hiking seoul south korea

Hiking in Seoul, South Korea

Hiking? In Seoul? No way! The city that is known for its population density, delicious foods and high rise buildings… There’s no way there could possibly be room for some hills to hike on in the city. This is what I thought the first time I travelled to Seoul back in 2018. I figured I would spend my days exploring the markets and restaurants and getting to know some locals. Never did I dream that I would spend a day hiking in Seoul, South Korea up a steep incline for an amazing view.

hiking seoul south korea
Gwanaksan Summer 2019′

Hiking in Seoul

Prior to arriving in Seoul for the first time I had done a bit of research. The research was mainly about fun or interesting areas to explore and hangout in. Delicious restaurants and nightlife areas were what was on my mind the most. Hiking is something that I love, but again I didn’t even think to research this prior to the trip. I had met some locals at a language exchange bar who were talking about a nearby mountain that were going to climb in a few days. This peaked my interest and I needed to know more. They told me that it was called Gwanaksan and that it was in the South of Seoul down near the Seoul National University.

hiking in seoul south korea
Friend overlooking Seoul proper

The excursion to Gwanaksan

Seeing as how my trip would be ending before their planned excursion, I made a plan to go hike the mountain. First though I had to figure out how to get there, which wasn’t the easiest of things to do. The easiest part was taking the subway. Riding the subway in Seoul is a very pleasant experience with quiet subway cars and friendly people. The subway is clean and takes you to a variety of places on the numerous lines that Seoul has to offer. Below will show a map with the location of the subway stop.

I follow the guide on this website here to get me to the trailhead as it can be a bit confusing. Do take exit 4 though!

The hike or climb as some would say

The hike that I always do takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit. That trail being the Sadang trail which is accessible from Sadang subway station. It gets rather steep in parts and if you are here in the Spring or Summer expect to be drenched in sweat! I’m always sore the next day after this hike. The hike is rated as intermediate, but I’ve seen people in their 60’s climbing it leisurely. Regardless though it’s a great way to burn off some soju and BBQ and see a great view. Don’t underestimate it though so be sure to bring some water and sunscreen.

If you would like more information on the different trails and hikes at Gwanaksan then check out this very informative post: Gwanaksan Mountain.

hiking gwanaksan in seoul

Exercise equipment at Gwanaksan

Believe it or not just outside of this photos edges was a Korean man in his 70’s doing pull ups and curls. He told us in pretty good English that he came to this park all the time. Needless to say the man was in incredible shape for his age. He looked at least 20 years younger than he was. Age is just a number, folks! Anyways here’s a couple photos of my buddy curling this maybe 40lb bar with some barbells. The equipment is taken care of and has definitely been here for some time. There’s some other things too like a pull up bar and some gymnastics equipment.

A wonderful experience

If you have made it this far of the post, then you will notice that my clothes are different in this picture. Some of these pictures are from my hike in the summer of 2018 and others are from when me and my friend visited in 2019. I’ve been to Seoul 4 times now as of October 2020 and every time I visit, I have to climb Gwanaksan. I climb it for the view, the exercise and of course the nostalgia of remembering that very first time that I visited and climbed.

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