Mountain peaks offer best views of Chuseok’s harvest moonDuring the Chuseok holidays, the moon is at its brightest of the year. Fortunately, most metropolitan cities in Korea have mountains nearby and it is possible to go to a quiet place on their slopes to enjoy views of the harvest moon. The following are some recommended moon-gazing spots in Gyeonggi, Chungcheong, Jeolla and Gyeongsang provinces:
* Mount Geomdan in Hanam, Gyeonggi province, is one of the best places for views of the Seoul metropolitan area. Mount Bukhan, Mount Dobong and the Gangnam district can be seen to the north. To the west, there is a picturesque view of Paldang Lake.
The mountain top is flat and has no trees so it offers an excellent sightline to the moon. The best way to get there is to start at the Korea Animation High School in Changu-dong, Hanam. Walk past the tomb of Yu Gil-jun and an observation rock to reach the mountaintop. At the peak, there are full views in all directions, which give a feeling of openness and spaciousness. The pathway is relatively safe except for around the observation rock area, where some caution is needed. It takes about three hours to walk to the peak and back. For information, call the Hanam city office on (031) 790-6063 or Kolon Sports at (031) 794-5942.
* Mount Oseo in South Chungcheong province offers a little bit of everything. It is a beautiful mountain with a deep forest, picturesque foliage, the glow of the setting sun and bright moonlight. Besides that, a descent from the mountain leads to Namdang port, where visitors can enjoy prawns and other seafood.
After walking past the Mount Oseo forest office and turning left, visitors will come across the rather humble-looking Woljeong Temple. Past the temple, there is a wide track through the middle of the forest. Go past flower fields until the ridge of the mountaintop appears. On the ridgeline, visitors can see eulalia fields below and the Yellow Sea. This trail also takes about three hours for a round trip, and there are several springs where visitors can get water along the way. For information, call the Mount Oseo forest office on (041) 936-5465
* Mount Chuwol in North Jeolla province seems almost as if it were created just for the Chuseok holiday. The most recommended route is from Bori rock, past Sang peak, to the mountaintop. Walk for about 40 minutes from the parking lot until you reach a steel staircase and Saja rock, after which the track forks. Take the right pathway.
If you have time before the sun sets, walk two to three minutes to Bori rock to enjoy a panoramic view of Damyang Lake and the Geumseong wall, which should be tinged with gold by the evening sun. The view from the top of Bori rock is spectacular. From Bori rock to the mountaintop, the trail offers many scenic views. There are four helicopter-landing spaces nearby, from where there are clear views.
From the mountaintop, you can see Mount Mudeung and Mount Gangcheon across the lake. This trek also takes about three hours. For information, call the Damyang county office on (061) 380-3150.
* Mount Biseul, located on the border of North and South Gyeongsang provinces, also provides excellent views of the full moon. The mountain is heavily forested, but has well-defined walking trails. It is noted for its many azalea flowers. There are only low trees on the mountaintop, allowing for uninterrupted views. The best route is from Sudo rock, past Dorong rock, to the top.
Visitors can view the moon from Dorong rock, also. From its top, you can see Mounts Deoukyu, Gaya and Hwawang. Again, allow three hours for the journey. For information, call the Dalseong county office on (053) 668-2171.
by Han Hyeong-seok
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