Dogs No Dogs
Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife
The Korean park service closes trails all the time for all kinds of reasons, often with no forewarning (at least not on their English website). Either ask upon arrival or find a Korean friend to navigate their Korean websites for you.
This is the longest trail network inside a National Park on the Korean peninsula, and also the highest in elevation. The scenery is quite uniform, making it more of a physical feat more so than an opportunity to soak up amazing sights. MAYBE you'll see a Korean black bear.....MAYBE. They are trying to reintroduce them in the area.
Need to Know
The shelter reservation system is rather unique. There is a window for reserving them, you can't book that far in advance. This is the website: reservation.knps.or.kr/fore…
You'll want to start checking the windows for reservations to get an idea of when your time will come up. The morning that your date's reservation window opens up, you need to be sitting at a computer with the website open 20 minutes before the stated Korea-time that the window opens. Hit refresh until it becomes possible to make your reservation. These shelters will fill in minutes during hot times/seasons, and wild camping is illegal. This is your only option.
This run is considered, by standard, a 3 night traverse in one direction. The "usual" method is to start at this tracks starting point, spend 2-3 nights at intermediate shelters of your choice getting to the Jangtemeok Shelter just west of the high point, Cheonwangbong. Then, on the last/second to last morning go summit to see the sunrise, then if you are strong, run all the way down ending in the east. If you are more into the casual run thing, take one more night on your way down, maybe at Chibanmok Shelter. Naturally this requires transportation on both ends.
I will describe this the way I planned it out as an out-and back, since I'm a big solo-adventure fan and need to get back to my start point. It will take the same amount of time though, so you have essentially double the effort, which makes it double the fun, which logically makes sense as it is type 2 fun.
Starting point is the parking lot at Hwa-eomsa valley in the southwest. The trail is almost obnoxiously well marked, they have signs for the summit and every shelter the entire way, so I won't go crazy with the route details.
Day 1: You should aim for Yeonhacheon Shelter at the closest. I would recommend Byeoksoryeong Shelter, another few kms down the trail east. Gaia GPS maps actually have these shelters mapped out; its a good resource. Get the mileage in while you are fresh because there are tons of intermediate ups and downs on this trail.
Day 2: Make it to Jangteomok Shelter, no matter what.
Day 3: Rise early and catch the sunrise on Cheonwangbong—its the thing to do! Then summon up the motivation to make it all the way back to Byeoksoryeong, or even better, Yeonhacheon Shelter.
Day 4: Back to the car, and you are done!
I never got to complete it, because the park service closed the whole trail network as I arrived at Yeonhacheon shelter, in winter as the sun was going down. They would not let me stay and run back to my car in the morning, so they forced me to take a side trail down, leading me to a tiny little Korean mountain village in the middle of nowhere, where I was stranded in the dark with nowhere to sleep/stay. I found the village bus and eventually made it to a small town with a hotel. The website didn't update with the trail closures until they had been closed for a week ... and even then they only updated the Korean language webpage. The reason was fire hazard due to dryness (there are no open fires, smoking, or even open air stove cooking allowed in any national park in Korea ... you can only cook inside designated cooking rooms in the shelters) but yet they still close them completely down for fire hazard so be aware if you are planning for a multi-day outing.
Shared By: Nate D