Songnisan National Park

Last week I went on a hiking day trip with some friends to Songnisan National Park here in South Korea.  This was an incredible hike with well maintained trails, gorgeous scenery, challenging terrain, and a breathtaking view at the top.  We were lucky enough to have perfect weather all day with fantastic visibility!

This park covers one of central Korea’s finest scenic areas with forested mountains and rocky granite outcrops. Its name means ‘Remote from the Ordinary World Mountain’.  The large temple complex of Beopjusa at the base of the mountain dates back to AD 553, but has often been rebuilt.  The huge, 33m bronze standing Buddha weighs 160 tons and was completed in 1990 at a cost of US$4 million.  Beyond the temple, hiking trails extend up to a series of 1000m-high peaks.

There is a small tourist village just outside the entrance to the park that has a nice variety of stores, restaurants, and a few hotels.  We loaded up with some snacks and drinks before starting the hike.  Inside the park entrance is the Beopjusa Temple with a giant bronze standing Buddha, beautiful pagodas, rock carvings, and ancient relics.

From the entrance, there was almost 2 miles of paved pathway with a little cafe at the end that serves great makgeolli.  Even if you can't or don't want to hike up the mountain, this paved walk and the temple still make it a great place to visit.  When the path changed to dirt, the hike turned into a challenging uphill workout.  There were many steps carved into the rock and some staircases and railings as well.

Hiking under some fun rock formations!

Amazing views!

With my hiking partners :)

Stone carvings at a mountain-top temple

We walked past these rocks a couple times before realizing they were carved into a turtle and a dragon!

Elevation marker at the top of the peak: 1,058m

I have an awesome app on my iPhone called 360 Panorama that records the 360 view all around you.  The top of this peak was the perfect place to use it!

Click on this picture for an interactive 360 view!

Flat view:

"Getting to the top is optional.  Getting down is mandatory."
~Ed Viesturs

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