This rocky beast has stolen my heart.
As a loyalist to my old backyard, Bukhansan National Park, it feels like a betrayal to even think about giving my heart to another mountain in Seoul. Sitting pretty at 632 meters, Yeonjudae,
the summit of Gwanakansan, falls a full 200 meters short of Baegundae, the majestic peak of Bukhansan. Despite is relatively miniature height, Gwanaksan offers up an abundance of dramatic climbing and unbeatable views. The mountain is teeming with enough requisite Korean stereotypes to entertain even the most uninterested outdoor un-enthusiast: couples hiking outfits, photos taken in the most absurd of poses and, of course, the groups of older men wilding out on the mountain with half a dozen soju bottles.
While the route from Seoul National University is a short 2-kilometers to the peak up a few flights of stairs, it offers none of the excitement or unbeatable views you experience on your journey from an alternative starting point, Sadang Station. The route ascending from Sadang Station takes you on a hike that requires only a brief initial, steep ascent before transforming into pseudo rock-climbing. After monkeying-up to a handful of burly, boulder-ridden peaks, you’re well on your way to following the ridge-line to Yeonjudae.
From Sadang Station Exit 4, walk straight to the end of the first block and make a right (you will see a small hiking shop on the corner). If you follow this residential road, you can’t miss the trails. There are several different small trails that begin here. Each time I’ve take a different trail and they’ve all ascended to the same rocky, ridge-like trail that leads to the peak. After Yeonjudae, you can follow the trail to the right along another rocky ridge for about 10 minutes before taking a sharp right and descending directly to Seoul National University. Alternatively, there is a lower trail with stairs to reach the Seoul National University turn-off. The descent is a straight-forward, fast 2-kilometers to the bottom.
If you’re looking for an accessible, entertaining outdoor adventure that even the faintest of heart will enjoy, Gwanaksan is the way to go.
Up next: Jeju Island
As always, thank you for taking time out of your busy life to take a glimpse into mine.