Hiking Bukhansan – An Epic Guide
Hiking Bukhansan National Park is one of the best ways to escape the hustle and bustle city while enjoying adventurous nature activities.
Bukhansan National Park is an urban sanctuary for hikers, as it offers various fantastic hiking trails, mountaintop views and beautiful streams that rush between the gorge and graphite peaks.
Thus, WWB writer, Najlaa, has prepared an epic guide for you so that you can explore the magnificent landscape of the Bukhansan Mountain hike.
Here is what I will cover in this article:
- Hiking Bukhansan National Park – What is it?
- Why Bukhansan Hiking?
- List Of Best Bukhansan National Park Hiking Trails
- How To Get To Bukhansan Hiking Trails?
- Hiking Bukhansan – How long does it take to hike?
- The Best Time To Do Bukhansan Hike
- Hiking Bukhansan – Packing Lists
- Bukhansan Hiking Tips
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Hiking Bukhansan National Park – What Is It?
Bukhansan National Park is an outdoor playground situated in the northern part of Seoul.
The word Bukhansan means Mountains to the North of Han, where Han is the main river that cuts through Seoul.
Located closest to Seoul, which is only a subway ride away, makes it understandably famous as a gateway into nature for hikers, climbers, and outdoor fans.
According to the Korean National Park Service, the park is listed in the Guinness Book of World Record as the Most Visited National Park Per Unit Area, with around 5 million people visiting the park annually.
Yes, Bukhansan is rather popular as Koreans love hiking.
So, if you are planning for a hike to Bukhansan trails, I suggest you go during the weekdays and early in the morning to avoid crowds.
The park is also known as Samgaksan (Triangle Mountain) due to its three highest peaks from the highest Baegundae (836m), followed by Insubong (810m) and Mangyeongdae ( 787m).
Out of the three summits, the Baegundae is the most popular among hikers. The reason is that the peak signifies the highest point of the entire Seoul.
Each of the peaks is possible to reach through various hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulties and lengths, thus, allows you to plan and prepare your trip that suits your capability.
Why Try Bukhansan Hiking?
Whether you are an avid hiker or not, hiking the Bukhansan Mountain is a must-have itinerary to add to your Korean Bucket List. And here are some of the many reasons why you should go for Bukhansan hiking:
Hiking Bukhansan Mountain is a fantastic way to experience nature within the Seoul Metropolitan area. Due to its location within the city area, Bukhansan trails are easily accessible from anywhere within the city by car or public transport.
On that account, it provides flexibility for anyone who wants to plan for a day or half-day trip to the Bukhansan Hiking Park trails.
Stunning Mountain Top Views
Does it feel satisfying to reach the top of the mountain, eating sandwiches while looking at the stunning view of the city that sprawls out beneath you?
Well, the Bukhansan hike displays a fantastic birds-eye view of the sprawling metropolis for you to treasure as you reach the highest point of Bukhansan Mountain.
As you stand at the top, watching the whole magnificent view, it feels like you own the world. Must feel amazing, right? So, do get up there and see it for yourself!
Variety Of Trails With Scenic Views
Depending on what sort of activities you would like to do, Bukhansan is rich with various Bukhansan trails from hiking trails, walking trails, climbing trails and more. All of these trails offer a significant picturesque view of nature with fresh mountain air.
Other than that, each trail has its challenge, thus, makes your trip more exciting and valuable.
A Plethora Of Biodiversity And Many Historical Sites
When you start hiking the Bukhansan course, you will find more than 1,300 species of plants and animals living within the national park.
The park is also rich with dozens of gorges and granite peaks with clear streams flowing in between, creating a wonderful harmonious ambience.
Along with its prosperity in biodiversity, Bukhansan is also the home of many historical and cultural sites. For example, the Bukhansanseong Fortress, with over 2,000 years of history plus over 100 Buddhist temples and monk’s cells.
In short, the Bukhansan mountain hike is not only good for hiking, but also for learning about ecology, culture and history.
Meeting Friendly Local Korean Hikers
Koreans love to spend their time hiking as Seoul is always bustling and loud. This is the reason why Bukhansan hiking trails are constantly full of local people hiking the mountain.
