Inwangsan (Muakje Station to the Peak)
Inwangsan has a very distinct feel relative to other mountains in Seoul. Military surveillance posts, a fortress-like wall, mountain dwellers, views of major landmarks and graffiti all contribute to the uniqueness of Inwangsan.
The Scouting Report
This route to the top of Inwangsan is unique thanks to the starting point. Most people who choose to hike Inwangsan do so from more popular trailheads. If you are wanting to see at least a little of Inwangsan that most people don't see, follow the directions below.
Concrete, dirt paths, large stones, and various types of stairs. Most pairs of feet would prefer hiking shoes or a sturdy pair of runners.
(1=easy, 5=difficult): 3
How To Get There
Inwangsan is easily accessible by subway.
Line 3 - Muakjae Station 무악재역:
-Come out of exit 2 and walk 740 meters until you reach a set of wooden stairs on your left. You will know you are close to the stairs once you pass a traffic sign that reads, ‘Welcome to Jongno.’ Once up the brown stairs, follow signs for Inwangsa Temple.
This route starts you off through Muakjae Park as it takes you through the park to get to the mountain. This is a nice route as it sees few people and is rather scenic.
Start from the wooden stairs mentioned above. Go up the wooden stairs and you’ll reach a set of benches. Continue up the stairs until you reach a set of yellow benches. Take the stairs to the right. If you go up the stairs to the left there is a ‘Hangtime’ style basketball court. After taking the stairs to the right you’ll reach a concrete wall. Take a right and you’ll pass a bathroom, badminton court, and exercise machines. After the exercise machines, take the dirt stairs to your right going downhill.
You could go left and check out a few cultural sites (a carved Buddha, large boulder, and a shrine). Once the dirt stairs end you’ll go up six concrete steps. Stick to your right and follow signs for Inwangsa Temple.
Once the light red path ends, look to your left. The entrance to Inwangsan is up the hill. Walk uphill towards the bathroom and wooden stairs. However, don’t go up the wooden stairs. Walk towards the graffiti and take the stairs to your right. After walking through a small neighborhood, pass a small bell and go up some narrow steps. You will reach a Buddhist temple. Walk past the temple and you will reach two sets of stairs. To continue the hike on Inwangsan, you need to take the lower set of stairs on your right.
However, take a quick detour to take a look at Seonbawi. You can reach Seonbawi by taking the stairs on your left. Seonbawi means ‘Zen rock’ and it is supposed to resemble a monk. It looks very unique and also has some great art at its base.
Now back to the hike. Once you go up the stairs to your right, you need to pass a green fence. There may be a vendor trying to sell you something. Walk past the green fence and continue up the narrow stone stairs.
The real part of the hike now begins. Walk for 100 meters until you reach a natural spring. There are three paths. You can go right, center, or left. Take the stairs/path to the right of the natural spring. It will be a little steep. Continue on this path for 50 meters. After 50 meters you will see a colorful umbrella. You don’t want to go towards the umbrella. Take a right, go down the wooden stairs, and follow the path. You should pass a red bin. Go up the next set of stairs, and the wall should come into view.
You will reach a dirt path. Take a right. The dirt path follows the wall. You will see some stairs that lead towards the wall and a military lookout. This is when you will also start seeing a lot more hikers as all the paths converge. Take a left and follow the wall until you reach the top. You will reach what you think is the peak. It is just an initial look-out with a military installation. Keep going. You can do it! Walk for another 500 meters and you will reach the peak. Congratulations!
At a brisk pace, you could do this whole hike in two hours (including the walk from Muakjae station). At a leisurely pace, it will take you two and a half to three and a half hours.
Things To Consider
- There is only one natural spring along this route. Pack water accordingly.
- There are a number of mountain dwellings here. No need to feel in danger as there is a large military presence. It is a rather populated mountain.
- Speaking of military presence: Be careful where you aim your camera once you reach the top. There are ‘sensitive sights’ which cannot be compromised. (In layman's terms: "There are places where photography is prohibited.")
- This mountain is frequented quite a bit. I’d recommend starting your hike in the morning.
Elsewhere on the Web
- Seoul Scout: Inwangsan by - The Seoul Stop
- Inwangsan by - Visit Korea
- Inwangsan: A Hike Like None Other - by The Korea Blog
- Inwangsan (Mt.) - by Visit Seoul
- Inwangsan 인왕산 - by Hiking Hub Korea
- Peace and Nature in the Heart of Seoul: Hiking Inwangsan Mountain - by Around The World In KT Days
- Hiking Mt. Inwangsan and Seoul's Old Fortress Walls - by Travel Caffeine
- Hiking and "Eye Shopping" in Seoul - Inwangsan and Insadong - by Blood, rice and noodles
- Seoul's Inwang-san - by San-Shin.net
- Day 20: Attempting to Climb Mt. Inwangsan via the Shamanist Hillside Walk - by 화이팅 hwaiting andy
- Mt. Inwangsan and Beyond - by The Marmot's Hole
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
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Originally posted November 7, 2014
Updated November 21, 2015