West Entrance to Baegundae Peak
(Bukhansan National Park)
This is the alpha hike of Seoul. The route from Bukhansan National Park's west entrance to the top of Baegundae is arguably the most popular hike in Seoul. As such, on a beautiful afternoon, it will seem like half of Seoul is hiking along with you if you choose to do the hike. However, it is a route worth hiking. It is a quintessential Seoul hike that must be checked off the list of any hiker in Seoul..
The Scouting Report
Bukhansan National Park has a handful of peaks, with Baegundae being its highest and most well known. The hike to the top is tough, yet rewarding. The landscape changes subtly throughout the hike, and each section offers its own flavor. Standing at 836.5 meters, the view from Baegundae's summit is breathtaking (and at times a little scary).
You will find a little bit of everything here: a combination of concrete and dirt paths, obstacles such as large and small stones, plenty of rocky steps, and various types of stairs. Flip-flops and sandals are not recommended. Hiking shoes would be your best option. If you have a decent pair of sneakers, you could get away with that.
The beginning of the route isn't too bad. It's merely a slight incline along a well-trafficked pathway. However, as the hike goes on, it gets tougher. Towards the end, you need to use ropes (already anchored in place) to pull yourself up certain pitches.
As far as Seoul hikes are concerned, on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult hike, it carries a 4 rating.
How To Get There
Make your way to Gupabal Station (구파발역) on Line 3. Go out exit 1. Make a u-turn and find the nearby bus stop.
You should see plenty of hikers and a few vendors selling hiking-related goods here. There are three buses that stop at this bus stop: 34, 704, and 8774. Take any of these buses to Bukhansanseong Ipgu (12-233). It will be about 10 stops away. Don't worry about missing it. The horde of hikers you will be riding the bus with will also get off here.
What signs am I looking for?
For the majority of the hike, you will follow signs that read Baegundae (Peak). The only exception is at the beginning, when you will follow a sign reading Nature Interpretive Trail. On the way back, follow signs reading Bukhansanseong Park Information Center.
From the bus stop, follow the crowd of hikers. Look for a sign that says Bukhansan National Park
Walk down the street that is lined with vendors selling hiking wares and food. There are various restaurants, convenience stores, cafes, and hiking equipment shops. This is a good area in which to load up on either food or water.
Keep walking straight until you reach a dead-end and a mountain-shaped Bukhansan National Park sign. Go left.
After passing a park office, you will have to deal with the most confusing part of the hike. You will see multiple signs for Baegundae Peak. While you can follow any of these routes, The Seoul Stop recommends that you take the more isolated path. Follow the sign reading Nature Interpretive Trail. It is an easy, natural 600 meter path that eventually reconnects with the main path.
Follow the path you are on. Look for Daeseomun, the Great West Gate. It is one of 16 sixteen fortress gates scattered around Bukhansan.
Once you reach a sign explaining Bukhansanseong (Bukhansan's fortress), then the real part of your hike begins. The stairs are truly symbolic of what's to come, so get ready. No bathrooms beyond this point.
One nice thing about this part of the hike is that it has more natural cover. The path follows a stream bed while weaving through trees and lots of stones.
Once you pass through Baek-wun Bong-'am-mun (one of the fortress's secret gates), it's time to pull your socks up and tighten your laces. From here on out, it's a steep incline that necessitates using ropes.
At the peak, the view is truly majestic. You are surrounded by multiple peaks, mountains, and one of the largest cities in the world. However, it can get a little windy, so hold onto your hat and cellphone....or whichever one you want to keep more.
If you take the same route to and from the peak, it should take you anywhere from 3.5 to 5 hours.
There is a bounty of awesome mountain peaks in Bukhansan National Park. It is well worth the effort to get off the popular trails and explore the park Seoul is so fortunate to have so close by
The street leading into Bukhansan NP from the bus stop has plenty of restaurants and cafes. Try selecting one of the restaurants that serve food outside.
Elsewhere on the Web
Extra Tips and Info
- Pick up some kimbab (김밥) from one of the street vendors. It is only 2,000 won and makes for a great snack while hiking.
- If you are looking for a bank machine, there is one inside of CVU (the purple convenience store).
- There is an excess of hiking stores here. If you forget any hiking gear, you should easily be able to find what you need.
- This trail is very popular. Hence, it draws a large crowd. If you are looking to avoid the crowd, try to begin your hike by 8:00 a.m. at the latest.
To see more photos of the hike to Baegundae in Bukhansan National park, check out the Bukhansan photo album. The pictures appear in the same order as you would see them on the hike. So, if you would like a preview of what the hike looks like, take a look through our album, starting from picture one.
* * * * *
Originally posted January 17, 2015
Updated November 27, 2015