Korean hikes are open and friendly to other hikers as they love to talk to new Bukhansan hikers and foreign hikers.
If you ever get confused with the route or get lost, do not worry! These people will try to help you despite the language barrier.
Best Bukhansan National Park Hiking Trails
Hiking Bukhansan offers you plenty of adventurous trails.
From the Bukhansan hiking map, there is lots of information you can get regarding the trails that suit your capability. The map is obtainable from the information centre located at Bukhansan National Park entrance.
Here are some of the great trails that you should give a try, whenever you visit Bukhansan National Park hiking trails:
Hiking Bukhansan – Easy to Moderate
The most popular trail in the Jeongneung district extends from Jeongneung to Bogukmun. It is a short trail that passes through the beautiful Jeongneung gorge and Salhanigyo bridge.
If you are new to hiking and looking for a Bukhansan easy trail with stunning nature, then this trail is just for you.
The trail begins with easy steps and will gradually become steeper as you continue moving up. Yet, it is still manageable even though you are a beginner.
Although usually, the trail will take about 1 hour and 20 mins to reach the top. But for some who are not used to it, it might take a little longer.
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
Duration: 1 hour 20 minute (one way)
Distance: 2.4km (one way)
The Uiam trail is one of the easiest trails great for beginner hikers, the elderly, and families.
Rich with outstanding scenery of light pink azaleas and royal azaleas growing along the trail, the journey on this trail becomes quite delightful to your eyes.
During the fall season, the trail changes into a lovely orange autumn landscape, thus, creating an excellent spot for photography.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes (one way)
Distance: 2.5km (one way)
This trail is split into two routes and is doable either clockwise (towards Songchu Waterfall) or counter-clockwise (towards Yeoseongbong Peak) directions. However, the latter provides a steeper path with a short duration.
The best way to complete the loop is by hiking up with the steeper path and travel down using the other easier path.
The highlights of this trail are Yeoseongbbong Peak and Obong Peak, two peaks that present fantastic views that make you feel you are at the top of the world.
You will also meet Songchu Waterfall along the trail, where you can have a short break there and have a little picnic while admiring the waterfall.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Duration: 2 hours 10 minutes (one loop)
Distance: 6.5km (one loop)
If you are looking for leisurely trails, then the Bukhansan Dulle-Gil is the right trail for you.
Dulle-Gil is a 63.2km walking trail that stretches across the foot of Bukhansan Mountain. This trail has several sections, where each covers a distance between 1.5km to 7km and is considered the easiest, most accessible and family-friendly Bukhansan trail.
The trail is wide and well maintained, with most of it being a paved route which makes it great for jogging or a casual outing with family and friends.
Each of the sections provides various scenes to its visitor, from city view, forest scenery to the field view of tall grass. There are also a few rest areas at each section, where you can take a break and have a picnic.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: Between 70 minutes and 210 minutes depends on the section
Distance: Between 1.5km and 7km depends on the section
Hiking Bukhansan – Intermediate
This trail leads to the highest part of Bukhansan Mountain named Baegundae Peak and is considered one of the most popular hiking trails.
It is the most relaxed and scenic route that takes you to the summit.
If you love to dive deep into nature and you are not in a rush, then this route is just perfect for you. Still, do prepare for a strenuous hike since the hike can be pretty intense towards the top.
The hike at the beginning is easy.
However, as you advance near the summit, it gradually gets steeper. With rocky terrain towards the final part, the hike becomes quite rough, which requires you to use railings and chains to reach the top.
If this is your first time on this trail, you might feel like surrendering halfway, because you can’t seem to see the end of the path. It feels as if the journey has no stop.
But, I suggest you not give up and keep moving up because the outstanding scenery at the peak is so precious for you not to see it.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Duration: 2 hours 40 minute (one way)
Distance: 4.2km (one way)
The fastest way to reach Baegundae Peak is to hike from Baegundae Hiking Support Centre near Ui Ranger Post through the Baegundae trail. This trail, on average, will take you about 2 hours to reach the top.
However, even though it is the fastest route, it is also quite challenging.
The main obstacle along the trail is the rocks and the inclination; hence the journey feels like you are never standing on flat ground, so it is hard on the knees and ankles.
