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Hiking: Gwanaksan (Gwanak Mountain)

This amazing mountain outside Seoul (and near to my hometown of Suwon) is a great day hike. I first read about it on the marvelous blog Discovering Korea, and wanted to do my first real hike since arriving in Korea. Unfortunately, the directions given by that blog were unhelpful (“Take subway line 4 to Gwacheon Station and head in the direction of the Gwanaksan trail”). When I arrived on the subway, I surfaced in Gwacheon and immediately got lost. Once I figured out where I was, I had lost thirty minutes and realized I was still a 2 km away from the trailhead.

Fear not, I found the mountain and an easy route to hiking bliss so that it will be easier for you.

Take subway line 4 toward Oido from Seoul Station (you can also transfer from Line 1, 7, 2, or 6).

Get off at Gwacheon Station, and walk toward Exit #2. Go up the escalator and out the exit. Stay on that side of the street and go straight ahead to the second crosswalk on the left.

Cross the street, and continue to the next intersection. You will see a brown sign that points down the street to the left, and says in English that Gwanaksan is 1 Km away. Turn down the street and walk until the next intersection, where there is another sign. There is a Paris Baguette that you will pass once you cross the street. 

You will enter a school zone where there are pictures on a fence from a long time ago. Continue straight ahead to another intersection.

You can see another brown sign, a little bit smaller this time. Turn left and head up the street. You will cross a bridge over a stream and Gwae-Cheon Presbyterian Church (which is really more of a complex) on the left. The road wanders for about .5 Km through a residential area.

If all else fails, follow the people who appear to be outfitted for an excursion to Everest. They know where they are going.

You will pass a little mom and pop store with a big sign for a toilet on the right, and almost immediately after that you will arrive at the trailhead. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the helpful sign showing you how to stretch before you partake of the hike.

Turn right and follow the trail past the temple on the right and continue past the wood sculpture shop. You will pass several Makeolli/fruit vendors and eventually you’ll see a blue sign pointing to the way up the mountain, and you want to go toward Yonjudae. Enjoy your hike!

7 comments on “Hiking: Gwanaksan (Gwanak Mountain)

  1. Really informative post! Pictures will definitely help with getting around the mountain.

    I wrote a post bout Korea as well and do give me some feedback if you could!! thanks!

  2. Thanks for the detailed directions, I’m going to be doing Gwanaksan soon. From the pictures I’ve seen of it, it’s a cool hike. Lots of scrambling up rocks. I can’t wait!

  3. Gabi says:

    Hi there! Thank you for the interesting blog. I’m planning on going to Gwanaksan this weekend and I’m wondering whether it is possible to park a car somewhere close to the trailhead. Maybe even on the SNU campus? Did you notice any car parks during your hike there? The Gwanak-gu website says there are parking facilities, but it doesn’t specify where they are…

  4. Thanks for this detailed guide to Gwanaksan. Despite the significant lack of people dressed for an excursion to Everest when I went (it was quite early morning) your directions were perfectly detailed that I was able to find the mountain and had a wonderful hike, so thank you!

    1. Coleen says:

      Happy to help! I miss that hike.

  5. conniepg13 says:

    How long is hike to Yeonjuam and back to the exit? I want to do this hike before heading to the airport, but I’m worried I may not have enough time.


    1. Coleen says:

      A long time. Five hours or so? I did this hike five years ago but I wouldn’t do a hike on a day you have a date at the airport.

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