Hiking to Hyangno-bong
Hiking in Korea is a sport. Hiking in the autumn when the leaves start to change can be a contact sport with so many people on the trails.
The mountain ranges are numerous and the views are spectacular. I hike throughout the year with a hiking club from the high school that I used to work for and come fall I’m even more thankful to get out and about with these guys. This past weekend we headed up to Hyangno-bong peak in the Bukhansan National Park and the entire way up we were alone on the trail. The head of our club managed to find a lesser known trail that afforded us the pleasure of a quiet hike into the mountains together. We met up at Gupabal Subway Station at 9AM and the sidewalks were already covered with hikers and hiking teams ready to start their own trips into the mountains nearby. The line for the bus was enormous so since there were only four of us for the day, we hopped into a taxi to the trail our leader had chosen. There was no one around and the entrance to the trail looked nothing like an entrance to a good trail, probably why no one else was taking it. It led us to some traditional Korean graves and then further into the trees before it looked like a good trail. We made our way up to Jingwansa Temple and then over to Hyangno-bong Peak (향로봉) and then down to Bulgwangsa and out to Bulgwang Subway Station. The whole hike took just three hours at a medium pace and some stops to chat. The beginning was a nice dirt path. The higher up we got the more difficult it became with less dirt and more big granite rocks to climb around and on, but the whole way there were beautiful yellow leaves and red berries hinting at the colors to come. The leaves have really only started to change and from the top it was clear to see that most of the trees were still green, but in a week or two the entire place will be reds, yellows and purples to the joy of hikers and photographers alike. Now is the time to put on those hiking shoes, grab a camera and head into the mountains here in Seoul or elsewhere in the country. Bukhansan National Park is easily accessible via the Seoul subway system has trails for everyone from beginners to the extreme hikers and mountain climbers.