But, with the beauty of nature surrounding it and the magnificent view that awaits at the top, this trail is so worth it for you to take up the challenge.
Another option is you can hike to the peak from the Bukhansanseong trail and take this trail to descend back to Seoul or the opposite.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Duration: 2 hours (one way)
Distance: 1.9km(one way)
Starting with a narrow trail, you will find the course is a mix of stones and stairs. At some point, you arrive at a part where it starts to get tricky and steep, hence, requires you to use your hands for a better grip.
In the final stretch, before you reach Bibong peak, the trail will be trickier as there are smooth and slippery rocks where it can be pretty dangerous if you are not careful. Therefore, go easy and take your time when you are hiking in that area.
En route to Bibong peak, you will come across a historical site, King Jinheung’s Monument. A monument from the time during an ancient kingdom called Silla once prospered in the Southern Korean Peninsula 1,300 years ago.
After Bibong peak, continue hiking into a mild ridge for 20 minutes, and you will reach Samobawi Rock. Being at the top of Samobawi Rock, you will have the opportunity to witness a splendid view of Munsubong, Bohyunbong and Nahyunbong peaks.
The trail ends as you reach Gugi Ranger Station.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Duration: ~4 hours ( one way)
Distance: 9.65km( one way)
Hiking Bukhansan – Advance to Expert
When you hike this trail, you will start with light ascending along a beautiful river, which later will progressively turn into a steep incline. Still, throughout the journey, you will be compensated with the sight of the peaks, where at one point they look like a real-life painting.
Midway through the trail, take a brief detour to Cheonchuksa Temple, the oldest temple in Dobongsan Mountain. There, you will find over 100 stone statues standing facing the city of Seoul.
Difficulty Level: Advanced
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes (one way)
Distance: 3.2km (one way)
This trail is an expert course that begins from Bukhansanseong Park Information Centre, passes through several peaks and ends at Gugi Information Centre.
Like other trails, this trail starts lightly with a beautiful path into the woods. As you continue, it becomes more challenging, and there are sections where you have to use chains, ropes, and handrails to pull yourself up the ridge.
Here is where hiking in Bukhansan turns tough and challenges your limits!
If you manage to conquer your fears and limitations, you will be rewarded with an amazing aerial view of Seoul when you reach the peaks of this course.
Difficulty Level: Expert
Duration: 5 hours (one way)
Distance: 6.7 KM (one way)
How To Get To Bukhansan Hiking Trails?
The Bukhansan Hiking trails can be accessed anywhere from Seoul, there are many options to reach the Bukhansan National Park entrances.
Some of the options are:
This entrance leads to the famous Baegundae peak. To reach this entrance, from Seoul Station, you need to get to Gupabal station first.
And based on the Seoul Subway map, the station can be reached by taking Seoul Subway Line 3. Next, at the Gupabal station, go to exit 1 or 2 and take any of these local buses no 34, 704 or 702 to Bukhansanseong Fortress stop.
At the Bukhansanseong Fortress stop, follow the Bukhansan National Park sign to the entrance, where you will pass several restaurants and hiking stores.
To get to the Jeongneung Park Information Centre from Seoul Station, take a ride on Seoul Subway Line 4 to Gireum station.
When you arrive at the station, proceed to exit 3. Then, catch bus 110B or 143 to the last bus stop. At the bus stop, walk for 3 minutes to reach the entrance of the national park.
For the Dobongsan entry, take Seoul Subway Line 1 and get off at Dobongsan station from Seoul Station. Then, from Dobongsan station, walk for 15 minutes to arrive at the entrance.
Another option is to get off at Mangwolsa Station and walk 10 minutes to the entrance.
To arrive at the Bibong entry point, you may either take Seoul Subway Line 3 or 6 to Bulgwang station.
After that, from exit 2, walk across the street to Bulgwang station bus stop and take bus no. 7212 to The Committee For Five Northern Korean Province stop. Once you arrive at the bus stop, walk straight along the street for 10 minutes to reach Bibong Information Centre.
Ui Ranger Station can be reached by taking Seoul Subway Line 4 to Sungshin Women University station from Seoul Station. At Sungshin Women University station transfer to Ui-Sinseol LRT to Bukhansan UI station.
