Hiking Oseosan Mountain in Korea

South Korea is nearly 70 percent covered with mountainous land, making it a heavenly place for hiking enthusiasts. While I can see the benefits of getting away from the city and reconnecting with nature through hiking, I haven’t really been a fan of this outdoor activity.

For me, hiking has always been a strenuous pastime done only on school or work outings with a group of people and hundreds of others on the same trail.

A recent solo trip to Oseosan Mountain (오서산), however, completely changed my mind about hiking. This trip, unlike others before, was based solely on my own schedule and my own walking pace. When I was out of breath, I could rest as often and as much as I wanted. If I saw a beautiful landscape, I allowed myself to stop and enjoy it for as long as I wanted. This trip was about the trip, not about reaching the top of the mountain.

You will find Oseosan Mountain in Boryeong, just a 90-minute drive from Humphreys Camp. The mountain is 91 meters high, making it the tallest mountain on the west coast of Chungcheognam-do. For this reason, Oseosan Mountain is known to fishermen as the “Lighthouse of the West Sea”. For hikers, that means amazing ocean views from the top.

I started my expedition from the parking lot of the Oseosan Recreational Forest (오서산 자연 휴양림). From there the summit is an easy 2.5 mile hike. If you want more nature, I suggest starting from the parking lot near Myeongdae Swamp (명대 소류지) which adds another kilometer to your hike and takes you through Myeongdae Valley. As an added bonus, parking at Myeongdae Marsh Road is free and you will avoid 3,000 won ($ 2.5) for parking and 1,000 won for entry into the recreational forest.

There are other hiking trails that you can choose from depending on your experience and how much time you want to spend in the area.

Beginners prefer to start at the Sangdam parking lot (오서산 공영 주차장) on the north side of the mountain. On the west side of the mountain, visitors can park at the Seongyeon Parking Lot (성연 주차장) near Seongyeon Reservoir and choose from three different trails to reach the top in a 2-3km hike.

Alternatively, you can climb a little higher to the historic Jeongamsa Temple (정암사) and start from there while dramatically reducing your climbing time.

Starting from the temple, you will reach the top in about two kilometers. Don’t forget to stop halfway at the bridge observatory to take some great photos.

This trail begins with a 1,600-step ascent from Jeongamsa Temple to the observatory, but it’s a good choice if you don’t want to struggle to get to the top.

I started my hike from the recreational forest parking lot and after a while I reached my first stop at Woljeongsa temple (월정사). This peaceful and tiny preserved temple was a great place to take photos, enjoy the scenery, and relax, so I hung out around for a good hour before continuing my hike.

Although this path is rated as easy, there were still some rough areas with slippery rocks that I had to walk through. When I reached the halfway point, I took another break to catch my breath and drink some water. Even though I hadn’t made that much trip, when I looked behind me at all the greenery beyond, it was as if I had already reached the top.

That’s when I thought, “How much higher do I have to climb?” But then I noticed the relay station in the distance and was instantly relieved to be almost at the top.

When I reached the relay station, a cluster of dazzling silver grasses along the ridge in front of me unfolded. The spectacular 740-meter-long reed forest towards the northern observatory is the highest point of Mount Oseosan in autumn. The fall blue sky and scenic silvery grass reflected in the sunlight were great rewards for the hike. The silvery grass of Mount Oseosan peaks from October and lasts until early November.

Upon reaching the top I saw many backpackers coming and going. They seemed to be looking for a place to spend the night. As for me, I had reached the top, although I don’t consider myself a hiker! From there, I was treated to a bird’s eye view of Boryeong Town, including Daecheon Port, Deongyeon Reservoir, Boryeong Dam, Daecheon Port, and Daecheon Beach.

The feeling of relief was short lived as I then realized that I had to come back down. Although it took me an hour and 40 minutes to go up, it took almost an hour to come back down otherwise. Going down was a bit more difficult than going up due to the pressure on my knees, and I had to hurry down the mountain before it got dark. But thanks to the knee bandage and climbing poles, I got off without a hitch.

I can’t even remember the last time I went for a hike but this time has been such a rewarding experience I might try another trail or mountain again very soon. Oseosan Mountain is definitely the one I would recommend for avid hikers and nature lovers, or even novices like me.

ADDRESS

Sangdam car park (오서산 공영 주차장)

홍성군 광천읍 오서 길 351 번길 8-10 (KOR), 8-10,

Oseo-gil 351beon-gil, Gwangcheon-eup, Hongseong-gun, Chungcheongnam-do (ENG)

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Jeongamsa temple(정암사)

충남 홍성군 광천읍 오서 길 625 (KOR), 625, Oseo-gil, Gwangcheon-eup, Hongseong-gun, Chungcheongnam-do (ENG)

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Myeongdae Parking Lot (명대 주차장)

충남 보령시 청라면 오서산 길 447 (KOR), 447, Oseosan-gil, Cheongna-myeon, Boryeong-si (ANG)

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Oseosan Recreational Forest(오서산 자연 휴양림)

충남 보령시 청라면 오서산 길 531 (KOR), 531, Oseosan-gil, Cheongna-myeon, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do (ENG)

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Snack at Woljeongsa temple

What’s your favorite food or snack to take on a hike? Probably one of the best foods to eat while hiking in Korea is the portable kimbap which you can easily get wherever you go.

The mistake I made on the Oseosan Mountain day trip was to hike without bringing any snacks. On the way to the mountain, I came across some convenience stores near a small village, but ignored them because I thought the mountain would have shops with snacks and food. However, the mountain is so remote that it does not have any convenience stores.

Although there is a small store near the natural forest parking lot that sells ice cream and instant noodles, they did not have an electronic payment machine. I started climbing without lunch because I had no cash, only a credit card.

The mountain was a bit rocky which made the exhaust more forceful than expected. As soon as I got to the foot of the mountain, I was already hungry and ready to eat.

Just in time, I was able to arrive at a small temple selling food. Woljeongsa (월정사) is a humble temple that offers limited snack and food options for hikers.

They have fried greens, acorn jelly, Korean acorn-based pancakes, and makgeolli on the menu. I settled into the outdoor dining room where you can enjoy the view of the surrounding forest and opted for an acorn pancake for 10,000 won. Although a bit pricey for a pancake, the dish was tasty and made me feel full, and it was a delicious dining experience with an amazing view of the forest.

ADDRESS: 충남 보령시 청라면 오서산 길 549 (KOR)

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HOURS: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Closed on Tuesdays)

TELEPHONE: 041-935-9539,


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