Naejangsan National Park | 내장산국립공원
Decided to take advantage of the extended Chuseok Holiday and beautiful weather by heading down to Naejangsan National Park. I’ve been hearing a great deal about how incredible it is, particularly during the fall. Despite there not being much in the way of colourful foliage (best time to visit is the first week of November), Naejangsan is nonetheless a beautiful place to visit any time of year.
Be forewarned: it’s by no means an easy hike. The walk alone from the where the bus drops you off (along a nice little street lined with traditional Korean restaurants) is between 2-3kms. From the entrance of Naejangsan National Park, it’s another half a kilometer or so to Naejangsa Temple. From there you can grab the Seoraebong Course (5.9km, three hours) that runs along Byeongnyeonam all the way up to the summit of Seoraebong (624m), the first of eight peaks that circle the park’s colourful grounds below.
That being said, it’s damn well worth it. If you get over your screaming calf muscles and the throbbing in your temples, what awaits you above (and even along the way for that matter!) is incredible. The sign at the summit of Seoraebong claims the valley below resembles that a “flowing traditional Korean dress” by the way the hillsides seem to drape and flow to the ground below. I can only imagine what this place must look like when the colours are out in full force. I’ll be returning for that.
From Soeraebong, the course continues on to Bulchubong (622m), then starts descending through Wonjeogam, a smaller temple said to have been built during the 3rd year of King Seonjong of the Goryeo Period (AD 1086). The quiet grounds are home to a huge ivory Buddhist statue, which at the time, was being stripped on its golden exterior by a monk.
The trails, or lack thereof, throughout the course can be pretty challenging. It seemed never-ending in some parts. But it’s one of those situations where, once you’ve already started, there’s pretty much no turning back. Somewhat daunting, but the realization sharpens your focus and puts a little momentum in your step.
I’ve hiked a lot of mountains in Korea, but views such as this are pretty rare. Naejangsan really is amazing.
Getting there: There are two ways to get to Naejangsan: by bus from Express Bus Terminal (subway Line 3) or by KTX (KRW 32,100) from Yongsan Station (subway Line 5). I took the train so I’m not sure what the current fare for the bus is. I imagine it to be somewhere around KRW 15,000 to 25,000. Anyhow, both the bus and train drop you off in Jeong-eup so it’s really just a question of how fast you want to get there. The KTX takes just over two hours.
From Jeong-eup Station, walk straight out the entrance, cross the street and head straight, past the CU Mart on the corner, and take bus number 171 (20mins).