Springtime is here, and so are the crowds

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Springtime is here, and so are the crowds


White cherry blossom trees on each side of the seven-kilometer (4.3-mile) street leading from Everland theme park to the Ho-Am Art Museum in Gyeonggi. Cherry blossoms are expected to be in full bloom on April 17. [JoongAng Ilbo]

The cherry blossom trees along Yunjungno in Yeouido, western Seoul, attract large crowds during springtime year after year. While the scenery is beautiful, the tourists thronging the streets can turn what should be a time of peaceful reflection into a maddening, Disneyland-esque nightmare.

With an unusually cold March nearly in the past, why not welcome the belated warmth with a trip to a lesser-known cherry blossom trail - one more remote but still breathtaking in its natural beauty?

The Korea JoongAng Daily reveals two of the best spots to say farewell to winter and hello to spring without the ruinous crowds.


Mount Ansan in Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun District

If you don’t want to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers while walking along a cherry blossom trail, you should try Mount Ansan in Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun District. It has many steep slopes, but because it has an altitude of only 295.5 meters (970 feet), it is a favorite hiking trail among locals. There are about 10 climbing courses passing through wild flowers and myriads of cherry blossom trees. At the peak is an astonishing view of Mount Bukhansan, Mount Inwangsan, Haengjusanseong Fortress and the Han River.

Along the path is the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History, built by the local governing body, which exhibits various geological and biological relics.

It is not known when exactly the cherry blossoms began to bloom along this trail in Ansan, but as trees are planted primly in an Indian file along both sides of the trail, visitors can only assume that someone had planted the trees along the trail.

Mount Ansan is quite easy to get to. From the Seodaemun District Office, walk up a narrow alley for two or three minutes until you see the Seodaemun Youth Center. The starting point of the path in the parking lot is hard to miss - a line of cherry blossom trees lead the way to the summit from there.

The trail is not a terribly long one, either, and should take only about 30 minutes for an adult at a casual pace. But as there are many benches along the way, you can sit down and take pictures or enjoy the “flower rain” of white cherry blossom petals.

If you slowly walk up the road for about 20 minutes, you encounter a different trail that goes down to Hongjae stream. Five minutes down the trail is a man-made waterfall as well as a musical fountain. There’s also a bike rental center where you can take out bikes for the day.

At the end of “cherry blossom road” is a path blocked off to traffic that circles around Mount Ansan. Although it’s the end of the blossom trail, you can enjoy a view of forsythia near the Yeonheung mineral spring.

To get to Mount Ansan, get off at Sinchon Station, line No. 2, exit 3 or Hongjae Station, line No. 3, exit 3 and go to Seodaemun District Office north of Yonsei University. For more information, call (02) 330 1395.

On the way from Everland to Ho-Am Art Museum in Gyeonggi

According to the Yongin Photography Club, one of the best spots to view white cherry blossoms is in front of the Ho-Am Art Museum in Yongin, Gyeonggi.

The seven-kilometer (4.3-mile) road from the Everland theme park to the Ho-Am Art Museum, called Gashilgil, is surrounded by cherry blossoms. The breeze from the nearby lake in front of the art museum makes for a breath-taking scene.

For those who would rather drive through the cherry blossoms than take a stroll, the road from the theme park to the art museum creates a “cherry blossom tunnel” with trees on both sides of the street.

The nearby Yongin Agricultural Theme Park is also a popular destination among those visiting the cherry blossoms. It is only 25 kilometers away from the Ho-Am Art Museum and has a variety of flowers on display. The fifth Yongin Spring Flower Festival will also be held from April 4 to 8, during which visitors can enjoy up to 40 different programs.

By Yim Seung-hye
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