In the northern reaches of Seoul, Bukhansan National Park - 북한산국립공원- spreads its rocky wings over 78.45 km and 6 districts of Seoul. I spent a day hiking to the highest peak Baegundae -백운대, which at 837m gives you the most spectacular view of Seoul below.
Bukhansan “The big mountain” or “the green lung of Seoul” (as it is affectionately called) is easily accessible by public transportation, making it an ideal place to escape the hectic life of Seoul for a day and get a good hike on! As a self diagnosed hiking-holic I can’t get enough of Seoul’s mountains, but Bukhansan being so close to my house in northern Seoul, is definitely my favourite.
There are many different ways to get to the hundreds of trails covering Bukhansan, but for the eastern area and to hike up to Baegundae you can go to Suyu Station (수유역, #414), line 4, exit 3) and take the local 120 bus.
The bus will drop you off at Uidong, where you can follow the rainbow of brightly coloured Korean hikers up to the trail-head. From the trail head to Baegundae and back down it’s about a 4-hour hike (or 5 hours if you are lugging up your camera equipment!) The trail to the peak is varied and starts out in the leafy forest eventually leading to steep rocky cliffs and then a sweaty climb and a steep ascend to the peak!
At the peak, you can relax on the giant slabs of granite, take a break and eat your lunch – hopefully you brought some, and if not, well do as I do and give puppy dog eyes to the other hikers with bags stuffed full with goodies! Make sure you have a drink of magkeolli – Korean rice wine and THE favored beverage of Korean hikers, and don’t do as I do and drink more than a cup or you might take a few tumbles on the way down.
Take a moment to enjoy the views of Seoul spreading far and wide below. And don’t forgot to take lots of photos! During the fall, these views are amazing as the sky is clear and there is a stark contrast between the city and the mountain, which is covered in vibrant red Japanese maples.
Congratulate yourself, you hiked to the highest peak, the zenith of Seoul! Now as you prepare for your descent, you can wonder why anyone would ever think of putting a cable car on top of a mountain!