I love hiking and Korea’s love of hiking was one of the main reasons I chose to come here over other countries. Trails are very easy to get to, public transportation is fast and affordable, and the people are very friendly.
Gwanaksan first came to my attention while I was looking at Google Maps and it caught my eye because of how close it is to Suwon. This of course prompted me to look for more information about how to get there and the Korea travel site pulled through for me.
Other than being close by, Gwanaksan caught my interest because of the sweeping view of Seoul you’ll be treated to at the summit. Plus, you can visit a Buddhist temple and Yeonjudae which you can see in the photo above.
Distance: about 4km
Elevation: 2.063 feet (629 meters)
Trailhead: Metro line #4 to Gwacheon Station. Then walk (directions at the bottom)
The summit of Gwanaksan is on the left of this panorama, past the radar tower. With the humidity dropping the air was nice and clear that day.
Just before the trailhead is a cluster of small buildings with restaurants. There’s also this small house with chickens and a gob of Korean flags. Don’t they look cool?
Hiking Gwanaksan (관악산)
Time for another beautiful hike in Korea – north to Seoul to hike Gwanaksan (관악산).
This 629m mountain rises on the south side of Seoul. Despite being small mountains, it’s always a little surprising how steep and tiring the hikes are. Prepare to scramble up rocks and climb tons of stairs (as with all Korean hikes apparently).
From the summit you’ll be treated to views of Seoul. Seeing it laid out is impressive. It really drives home just how big Seoul really is.
The trail itself is pretty rocky and rugged, which I really enjoy, and it winds along a stream until you hit the ridge line. Keep an eye on the ground because it would be really easy to twist an ankle.
One of the nice things about the trail I took were the restrooms along the way. If nature calls, you don’t have to suffer long until you reach the next pit stop. Just remember to be prepared…
One of the highlights of hiking Gwanaksan is the Buddhist temple. I like the level of detail displayed – the number of statues, the carved wood, etc. They’re very beautiful buildings and quite different from the Buddhist temples I’ve seen back home in the US.
These are statues that look over a huge granite box which was filled with tall candles. There was also a bowl for you to leave lit incense. It smelled so nice!
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How to Get There
- Take subway line #4 to Gwacheon Station.
- When you arrive at the station, head for Exit #2.
- If you take the elevator up, take a right on the sidewalk when you exit. If you take the escalator up, just walk straight.
- You’ll be able to see the mountain rising above the tree tops across the street.
- Continue on the sidewalk until you see a big sign that says Library Junction. Cross the street here.
- When you cross the street, turn RIGHT and continue walking.
- Soon, you will see a big brown sign that points LEFT toward Gwanaksan which is 1km away (the sign also mentions other destinations).
- Follow that road until you reach an intersection with a sign pointing RIGHT for Gwanaksan, cross the street and continue walking (there’s a convenience store on the corner).
- Continue walking (passing a school on your right) until you reach a T-intersection with big mirrors for cars to see around the corner.
- You’ll see another brown sign pointing LEFT for Gwanaksan.
- Continue walking. You’ll pass a parking lot on your right but that trail is for a small summit but .
- Soon, you’ll see the inevitable gaggle of hikers along with a small food stand and a bathroom on your right. (Western toilets w/ toilet paper.)
- There’s a stream coming off the mountain with a bunch of tents on the left bank. Cross the bridge and continue up the small road past the food vendors.
- Then you’re at the trailhead.
Jangseung (장승) on Gwanaksan