Best Hiking Mountains in Seoul
Each of the 37 mountains in Seoul has a unique beauty all its own. At 837 meters high, Mt. Bukhansan is the highest in Seoul, and attracts a large number of hikers from all over the nation. Apart from Mt. Bukhansan, there are seven mountains including Dobongsan and Suraksan that are over 600 meters high. In addition to these steep mountains, there are also some with trails that make climbing as easy as a downtown stroll.
This feature presents a number of easy-to-climb mountains as well as mountain parks. Anyone can visit them to view the natural scenery or to get some exercise, and it doesn’t require any equipment. Follow KTO to the best spots nature has to offer –all right in the heart of Seoul.
A 10-minute walk from Nambu Express Bus Terminal station on Subway Line 3 will take you to Seoul Arts Center. The overpass in front of the center leads directly to a hiking trail for Mt. Umyeonsan. Named for its shape, which resembles a sleeping cow, 293 meter-high Umyeonsan lies between Seocho-gu in Seoul and Gwacheon in Gyeonggi-do. For this reason, it is one of the most popular hiking trails in Gangnam, together with Mt. Cheonggyesan and Gwanaksan.
For a refreshing one-hour hike, climb up until you come to Daeseongsa Temple and to a spring, and then come down to Seoul Arts Center to relax. A visit to the performance halls in the center, the Hangaram Art Museum, and the Korean Calligraphy Museum are also worthwhile places to see.
How to Get There: Take Subway Line 3 to Nambu Express Bus Terminal (Exit 5) → Walk ahead and turn right at the intersection → Walk ahead and go up the overpass to go to the hiking trail
Mt. Umyeonsan Natural Ecological Park
This park, which covers a 318,644㎡ area and is 1,320m in length, is relatively unknown. A 10-minute ride on bus No. 3217 from Yangjae Station (Subway Line 3) will take you to a beautiful rural residential town. Located on the outskirts is an ecological park, which has 14 sections including a butterfly observatory, and insect and flower observatories. It takes approximately one hour to look around.
Another good alternative is to take a leisurely walk along the path, relax on one of the many benches along the way, and listen to birds or insects while enjoying some time in meditation. While the park does not offer a view of Seoul, it has a picturesque reservoir that welcomes visitors.
How to Get There: Take Subway Line 3 to Yangjae Station (Exit 7) → Take green bus No. 3412 → Get off at the last stop → Walk ahead and turn left at the three-way intersection → Walk ahead and take the unpaved road on the left for another 100 meters.
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Mt. Yongmasan, at 348 meters high, has stationary exercise equipment along the hiking trail and an octagonal pavilion halfway up the mountain. At the summit, there is a marker showing the mountain’s height above sea level and a large steel radio tower. As you walk down towards Mt. Achasan from the summit, you will find the ruins of a small fort of the Goguryeo era (BC37~AD668) built at a strategic point overlooking the area of Jungnangcheon Stream.
On the way up, you will find numerous observation platforms from which one can see a great view of some of the landmarks of Seoul such as the Hangang Bridge, Mt. Namsan, 63 City building, and Gangnam COEX. In general, people start their hike from Mt. Yongmasan and go down to Mt. Achasan, or vice versa. Either trail takes about two hours. Some areas are steep, so it is important to wear hiking boots or trekking shoes.
When going up the mountain from Yongmasan Station, make sure to stop by Yongmasan’s Waterfall Park. The largest man-made waterfall in Asia, where the central falls are 51 meters high, while those on each side are 21 meters. At regular intervals, the water volume increases making a stronger flow
How to Get There: Take Subway Line 7 to Yongmasan Station (Exit 2) → Walk into the entrance of Hanshin Apartments, and walk ahead → Go up the stairs next to the pavilion and take a right past the playground to an exercise facility → Next to the facility, go up the stairs behind the wired fence.
Time: From the summit of Mt. Yongmasan to Mt. Achasan, it takes about 2 hours to 2 and a half hours..
At 287 meters high, Mt. Achasan is an easy 30-minute hike, which is perfect for beginners. In fact, many people walk up the mountain wearing casual clothing. It offers hikers a bird’s-eye-view of the Hangang River and the downtown area. At the halfway observation deck and the summit, you’ll get a view of the upper stream of the Hangang River, and the cities of Guri and Hanam. This is the closest vantage point for viewing the Hangang River from above.
How to Get There: Take Subway Line 5 to Achasan Station (Exit 2) → Turn left at the first intersection → Walk ahead and turn right at the dead-end three-way intersection → Walk for about 200 meters → Walk by Hwayangsa Temple and you will see the Daeseongam Entrance, which leads to the mountain.
Required time: It takes about one hour to go up and down the summit of Mt. Achasan. If you plan to start at Mt. Achasan and climb down Mt. Yongmasan, it will take about 2 to 2 and a half hours.
Located in the heart of Seoul, Mt. Namsan is easily accessible by the yellow loop bus or cable car, which goes straight to N Tower. If you want to see more of this mountain, put on some comfortable running shoes and take a leisurely stroll. Mt. Namsan is more for walking than hiking.
Another point of interest, there are a number of film locations on this mountain for movies and dramas. The stairway leading to the fountain is the backdrop for the final scene of “My Lovely Sam-soon”, while the fountain itself was a scene in the film “Lovers in Paris”. You can also take a cable car or loop bus up to N Seoul Tower and then walk down. This is a great trail for those who want to enjoy a carefree walk and do some sightseeing.
How to Get There: Take Subway Line 4 to Chungmuro Station (Exit 2) or take Subway Line 3 to Dongguk University Station (Exit 6) → Take the Namsan loop bus → Get off at the National Theater → Walk ahead and turn right → The trail starts on the left where there is traffic control.
Required time: It depends because there are many available trails in Namsan. If you are pressed for time, you can always come down halfway along the trails.
For more information about hiking in Seoul, visit http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=261100 and KTO’s main homepage http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/intro.html