Nearly a month ago, on March 31st, I headed to Songnisan National Park with Seoul Hiking Group. Songnisan had been at the top of my mountain bucket list since last fall, when my beau and I had a travel mishap and couldn’t locate our bus that was scheduled to take us to our destination.
This was one of the most physically challenging hikes I have experienced. The terrain was not particularly challenging, but I had an absolutely horrendous hike. I’m not sure what caused my muscles to feel like black liquid was oozing out of them with ever step I took, but for the duration of this hike, I seriously struggled. I was thankful for wonderful, supportive companions that were patient with me (when they would have been better off gently nudging me off of the edge).
Despite not being physically up to par, Songnisan did not disappoint. We began our hike in the Janggakgol Valley, welcomed by an emerald waterfall. From here, we followed a series of rural backroads flanked by fields until we reached the unassuming trail head. To be honest, independent of an organized hike, I’m not certain how accessible this route would be by public transportation. We ascended (struggled) to Birobong, the second highest peak in the park and then continued across the mountain to the highest peak, Munjangdae. A single rock perched at 1,033 meters, Munjandae offers impressive (and gratifying) views in every direction.
After briefly basking in our success, we descended to Beopjusa, the temple that houses the stunning gold Buddha. If possible, I would highly recommend this hiking course. Finishing at Beopjusa was a fantastic reward at the end of a 6-hour hike. The quality of light as the sun was setting also added to the incredible ambience and allure of the temple.
Songnisan National Park is a must-do for anyone who loves to hike in Korea.
For another take on Songnisan National Park, check out Tigers and Magpies guide to the park. This map from The South Korean Travel Guide is also extremely helpful (and in English!).