongsan
Beomeosa Temple - Korea hiking trails
Beomeosa Temple grounds

Jeju Island

Korea’s largest island is an active traveller’s playground. Mountains, caves, beaches and great hiking await visitors who make the short plane hop from the mainland. Jeju is home to Korea’s highest peak, Hallasan, standing tall at 1950m. The Olle Trail that circumnavigates the whole island has been designed to be tackled in manageable chunks while ascending a volcanic crater at Seongsan Ilchulbong is a special experience. Add to that quirky museums like erotic Love Land, great food and beautiful beaches to relax on and Jeju cements its place as a must on any Korea itinerary.

View from Hallasan, Jeju Island - Korea hiking trails
View from Hallasan, Jeju Island (credir: Ning Tan)

Jirisan National Park

Korea’s first national park was established in 1967 and plays an important spiritual and conservational role. The country’s second highest mountain is considered sacred and visitors flock here to tackle the Cheonwangbong Peak or to attempt various multi-day hikes, stopping off at various shelters scattered around the mountains. The park boasts almost 5000 species of flora and fauna including the Asian black bear, with projects to restore the population in the area ongoing.

Jirisan National Park - Korea hiking trails
Jirisan National Park (source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjmagnuson/)

Namsan Park, Seoul

Mt. Namsan is located right in the centre of Seoul, making it popular with tourists and locals alike. While it’s possible to take a bus or a cable car to the top, it’s the leisurely climb to its peak (262m) that’s most interesting. Making your way through Namsan Park, you will come across locals walking, cycling and exercising in free outdoor gyms. Couples stroll its leafy paths and students from nearby university relax between lectures. Once at the top, there is plenty to do with N Seoul Tower offering amazing views of the city as well as many cafes and restaurants. There is also a traditional pavilion, love locks installations and even remains of the old fortress wall. It’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

View of N Seoul Tower from Namsan Park - Korea hiking trails
View of N Seoul Tower from Namsan Park
Love Locks at top of Mt. Namsan - Korea hiking trails
Love Locks at top of Mt. Namsan

What are your favourite places to hike in Korea? Let me know!

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Korea is a paradise for active travellers. Hiking is a national pastime and there are trails for all abilities all over the country. Its natural beauty is just begging to be explored and with it being the same size as England, it's pretty easy to do! Here are eight Korea hiking trails you have to do on your next visit.

26 thoughts on “8 South Korea Hiking Trails You Don’t Want To Miss

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Glad you got to experience some of these and your blog definitely helped with deciding where I wanted to go!

  1. Urska (Sliva) says:

    Wow, didn’t know South Korea is such a hiking paradise. Would love to visit Sobaeksan National Park and climb on top of the Mt. Geumjeongsan. Will certainly pin this for later! Relly like your photos.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thank you! Yeah, Koreans are obsessed with hiking and there are so many amazing places to do it! Definitely recommend a visit!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Yeah I definitely see that! I would LOVE to do Stairway to Heaven – it would be incredible! These hikes were pretty awesome too though!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      I am convincing a lot of people right now – just shows how amazing a country it is! I am sure you can tempt him!

  2. Kate and Kris says:

    It’s amazing how many great hikes there are in Korea. Somehow it’s not somewhere you immediately think of for hiking, but lots of people we know who’ve lived there love that about it.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      This is another reason why I am considering living there for a while so I can explore it properly. I agree and I didn’t realise how much there is to see and do there!

  3. Angie (FeetDoTravel) says:

    I didn’t know South Korea was the size of England! These hiking trails look magnificent, the views are breathtaking, seriously. I think for me, I would head for Jirisan National Park as it’s the most spiritual and plays a conservational role, plus the Asian Brown Bear is there and I have never been anywhere where there are bears in the area! You have really opened my eyes with these treks, thank you. I have pinned for when I visit. Looking forward to your next post in this series … at least I’m hoping there will be another! #feetdotravel

    • Travel Lexx says:

      I really recommend for you guys to head to Korea if you have an opportunity – especially as you are currently in the area! It’s such a beautiful country! I would have loved to have seen a bear myself!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks guys – what I found fascinating about Korea is how easy it is to transition from an urban cityscape to a national park or a lush forest. You never have to travel too far and as a result you can combine a lot of activities!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks, James! Korea definitely surprised with its beauty! I love how you can do hikes and active stuff right in the heart of Seoul! It’s a great city!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      That’s going straight to my list! My aim is to visit all the national parks in South Korea and climb to every peak! I think it’s doable! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Travel4lifeblog says:

    Thanks for sharing a great article with us! We want to go to Seoul now and do those 8 hikes 🙂 Your pictures are wonderful by the way and they made us want to visit Seoul one day! Keep up the good work 🙂 Patrick and Cécile

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Only one of these is in Seoul but the country is pretty easy to get around so you are never too far away from some awesome hikes!

  5. tracy collins says:

    My daughter is heading off to South Korea next month – she is there a week before travelling to HK and on to Thailand etc. I have shared with her so hopefully she can get to do some of them! I will let you know 🙂

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Tracy, that’s great! She will have a great time – happy to help with an itinerary if she needs some tips!

  6. Garth says:

    Wow you certainly covered some ground! I’m exhausted just reading this. South Korea is so intriguing, it looks wonderful from your pictures, the countryside, the temples and those epic views you’ve captured. Really hope me and Phil get to visit this fascinating country one day, it’s now on our bucket list!
    Garth recently posted…AngkorMy Profile

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Garth, I think you guys would find plenty to do even if you didn’t do a single hike. But the good thing is there are so many trails for different abilities and fitness levels, that it would be rude not to!

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