Seoul has some amazing hiking trails all around the city, including at Namsan Park and along the Cheonggyecheon Stream. However, in the urban part of the city, nothing can come close to the adventure you will find at Bukhansan National Park.
Arguably the finest of South Korea’s 21 national parks, Bukhansan contains forested areas, temples, and granite peaks. The three main peaks are Baekundae (2,744 ft), Insubong (2,659 ft), and Mangnyeongdae (2,623 ft). Due to its popularity with hikers and Seoul residents, some trails are closed on a rotation basis to protect the local environment.
Bukhansan National Park is the only national park in the Seoul metropolitan area and is also known as Samgaksan (Triangle Mountain) because of its three peaks: Baegunbong, Insubong and Mangyeongbong. The park’s many granite peaks and gorges are punctuated by crystal clear streams, creating a perfect harmony between the mountains and water. Rich in biodiversity, Bukhansan is home to more than 1,300 species of plants and animals and boasts a wealth of historical and cultural heritage sites as well as over 100 Buddhist temples and hermitages.
With its many ridges and valleys, Bukhansan National Park is very popular with hikers, offering trails suited to every level of experience, from gentle slopes to steep rugged tracks while the ever-changing scenery each season makes every visit unique.
The best hiking trails at Bukhansan:
1. Starting from Bukhansanseong (Fortress) ticket office, Baegundae (Peak) trail is not too rough and includes the widest valley in Bukhansan. A round-trip hike takes around three hours.
2. Hyeongjebong trail is popular with families and will interest naturalists and historians alike. Hike through the gorges with their clear streams, and enjoy spotting native flowers and wild animals along the way.
3. Bibong trail is narrow with a tiny stream on either side and is ideal for those hiking alone. On the way to Bibong (Peak), you will come across King Jinheung’s Monument commemorating the Silla’s territorial expansion erected by King Jinheung (540-576), 24th monarch of the Silla Kingdom.
The Bukhansanseong Fortress is located in the park, together with its long defensive wall. A fortress was first built on this site in 132 AD to protect Seoul from foreign invasions. It provides another great opportunity to explore. However, the ultimate satisfaction of hiking Bukhansan is to get near the top (or the VERY TOP) and look down at the miniature version of Seoul below you! It really is a great sight, and probably more rewarding than scaling Seoraksan, as the views are more spectacular!