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Best Hiking Trails in South Korea

Overview

The Korean peninsula boasts a mountainous landscape and South Koreans definitely take advantage of this as hiking is a national pastime in the country. There are many areas to hike in Korea; some of the popular ones include Jeju island (with the highest peak in South Korea, Hallasan), around Seoul including the very popular Bukhansan, Seoraksan National Park, Jirisan National Park, Songnisan National Park and many more. The best months to hike in South Korea are April to May and October to November. Read on for more information about where and when to go hiking in South Korea. 

Capital: Seoul

When To Hike in South Korea?

April – May; October – November: Least amount of rain but warm enough to hike
June – September: Rainy; hot
December – March: Too cold

Climate:  Temperate climate, with cold, sunny winters and hot, rainy summers. Cold in winter, hot in summer.  Winds from Siberia can blow in and some parts are quite windy such as Jeju Island.  Typhoons possible in late summer, early fall.   

 

South Korea Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy – Medium: Hiking is a national pastime here.  For many of the popular places, if you’re looking for solitude, you won’t find it.  Many maps are in English; trails are well-marked with dual English/Korean signs.  However, beyond the national park trails, it might be difficult to find info on hiking outside of these places.  Also even though many people speak English, many don’t and not all signs will be in English. 

Transportation required: Great public transportation infrastructure (train network, buses, etc) but need a car to get to more remote places

Where to stay in South Korea for hiking:

  • Seoul
  • Busan
  • Daegu
  • Jeju

Most popular hikes in South Korea

The whole peninsula is mountainous, but the main areas seem to be on the northeastern part and a small part in the southcentral area of country. There are 17 mountainous national parks as well as other parks, mountains, etc. Highest Mountain: Hallasan (1950 m); extinct volcano located on Jeju island.

Filter out hiking places of South Korea by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Jeju Island

  • Hallasan National Park – home of highest peak; routes regularly closed d/t high traffic; can be strong winds
  • Jeju Olle Trail – www.jejuolle.org; circumnavigates the whole island – 425 km, split into sections

Byeonsanbando National Park

Wolchulsan National Park

  • Smallest and least visited NP
  • Cheonhwangbong (809 m) is park’s main peak

Naejangsan National Park

Ulleungdo Island

  • Small mountainous island between Korea and Japan, has hiking trails 
  • Seonginbong (984 m) main summit

Gayasan National Park

Deogyusan National Park

  • Popular in winter

Jirisan National Park

  • Largest in South Korea; contains mainland’s highest peak  
  • Has an organized system of shelters so multi-day hiking is possible

Juwangsan National Park

Sobaeksan National Park

  • Less visited due to location; has high peaks; June is also a good month here

Woraksan National Park

Songnisan National Park

  • Very popular, many 1000 m peaks
  • Cheonhwangbong (park’s highest peak)

Gyeryongsan National Park

  • Small but popular

Chiaksan Natural Recreation Forest

Taebaeksan

  • Mountain range that has a provincial Park – hiking trails here

Odaesan National Park

  • Smaller, less visited, lower peaks, not as many trails, in comparison with some of the other national parks in the area
  • Gangneung good base

Seoraksan National Park

Bukhansan National Park

  • Located right in Seoul; can be VERY busy

Long Distance Trails of South Korea

  • Jeju Olle Trail – www.jejuolle.org; circumnavigates the whole island – 425 km, split into sections
  • Baekdu-Daegan Trail
  • Jirisan

South Korea's Walking & Hiking Resources

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South Korea Hiking Books: 

  • Hiking South Korea: 88 Day Hikes from Sandy Beaches to Rocky Peaks, by Erik Palin, 2023, Otterpine – https://amzn.to/3vTmETA
  • Baekdu Daegan: Hiking Korea’s Mountain Spine, by Roger Shepherd, 2020, Independently published – https://amzn.to/3J95i8l
  • Lonely Planet Korea, by Damian Harper, MaSovaida Morgan, Thomas O’Malley, Phillip Tang, Rob Whyte, 2021, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/4cGRSOF
  • Rough Guide to Korea (Travel Guide eBook), by Rough Guides, 2018, APA Publications – https://amzn.to/49rMnAf

 

Hiking Associations/Clubs: With hiking a national pastime there are plenty of hiking clubs, here is just a sample

 

Best Hiking Trails in South Korea:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from guidebooks, trail maps/apps, websites, and national park/tourist offices:

  • Hallasan – Jeju Island
  • Jeju Olle Trail – Jeju Island
  • Cheonhwangbong – Wolchulsan NP
  • Daecheongbong – Seoraksan NP
  • Palgongsan – near Daegu
  • Daedunsan – Daedunsan Provincial Park
  • Jirisan – Jirisan National Park
  • Bukhansan – Seoul
  • Gayasan – Gayasan National Park
  • Woraksan – Woraksan National Park
  • Juwangsan – Juwangsan National Park

 Easy Hiking Trails in South Korea:

  • Namsan – Seoul
  • Jangsan – Busan

 

South Korea Hiking Websites:

 

South Korea Weather Website: 

 

South Korea Official Tourism Organizations:

 

South Korea Hiking Apps:

 

South Korea Hiking Maps:

What Else To Do

  • In April 2023, 11 peace-themed hiking trails were opened along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea: https://www.durunubi.kr/dmz-main.do
  • Food
  • Baseball
  • Jeongdongjin (unusual town)
  • Penis Park

Other Important Points

  • Koreans love their hiking gear