If you want to go hiking, see the best-known mountain range in South Korea or just get some epic photos, then make sure you visit the Seoraksan National Park. Within the park, you’ll find pine forests, jagged and rocky mountain peaks, crystal clear streams, and stunning lakes.
The highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range in the Gangwon Province in eastern South Korea. It is located in a national park near the city of Sokcho. After the Hallasan volcano on Jeju Island and Jirisan in the south, Seoraksan is the third highest mountain in South Korea. The Daechongbong Peak (대청봉) of Seoraksan reaches 1,708 meters (5,603 feet). The mountain is sometimes considered the backbone of South Korea.
Seoraksan National Park is also home to over 2,000 animal species. Start your visit at the National Park Visitor Centre, where you can pick up free maps in English and Korean. Then, enjoy the miles and miles of signposted hiking trails that crisscross the entire park.
Outer Seorak District
The Yukdam waterfall and the Biryeong waterfall (비룡폭포) are located on the left side of the valley, about a forty-minute walk from the main car park. Ulsanbawi (울산바위) is a rock formation in the Seoraksan national park. The shape of Ulsanbawi is unique in the area. To reach the rocks you need to follow a hiking path and climb over 800 steps (it is actually 888 steps according to locals). On the way there, there are two temples and a spherical rock (Heundeulbawi, 흔들바위) which is located on top of a larger rock. This rock is about 5 meters (16 feet) high and can be moved with some effort. Thousands of people have already tried to push down Heundeulbawi, but nobody gets further than waggling the rock.
Legend of Ulsanbawi
According to the legend, Ulsanbawi comes from the city of Ulsan in the southeast of Korea. As Kumgangsan (금강산) was built, Ulsanbawi walked to the north as the representative of the city. Unfortunately, Ulsanbawi arrived too late and there was no more room. Ulsanbawi was ashamed and slowly trudged back to the south. One evening the rock went to sleep in the Seorak area. Ulsanbawi felt it was so beautiful around there that it decided to stay for good.
At the end of the main valley is Biseondae, a rock platform in a stream. Above the stream is difficult to reach the cave, which offers clear views of the surrounding rock formations.
A bit farther from the entrance is the Valley of a Thousand Buddhas (천불동계곡), the primary valley of Seorak Mountain, also sometimes referred to as Seorak Valley. The valley was so named because the rock formations that line its sides resemble a line-up of Buddha statues.
The Dinosaur Ridge (공룡능선) is the ridge in Seoraksan that extends from Mardeungyeong to Sinseonam. It is one of Korea's cultural scenic treasures, being designated as the 103rd treasure in 2013. It earns its name due to the mountain peaks in the ridge looking like the back of a spiked dinosaur. The course is very strenuous, with steep peaks that require a 16+ hour hike to go through the course. It is listed among the most difficult mountain courses to climb in Korea. Due to this, accidents due to exhaustion are very common, especially in winter. One incident in December 1993 left 2 university students dead due to them losing their way at night and experiencing hypothermia.