Thursday 18 April, 2019
Day 11 / Seoraksan
[Missed day 10? Read the previous post here]
Today we take a rest day from the bikes and spend the day exploring Seoraksan National Park. You can catch a quick bus down the road but we like walking and opt for the 20 minute stroll from our accommodation.
We have a chat to The Red House owner and look at the map. He tells us there are three different peaks we can visit: Ulsanbawi Rock, Yukdam Waterfall and Geumgang Cave. He tells us it will take between 3-5 hours to visit each one so we can probably visit one or two at most.
The day is a bit chilly but fresh and after a quick breakfast in the dining room we make our way down the road to the national park.
Upon entering the grounds, we see a few cafes and shops.
There are already a few groups of tourists getting an early start but being the off season it’s not that crowded.
There’s a giant Buddha as well as a place where you can purchase and write a message on a tile.
We decide to tackle Ulsanbawi Rock first as we hear it’s the nicest.
It’s 888 steps to the top and along the way we pass Heudeulbawi, a giant rock set on top of a platform that people attempt to move by pushing it.
There’s a lot of walking and climbing and we see some cherry blossoms along the way.
We pass quite a few tourists taking their Insta-selfies as well as locals who are out for a hike. We can imagine how busy this place would get during the Autumn or Spring.
The hiking fashion in South Korea is next level and we’re always amused with what we see out on the trails.
The one thing we are impressed with is the number of older Korean people going for a hike. We passed this lady who could’ve been my grandma – and she had a pretty good pace going too!
Every direction you turn has another beautiful shot waiting to be taken but the photos don’t do it justice.
There are so many stairs to climb and they get steeper the higher we go.
It also gets colder and windier the higher you go.
Some 888 steps later we make it to the top and the view is amazing!
It’s really windy at the top so Cheye and I are hanging on for dear life as we step out closer to the edge.
After spending some time and taking in the view we make our way back down to ground level, a round trip taking us about three hours.
We toss up whether to visit the waterfalls or the cave as it looks like we can only fit in one more peak based on the guest house owners estimate. We decide to make our way to the waterfalls.
There are three waterfalls to see on this trail – Yukdam, Biryeong and Towangseong. We climb lots of stairs and eventually make it to a bridge crossing for the first waterfall, Yukdam.
We continue on to see Biryeong Waterfall, which we can see up close.
The place isn’t too busy today since it’s the off season so we have plenty of opportunity to take in the surroundings without the massive crowds.
The final waterfall is Towangseong Falls and to view it we need to climb 900 steps. I count the steps as we ascend and doesn’t take too long to reach 900. From the top we have a viewing platform to see the waterfall in the distance.
It’s quite far up and amazing to see how far down it drops.
We climb the 900 steps back down to the main starting ground and realise it has only taken us 90 minutes to complete the round trip. We decide we have time to complete the third peak and follow the signs towards the cave.
We head to our final trail and pass by Biseondae Rocks.
Some of the rocks have carvings in them.
Along the way we have a chat to a Korean man who can speak some good English. We always like speaking to the locals when we travel.
We start climbing steps towards Geumgang Cave and as we get closer the steps get steeper. And then even steeper. At some point it gets so steep that we question whether we want to keep going. Instead we just decide to avoid looking down.
We finally make it to the top and come to a small cave overlooking the trees below.
The view is amazing.
Cheye is deathly afraid of heights so he doesn’t enjoy the experience at all.
I’m fascinated with the surroundings but at the same time it’s so windy at the top that it’s also a little unnerving being so high up.
Inside the cave is a tiny prayer room.
The only thing scarier than climbing all those steps up is having to climb down.
We make our way back down to the start and all up it takes about two hours for the round trip.
I’m surprised we managed to make all three peaks in less than day. However after finding this map below I realise that we have only covered a small part of the national park trails, something that people spend days exploring, but I think we’ve done alright having hiked for about 7 hours today.
We make our way back to the guesthouse and based on the small number of businesses open the previous day we decide to go back to the same place for dinner as last night.
Tomorrow we are heading back to Seoul – we did have plans for a rest day but being the crazy bike loving people that we are, we have plans to stamp another cycle route off our passport books and prepare for a super early start.
In summary we covered the following three peaks:
Rocks – 3 hours for a round trip
– Ulsanbawi (rock) 888 steps
– Heudeulbawi (rock that you push)
Waterfalls – 1.5 hours for a round trip
– Yukdam Waterfall
– Biryeong Waterfall
– Towangseong Falls
Caves – 2 hours for a round trip
– Geumgang Cave
– Biseondae Rock
This also finishes up the East Coast leg of our trip! One more day of cycling to go 🙂