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If you are looking for either an intense ultra-marathon trail run in a single push, or a longer project to run while in Korea, this is a great place to start. Fully accessible via public transportation, pretty well-marked and generally interesting, the Seoul Trail encompasses all the major Seoul Metropolitan area and provides a good overall experience of Seoul from a running perspective.
Need to Know
First off, hiking in Korea is not a wilderness experience, you are expected to use actual bathroom structures....good luck finding privacy on a trail anyhow. There are enough, but you may find stretches without them. I always made sure to hit the bathroom at the subway at the start.
Definitely-potable water is scarce. If you are okay with questionable park-bathroom tap water, you are in luck. I carried a filtration-bottle and was able to refill enough off that.
The city sections were the most difficult to navigate. There is so much visual stimulation going on in the city areas, the markers do not stand out. I'd suggest bringing a cell phone and be able to cross reference a maps app against the printed trail map (which is very tourist-oriented and incredibly vague.) The maps are a fun game of visual-shape matching. There are no scales, topography, standardize labeling, etc. Consider the trail map an "Artistic Rendering" of the trail more than a topographically accurate map.
Certainly run-able, in fact I saw tags for a past Ultra along the trail.
The trail officially starts and ends at Dobongsan Station. Working clockwise around the city, you'll experience just about everything, good and bad. There are rocky mountains, serene forests, historic temples, rivers and streams, cool architecture, construction zones, cookie-cutter apartment jungles, drainage ditches, endless sidewalks, areas of expensive real-estate, parks, schools, restaurants, even a giant open-air recycling dump.....
The name of the game here is collecting stamps in the Seoul Trail stamp book. The books themselves are available at the 'Seoul Trail' information center at the start near Dobongsan Station. The stamps are located inside these red newspaper-stand like booths dispersed around the trail.
In Korea, running is quite popular with an older crowd more so than the 20-30 somethings. So the recommended method in the map-guide involves breaking it down into 21 sub-sections with an officially estimated time of about 65 hours. I just did each of the 8 sections in a single push each, and my total time was around 35 hours.
Notably, my GPS consistently recorded 10-18% longer distances than the listed distances in the map/guide.
This trail does not really get deep into any of the individual mountains and parks it goes by. It skirts the edges of just about everything. There are absolutely some beautiful sections to the Seoul Trail, but having also done the interiors of many of these parks, I can confidently say that the Seoul Trail is about experiencing Seoul, NOT about exploring wilderness.
This is also a fantastic way to experience Korea Hiking Culture, which absolute deserves being capitalized as a proper noun. Endless trekking poles even for sidewalks and stairs, wearing gaiters on paved sidewalks in sunny weather, staircases upon staircases, outfits worthy of a K2 attempt being worn on a warm autumn stroll down a carpeted (yes carpeted) trail, 30+ person 'hiking teams/clubs' with numbered identification placards on their packs, old school Korea pop music blasting from phones, soju and makgeoli picnics........you die hard PCT thru-hikers might scoff at it while you file the handle off your toothbrush, but its just part of life here!
Flora & Fauna
Lots of humans and occasionally dogs.
Shared By: Nate D