Far from busy Seoul, Seoraksan National Park provides an escape for visitors to enjoy the beauty of Korea’s natural landscape. This 98,000-acre (398-square kilometre) park includes mountains, waterfalls, forests, valleys, and ocean views. Over 2,000 animal species and 1,400 plant types have been observed.
Hiking and climbing are the most common activities in the park. Aggressive climbers may prepare for the heat of summer with temperatures above 85°F (30°C) or the snows of winter, but the park is most popular in spring and fall. In autumn, varied plant life provides brilliant displays of dappled red and yellow leaves up and down mountainous ranges.
Hiking ranges from easy to challenging, with slope level from flat to severe. Non-climbers can use the Seorak Sogongwon cable car passage to Gwongeumseong Peak to enjoy high-elevation views and see remains of an ancient fortress. Walkers can access sites near the valley entrance a forty-minute stroll brings visitors to several waterfalls.
More than ten marked trails offer daytrip hikes ranging from one to eleven hours. Distances, difficulty level, and time required are outlined by the park service, along with interesting legends about the trails and natural or man-made sites beside them. Some trails have been enhanced with carved steps or metal stairs to aid the climb and several paths include shelters and food vendors. Views include cliffs, waterfalls, and ocean as well as caves and temples.
Yangpok Course is especially popular in autumn for its views of mountains, valley floor, forest areas, and the Yang Waterfall. It takes about six hours round-trip with moderate climbing. A hike to Daecheongbong at 5,600 feet (1,708 metres), the highest of the park’s thirty peaks, takes twelve hours. All hikers are advised to properly assess skill level and prepare adequately for challenging conditions.
UNESCO has designated Seoraksan National Park as a Biosphere Reserve to preserve sustainability and harmony between man and nature.
The park is open year-round. There is a fee for the cable car. The main entrance to Seoraksan is just 15 minutes from Sokcho by bus or taxi.