Gwanggyosan (광교산) is the largest mountain in Suwon, South Korea. Rising along the north side of the city, Gwanggyosan is also known as the jinsan or Guardian Mountain. It protects Suwon from cold winter winds from the north and also serves as a natural defense in times of conflict.
I hopped on bus #13 near my house and rode it to the Gwanggyo Reservoir where the bus stops in front of a public restroom. This is also where I photographed the janseung shown at the bottom of the page. The reservoir is also a park where many young children and families relax and play. From here I hiked a little over 6 km to the summit of Gwanggyosan at 582 meters (1,909 feet).
Hiking in Korea
Don’t forget to check out my hike up Chilbosan.
It was a fairly busy day on the mountain. Along many sections people were sitting and talking, enjoying quiet time, or sipping either soju or makgeolli (rice wine). I don’t know how they do it but the vast majority of Koreans were wearing pants.
I set off from the park that sits along the reservoir and headed up the first of many staircases.
Just before you reach the first summit at 448 meters (1,469 feet), you get to climb up this rock which has two ropes for safety. Grab a rope and climb up or scramble.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what this peak is called. If you can read the sign please let me know.
Along the way, the roaring buzz of cicadas rose and fell with the trail. As with Chilbosan, I was surprised at the lack of wildlife.
Some sections had long, braided rope rugs on the trail that were pinned in place with big metal spikes. While other sections, like the one below, were left wild.
From the first peak, the summit of Gwanggyosan was only about 2 km away. But you have to work for it. There’s a steep descent and yet another steep ascent before reaching the summit stone.
Success! It took me an hour and forty-five minutes to reach the summit.
From the summit, I went down a different trail down since it was getting late. The trail turned out to be 80% stairs and very steep. The trail was 2 km to the base of the mountain. It comes out by a stream and a bunch of gardens. The stream has several bridges which lead to other trails.
On your way down to the bus stop, you’ll come across this big pond with enormous goldfish.
How To Get There
From AK Plaza / Suwon Station, take bus #13 and get off either at the reservoir (the bus stop is in front of a public restroom, which is where I started) or continue on to the turnaround where bus #13 stops. From the turnaround, the trail (with tons of stairs) is about 2.2 km to the summit of Gwanggyosan.
These Korean totem poles are called jangseung (장승). They’ve traditionally been used to mark the boundaries of villages. They are also something like guardians, protecting villages from demons by scaring them away. These two jangseung are across from the reservoir, near the public restroom where I started my hike.
Have you gone hiking in South Korea? Tell us about it in the comments below.