Okay, full disclosure I didn’t actually hike Seoraksan (or Mt. Seorak) in Gangwondo. I was on a field trip with my education office, and we naturally took the cable car up to the top instead. Facebook memories reminded me about our trip, and I realized I hadn’t written anything about it! To be honest, the trip is a blur.
We left early Saturday morning and came back late Sunday night. Most of our trip was spent on a bus (it was a seven-hour ride there and back), and we were freezing most of the time even though it wasn’t even technically winter in Korea yet.
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However, should you choose to go, definitely give yourself longer than 48 hours to enjoy the area. I’m going to break down our trip to give you a better idea of what to do and how starting with checking out one of Korea’s three important mountains (with Hallasan and Jirisan): Seoraksan!
Seoraksan is a National Park and actually part of the Taebaek Mountain range, which extends all along the east coast of the peninsula. It’s nearly 400 square kilometers and covers Sokcho, Inje, Goseong, and Yangyang.
There are many trails you can take, ranging from 1-3 days. However, you can do the cable car in an afternoon. Our wait time in late November was an hour, and it can rise up to two-three hours or more during peak season.
Around the entrance in Sogongwon Park, you can check out Shinheung Temple (신흥사) and its 10km tall bronze Buddha statue. You can also take a walk by the ravine and see the cable cars and peaks from afar.
Once you head up in the cable car, hike a little farther to see Gwongeumseong Fortress (권금성), a site of castle ruins. The cable car is actually the only way to see this area as the path alone is too steep and rocky. It was definitely an experience climbing all the rocks to see the other side as it felt like one wrong move and you’d fall and slide to your death… But hey, kids were running up it pretty confidently, so there’s that.
From Gwongeumseong, you can see the outer Seorak area (외설악) from above. This is also the perfect place to see the sunset.
For more on Seoraksan
There are many different places you can start your hike depending on the trail, but the most common/popular starting point is in Sogongwon where the cable cars are.
Take a bus to Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal. From there take Bus #7 or 7-1 and get off at the Seorakdong Sogongwon Bus Stop (설악동 소공원).
Admission to Sogonwon is 3,500 KRW (~$3.00). Cable Car cost is 10,000 KRW (~$10)