Located in Halla-san National Park on the island province of Jeju, South Korea, the dormant shield volcano Mount Halla dominates the small 74km long island at its heart. Often topped with cloud coverage on the summit, it is the highest point in the country at 1950m/6400ft.
View from the summit
It's an easy hike over all (from any starting point) and only steep in a few spots, however if you venture off trail or onto the closed trails near the summit it's not hard to lose your footing especially with low visibility when socked in by clouds.
Open field with volcanic boulders
For a full list of trails and a trail map visit here: http://www.thesouthkoreatravelguide.com/hiking/hallasan_national_park.html
View East from the edge of the caldera/summit
You can fly to the Island from any major city in Korea for about $50 one way. There is also the option of taking a ferry from Busan, Wando or Mokpo on the southern coasts.
The Island itself has fairly good public transportation, although not extensive, but the buses don't run as frequently on holidays. If you are in need of a ride you'll likely be offered one by the locals as I was several times, including the police who dropped me off at a sculpture park because the bus wasn't running there at the time.
View of the summit bathed in cloud cover
There is no red tape to speak of although certain trails and areas are periodically closed for months or even years to allow the flora and fauna to recover from the massive onslaught of tourists that frequent this and other popular mountains in the country.
There are 5 main trails that approach the summit however one has been closed. That leaves two trails that connect on the caldera rim.
- Seongpanak - main trail from east
- Guaneumsa - trail from north
There are two trails that connect at a hut on the western flank.
- Eorimok - trail from northwest
- Yeongsil - trail from the southwest
These trails can all connect via spur trails at the highest point on the mountain, but alas the summit is closed and there are steep fines (₩ equivalent of $200-400) for violators. The closest you can legally access to the summit is a point in the rim a few hundred meters distant and 10m vertical of the summit.