Then, from there, walk for 9 minutes to arrive at Ui Ranger Station.
From Seoul Station, take Seoul Subway Line 3 or 6 to Bulgwang station.
At Bulgwang station, proceed to exit 2 to catch bus no. 7212 to The Committee For Five Northern Korean Province stop.
At the bus stop, proceed to a junction and turn left. From there, walk for 11 minutes to Gugi Ranger Station.
Hiking Bukhansan – How Long Does It Take To Hike?
Depending on the trail you choose, the duration of completing one complete course varies.
The Baegundae peak trails usually take around 4 to 5 hours to complete the entire hike. Meanwhile, other Bukhansan routes could take more or less time, depending on their length and difficulty.
However, most hikers normally will spend their time for a day at Bukhansan. The reason is that there are many mysteries and beauty of nature to be discovered on the mountain.
It will be a waste if you do not take this opportunity to appreciate, relax and clear your mind in the calmness of nature.
So, do not rush! Take your time and enjoy being one with nature.
The Best Time To Do A Bukhansan Hike
Bukhansan Hiking can be carried out anytime throughout the year.
Ideally, the best time to hike Bukhansan trails is during the spring and fall seasons due to the temperature being at the most comfortable level, plus the landscapes at their prettiest.
With cherry blossoms blooming in spring and leaves turning orange and red in fall, it makes the hike more magical!
During summer, the weather can be so hot and humid.
Thus, the hike can be somewhat intense and exhausting due to the heat. If you plan to hike during this time, please ensure you take plenty of water with you to avoid dehydration.
In winter, the temperature can reach below zero, and the path also can get pretty icy and slippery. Even so, you are still able to hike the mountain during winter as long as you bring along proper winter attire and hiking equipment with you.
Well, safety is the priority to ensure that you have a safe trip throughout your hiking Bukhansan experience.
Hiking Bukhansan – Packing List
- Lightweight backpack
- Trail guides/maps
- 2L of water to ensure you stay hydrated
- Light lunch food like kimbap ( Korean sushi-like dish) or sandwiches
- A light snack like an energy bar
- Anti-slip gloves to hold the ropes and cable firmly
- Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat
- Basic first-aid kit
- Hiking boots (optional but highly recommended)
- Trekking pole (optional)
- Mobile and Power Bank
- Cash or T-money card with at least KRW5000 ( USD4.5 ) on it for transportation
Bukhansan Hiking Tips
- Be aware of the Bukhansan National Park regulations on the Rest-Year Sabbatical System, restricted access during the Mountain Fire Watch Period, dangerous areas, and other access restrictions when hiking.
- Get yourself good travel insurance that covers mountain hiking to make sure you stay safe and protected.
- Check the weather and trail conditions before your hike to ensure you have a smooth hiking journey.
- Hike on weekdays and early in the morning to avoid the crowds and long queues to reach the peaks.
- Wear proper shoes when hiking. Do not wear sandals or flip flops. Wearing hiking boots is recommended if you have one.
- Do not be surprised by Koreans wearing full hiking attire when they hike. As long as you wear comfortable clothes, you are good to go.
- Stay on track as the path can be dangerous if you wander off.
- Most Koreans hike pretty fast. Do not be overwhelmed, but instead, just let them through and maintain hiking according to your capability.
- If you plan to hike in the winter, make sure you bring proper winter attire and hiking equipment to guarantee you have a safe hiking trip, as the course will be cold, icy and slippery.
- Once you reach the top, have a rest and a picnic before going down. You deserve a rewarding rest at the peak after a strenuous hike.
Hiking Bukhansan Is An Epic Hike for Everyone
Hiking Bukhansan has no shortage of epic hikes and discoveries.
The glorious mountain is rich with beautiful landscapes, challenging trails, outstanding views, varieties of flora and fauna, and ancient historical sites that welcome its visitors to get a break from city life.
Whether you are a veteran or novice hiker, hiking Bukhansan mountain can be for anyone and everyone who is looking for adventurous outdoor entertainment.
Have you hiked Bukhansan mountain? Which trails have you tried? Do share your journey experience so that all of us can also learn from it.