OverviewSeoraksan, or Mt. Seorak, is located in the northern portion of the Taebaek Mountain Range in the northeast corner of South Korea. It is the third highest mountain in South Korea, and is considered by many to be its most beautiful. Like the famed Geumgang Mountain across the border in North Korea, it is composed of a fantastic array of rock towers, waterfalls, and some 28 major peaks, the highest of which is Daechongbong Peak (1,708 meters, 5604’). Below the peaks there are gorgeous hardwood forests rising above crystal clear cascades and pools of water. Although not widely known in the West, it is an extremely popular mountain in Korea and on any summer day one can expect to meet hundreds or thousands of people hiking its trails. The 2018 Winter Olympics will take place close to the mountain within Gangwon Province.
Seoraksan National Park
Some useful contacts include:
Seoraksan National Park webpage
List of ranger stations, information centers, parking lot, shelters and rest areas, and the campsite. Each of the above includes a phone number and address.
Fees for parking, camping, shelters, etc.
Information or reservations for cabins and shelters.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Red TapeThere is a nominal entry fee of several thousand won to enter the park. As noted in the rock climbing section, you must get permission to carry out this activity. There are a number of areas detailed here that are closed to public access as well as the possibility for seasonal closures due to factors such as fire danger. Camping costs approximately 1000 to 2000 won and staying at one of the several mountain huts is also possible at a cost of roughly 7000 won. If you need money, there are a number of ATM’s in the vicinity of the park. Additionally, money can be exchanged in some of the fancier hotels and at banks in Seoul and Sokcho City.
GeologyThe region contains largely Mesozoic granite and granodiorite. More detailed information can be found here.
Things to do around Seoraksan
Take the Cable Car to Gwongeumseong! This spectacular peak lords over the Cheongbuldong Valley directly adjacent to the Seorakdong Information Center. The tram, which costs about 7000 won and runs from about 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, whisks you up to the former site of castle that was built some 800 years ago. Once there, if weather permits, you get spectacular views of the East Sea. By hiking and then scrambling some (3rd class with a rope there for aid) you can reach the summit of the peak where the view opens in all directions. This is well worth the effort! While the cable car is ascending, it is clear that there was once a path directly up the line of the cables which angles slightly left near the top. However, this appears to be currently closed for hiking.
Visit an ancient temple and much newer statue of Buddha: A very short walk will allow you to visit what is reputedly one of the oldest Buddhist temples in existence. soon be visible on the right. Shortly thereafter, one can cross any of three bridges and arrive at the Sinheungsa Temple which was originally built in the year 652. Due to several fires over the years, the current buildings were constructed considerably more recently but are quite extraordinary nevertheless. The temple of Baekdamsa is also accessable from the western portion of the park and is near the Baekdam Information Center.
Rock a giant boulder and then ascend a huge stairway to the summit region of Ulsanbawi Rock: This hike is about 4 km in each direction and starts by hiking to Sinheungsa Temple. From there, hike north up a well travelled path for a little over 2 km to Heundeulbawi Rock which is a large boulder resting on a much larger stone opposite a beautiful shrine. If you push firmly on the boulder in the down-valley direction it is possible to make the entire thing rock back and forth and give you a sense of being very strong. From here, you can continue up the trail for another kilometer to the top region of the mighty Ulsanbawi Rock. This portion of the trail is largely stairs and leads to a spectacular view in all directions! There is an extensive series of pictures showing this hike posted online by "PMC" that are interesting to check out if you are contemplating the hike or want to get a feel for it without travelling to Korea.
Visit a shrine in a cave on a cliff:
Climb Daecheongbong Peak:
Rockclimbinghere. The documents needed in the application were recently posted on line in English by a considerate climber. An English version of the Seorak Park page is accessable here. There is a nice article describing climbing in Seoraksan here.
Given the vast number of waterfalls, this is also an ideal location for ice climbing, with the three hundred meter TowuangSeong, located an hours walk past Biryeong Falls, being a favorite.
Climate and WeatherGenerally, it is extremely cold in mid winter at Seoraksan. During the early spring there is a dry season which often causes the closure of a number of trails and climbing routes. After a rainy spell in late May and June, the weather usually turns drier and hotter for late summer, although the possibility for a typhoon increases... Many people enjoy going to Seoraksan in the fall to witness the beautiful fall colors.
Several sites, including this one, give weather forecasts for the mountain.
External LinksThe following websites have information regarding Seoraksan. I used many of them in obtaining information for this page:
Seoraksan Park has a page that can be accessed here. This includes a bevy of information including a map of how to approach the park from Sokcho, entry, camping and hut names and prices, suggested hikes and much more.
Wikipedia's Soraksan page.
Lonely Planet provides information on the region
Republic of Korea's Ministry of Environment page on Seoraksan.
Fees and Closures >This highly useful site tells of seasonal closures, areas of the park that are restricted or closed to travel, various fees, and travel information to the park.
>This site includes extensive information on fees including entry fees, camping fees, lodging fees, and even fees needed to film a movie in the park.
Frommers has extensive information on the park here.
There is at least one commercial guide for rockclimbing at Seoraksan. You can use this link to access their webpage.
A hiker posted a You Tube video with scenes from Geumganggul Cave and Biryeong Falls. This video includes some footage of climbers rapelling down a cliff as well.
Korea's Tourism Organization has a site that includes a number of hikes, including some of those that I have listed above as well as others. In addition there are some fabulous pictures of the peaks.