Ansan (Waterfall to Peak)
Tucked away in northwest Seoul, there is an unassuming mountain--Ansan. Not too rigorous and not too far from central Seoul, it is ideal for those looking for a nice hike within the city limits.
Ansan attracts fewer hikers than the big draws like Bukhansan and Namsan, yet it still offers a great view of Seoul. You rarely have to stand along a throng of hikers to savor the skyline of Seoul from the top of Ansan.
The Scouting Report
Hiking on Ansan is typically not a strenuous affair. It has plenty of well-marked trails that lead up and around the mountain. No technical skill is needed to enjoy this place. And as long as you don't cross any military boundaries--there are a few--there are plenty of spots on Ansan to enjoy.
This particular route will take you up and down concrete and wooden steps. The majority of trail is a dirt path which goes around and over stones of varying sizes.
You don't need any fancy footwear for this hike. Just a normal pair of sneakers should suffice. In fact, many people tramp around on the mountain in their flip-flops.
(1=easy, 5=difficult): 2
-It is a little harder than a 1, and a little easier than a 3.
How To Get There
One of the draws of taking this particular route up the mountain is the picturesque starting point. To get to the starting point, you first need to find yourself to Dongshin Hospital (도신 병원) in Hongeun-dong (홍은동).
The easiest way to get to Dongshin Hospital is by taking a taxi from either Hongje Station (홍제역) on Line 3 or from Sinchon Station (신촌역) on Line 2. If you would rather take a bus, then either 7021 from Hongje Station or 110A from Sinchon Station is an option.
Once at the hospital, walk behind it and towards the mountain. You should be able to find yourself to Hongje Stream (홍재천) easily enough (about a minute's walk). Before you will be a waterfall which flows throughout many of the warmer months. When facing the waterfall, look to the right for a stepping stone bridge. This is where your hike begins.
Starting from the stone bridge, just follow the signs for An San Ja Rak Gil (안산 자락길). You will encounter a tranquil watermill where you'll begin your ascent up steps that lead you past a pleasant herb garden.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you can either cross the road and continue up, or you can take a slight detour and enjoy a small pond fed by a cascading stream.
To get to the pond, go left. Continue along the wooden path while veering right when you get to a fork in the trail. The pond, or An San Embarkment, is merely a short stroll beyond the fork. Enjoy the scene. Relax and take a drink (though, not from the pond).
Go to the right of the pond and follow the trail up the mountainside. Once you reach the road, follow it to your left. Not too much later, the road will end and you will be given another choice of routes.
At this point, there are quite frankly several options--all of them good. If your main objective is to reach the top, then just follow this general rule of thumb: keep going up.
Worried about choosing the wrong way? Well, there are several trails that wind around the mountain. While it is fun to explore them all, don't get sidetracked. If you find yourself going downhill at any point, turn around. Retrace your steps to where you picked the trail and go the other way.
Many of the trails that make their way up the peak from this side of the mountain converge at a common resting spot just below the peak. There are a number of exercise machines at this resting spot along with a natural spring. Refill your water bottle if needed. The water is safe and delicious. Take a minute to recharge your batteries before you tackle the steepest section of this route.
Make your way up the annoying mini switchbacks. After a final push up some steps, you will find yourself at a helicopter pad, a relic from the Korean War. Enjoy the novelty, but don't pause too long. You are too near your destination. If you glance to your left, you can see the lookout post.
Climb those steps and enjoy the view of Seoul. Congratulations, you did it! The Seoul Stop always knew you could...never doubted it for a second.
Without stopping or resting, you could do this hike in under an hour. At a leisurely pace, budget approximately 2-3 hours.
Not interested in going to the top of Ansan? Looking for something a little less taxing. Take a very leisurely stroll around Ansan on the Jarak-gill boardwalk.
Inwangsan: Muakje Station to Peak
Enjoy a mountain that has plenty to offer. This route takes you past murals, a temple, military posts, and plenty of views of the surrounding areas.
After topping out and taking in the view, reward yourself with a nice drink or meal. Yeonhui-dong is just down the street from where you began the hike.
Elsewhere on the Web
Extra Tips and Info
- If you are a fan of badminton, there are some great courts scattered around the mountain. The courts are positioned in ways that minimize the wind, so conditions are ideal.
- There are a few natural springs scattered around the mountain, so you don’t need to go crazy on the water.
- If you are a fan of cherry blossoms, Ansan is a great spot to check them out. Near the herb garden, they put up a lot of lanterns (around April) and it makes for a great sight during the day and night. Great cherry blossoms, without the crowds!
- At the beginning of the hike, near the waterfall, there are loudspeakers spread about that blend in with the environment. A variety of music is played from these speakers. Sometimes you may get classical music, sometimes traditional Korean music, and sometimes popular music like The Beatles or Jason Mraz
* * * * * * * * * *
Originally posted December 12, 2014
Updated November 21, 2015