치악산 – Chiaksan Mountain Hike

The summer heatwaves are dissipating and autumn is slowly settling in here in Korea. Though the leaves are clinging onto their green for now, the temperatures are dropping and the monsoon rains are moving on.

With the arrival of perfect weather, we took to Chiaksan Mountain (치악산) near Wonju for a hike on Saturday. With multiple peaks reaching over 1000m, Chiaksan has a number of great trails to offer. We headed up to the tallest peak, Birobong, a 12km round-trip hike.

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The hike starts off as an easy, winding, relatively flat path. About midway, however, the path shoots straight up into a steep ascent complete with rocks sticking out in all directions, often calling for a rope or handrail to traverse them.

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When we reached the top, a Korean woman, perhaps in her fifties looked at us in awe and said, “wow you made it to the top? And two girls too!” Indeed we did, it seems young foreigners are capable of scaling mountains just like middle-aged Koreans. Who would have known? Of course, she didn’t see us passing all the locals on the way up, nor did she see the two “girls” leading the hike.

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One of the highlights of the hike was the hungry chipmunks skittering about the top of the mountain. I brought banana muffins packed with nuts and seeds, so the munchkins were particularly interested in us. I gave a chunk of my muffin and watched the little chipmunk pick around the bread for each nut and seed.

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Also included in the course is Guryongsa Temple (구룡사) and Seryeon Falls (세렴폭포).

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We had a fantastic day ascending Birobong Peak at Chiaksan National Park in great company! I would definitely recommend taking a trip to this mountain. There’s also a campground and plenty of restaurants around, so it makes a great day or weekend trip.

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