중앙데일리

Lush trails for fall trekking season

Sept 30,2010
Dulle Trail on Jiri Mountain [JoongAng Ilbo]

The crisp crackle in the air can only mean one thing - fall is here, and with it comes the fall trekking season.

In Korea, an autumn pilgrimage to a mountain top is almost a required activity, as much for the burst of flaming color as for the camaraderie that sharing food and drink with friends, or with strangers who quickly become friends, inspires.

Trekking has always been popular in Korea, where 70 percent of the land is covered with mountains, and this year promises to be no different from the last.

Popular routes such as Jeju Island’s Olle Trails - which were created in response to interest in a slower way of life - and trails that wind around the base of Korea’s most famous mountains have continued to attract a stream of visitors and there are an increasing number of similar projects in progress.

Here are some trekking courses for those who want to get out and enjoy the color.


Mount Bukhansan: Dulle Trail

For a capital city, Seoul has an unusually large number of mountains. One of these is Mount Bukhansan. A 44-kilometer-long path around the mountain has recently opened, which is welcome news for Seoulites who want to get outside for a walk but don’t want to spend time sitting in traffic.

The wooden walking path has 14 sections that pass through a white pine forest connected to Bukhansanseong Fortress.

The trails start from Ui-dong district in Seoul and end in the city of Goyang in Gyeonggi Province.

If you’re one of those people who considers trekking a strenuous sport, rest assured.

The Dulle Trail boasts a gentle incline that is relatively easy to navigate. It is even easy for children because it skirts the mountain rather than going up.

No hiking gear is needed. All you need are comfortable clothes and shoes.

The path has nine observation platforms and 35 benches or rest areas.

The Dulle Path near Suyu is especially likely to attract a number of trekkers.

At the top of the trail, near a 12-meter-tall observatory, a spectacular view of Seoul awaits. This area also provides access to a 60-meter-long skywalk that runs through the Eunpyeong District.

A part of the Dulle Path will be part of a 27-kilometer trekking path that goes from Euiryeong to Jungnyeong to Eunpyeong New Town. The path is part of a new city-led project called Green Trekking Seoul.


DMZ Trekking Course, Gyeonggi

Thanks to the opening of this trekking course last May, visitors can now walk through the northern-most region of Korea.

The picturesque scenery along the trail includes several cultural and historical sites, including Deokpojin, the Hangjusanseong Fortress, Hwaseokjeong, and the Horogoruseong Fortress.

The trail also passes a habitat for migratory birds, Gimpo Plain and the Unification Observatory, which allows for glimpses of North Korea on a clear day.

The sight of the barbed wire fences alone is a stark reminder of the tragic division of the country and the ongoing tension between North and the South.

The course is 182.3 kilometers long and starts from Gimpo in Gyeonggi. It then passes through Goyang, Paju and Yeoncheon. It consists of 12 smaller sections, each of which is approximately 15 kilometers in length and takes about four to five hours to complete.


Udo Island: Olle Path

Udo is an island located about 10 minutes away from Jeju Island by boat. It is just six square kilometers, making it an easy island to explore in an afternoon.

The island is inhabited by just 1,700 people, most of whom make their living from tourism and fishing.

One of the highlights on the island is Hongjodangoe Haebin Beach, the only beach in Korea made of chunks of brilliant white coral.

The island also offers an excellent vantage point from which to view Seongsan Ilchulbong, a Unesco World Natural Heritage site.

The rock formation, which is actually a volcanic mountain topped by a huge crated and 99 rocks that ring the structure like a crown, is known for its fantastic views of the morning sunrise.

Udo’s Olle Path is 16.1 kilometers long. The circular path starts at Cheonjinhang Port and passes 12 spots before coming back around to the trailhead.

The course takes approximately four to five hours to traverse. If that sounds too tough, you can hop on a bus that follows the path.


Jeju Island: Olle Trails

This island paradise located just a short plane ride away from the mainland has long been popular with honeymooners and hikers, but it is quickly becoming a popular place for trekking as well.

Since their establishment in September 2007, the Jeju Olle trails have been visited by tens of thousands of walkers.

The paths, which are set away from the island’s urban areas, offer a slice of life at a slower pace.

Some of the paths have been opened to the public only recently, meaning that some of the areas along the trails are almost completely unspoiled.

The trails follow 21 different routes along the pristine coastal perimeter of Jeju Island. The paths are well marked and are suitable for people of all ages.

The courses have different levels of difficulty as determined by the Jeju Olle Management Office, but on average each course takes between four to five or between five to six hours.

For more information about the trail, visit the Jeju Olle Web site at www.jejuolle.org.


Mount Jiri: Dulle Trail

The Dulle Trail on Mount Jiri connects three provinces, including North Jeolla, South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang.

The trail is still under construction, slated for completed by the end of the year, but there is one trail that is already open to the public. This trail runs from Jucheon in North Jeolla to Sancheong in South Jeolla and is 70 kilometers long.

The trail is relatively easy for beginning trekkers and is perfect for those who are looking for a relaxing walk rather than a steep mountain climb.

The trail was created to restore the old paths that pass through the island’s ridges, forests, rivers, rice fields and villages.

Old Bamje Trail is an especially good option for trekkers who are also interested in camping out under the stars. The facility offers restrooms, drinking water and beautiful pavilions.


By Oh Du-hwan [estyle@joongang.co.kr]



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