Last weekend I did what I vowed never to do again and I hiked Dinosaur Ridge, or as locals call it, Gongryong Ridge Seorak Mountain! Ronda had never been on the trail so we joined Bangawoyo Tours for a weekend excursion to Seoraksan National Park. We started our 15 hour trek with about 15 other crazy people just as keen on climbing the ridge-line for some awesome views.
Getting to Seoraksan National Park from Seoul
Go to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Gangbyeon Station of Seoul Subway Line No.2, Exit 4)
Take a bus bound for Sokcho
First bus at 06:25, last bus at 23:00 ~ Runs 49 times daily
~3 hour busride
Take a taxi or local bus 7 or 7-1 to Seoraksan National Park
This time I led the group on a loop from the main entrance past the giant Buddha towards Biseondae. We hung a right towards Geumganggul cave to catch sunrise from the first ridge line. Its name escapes me but I always remember it as Dinosaur Ridge’s friendly younger cousin.
Following the loop I told everyone “go straight or left and you can’t get lost.” Truth is Dinosaur Ridge is a pretty straight forward trail. Its just incredibly grueling with well over 10,000 ft of elevation change along the 20 km hike.
We posed for regular pictures and Ronda sported the GoPro as we both traded off our favorite Nikon. If you’re heading on the trail pack light! We opted to skip extra lenses and shared the camera and were happy to keep our packs to a minimum.
Places to visit in South Korea
The autumn views from the ridge line looking down onto the colorful valley below are simply amazing but green pines liter the ridge hinting at the coming winter. Fall colors are absent this high up either from wind or just the altitude but the gigantic rock formations create an awe inspiring view that has convinced me to come back to this hellish trail again and again.
I recommend hiking Dinosaur Ridge in spring if you want to see the ridge at its peak but then you’ll miss the fall colors below. Maybe you should just hike it three times like I did 😉
Gongryong Ridge Seorak Mountain
The series of 8 or so peaks bring you up and down about 20 different rope courses and along a few cliffs. Even though Dinosaur Ridge itself is only about 5km long but will take 4 or 5 hours to traverse you’ll spend another 3 or 4 hours getting there and back.
There’s no reliable water along the trail so I recommend bringing 2L per person!
Climbing along we continually felt in awe of our surroundings. Mountains for as far as the eye can see in every direction were a welcome sight after a grueling work week in Seoul, the world’s 3rd largest city. Along the way you’ll find dozens of Koreans hiking in full regalia. When we sat for a picnic lunch (provided by Bangawoyo Tours) the locals insisted we eat with them and offered us a few snacks and rice cakes!
Trekking in South Korea
Halfway through the ridge your legs will want to give out on you. Take a scenic break, sretch or take a nature nap to rejuvenate them because the views are well worth the effort!
Truth is I almost didn’t join this trek with my masters classes keeping my weeks jam packed but it turns out mountain air and a day immersed in nature were just what I needed to decompress.
After hiking Dinosaur Ridge you can keep climbing towards Daecheongbang, the 3rd highest peak in Korea or turn back towards the main gate like we did. Hiking through Cheonbuldong Valley is always amazing but especially serene in the fall. Lucky for us the fall colors missing in the mountaintops were at their peak down here in the valley.
South Korea Travel Guide
Hiking in Seoraksan National Park
Although the trail was finally sloping downwards the final 3 hours along the valley felt like the worst part of this trail. Our knees buckled and our muscles ached from a full day of climbing. Watching the the sun rise and set in the same day gives you a different perspective on things but mostly makes you want to take a nap!
As the sun finally went behind the mountains behind us we could only think of Korean pancakes and rice wine waiting for us at the restaurants near the entrance. It was another successful hike and beautiful day in the mountains. Seoraksan never fails to impress me even if I’ve been there practically a dozen times already!
South Korea Tourist Attractions
I can’t wait to join Bangawoyo Tours for another fall trip to Naejangsan National Park in 2 weeks. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for upcoming events! I doubt he’ll go as all out on a shorter trek but the sandwiches, granola bars, candy bars and gimbap for every hiker were the saving grace for many of us on this long trek.