K-Pop, Korean skincare, Korean barbecue… these are some of the things that South Korea is known for. But in reality, it has more to offer than meets the eye. Seoul, in particular, is slowly unraveling itself to reveal a city that is filled with diversity. From a modern metropolis to a natural gem, it has everything you need to fill your time when it comes to making the most of your South Korean adventure. It is also emerging as a family-friendly destination that has a variety of sights and activities to enjoy for all kinds of family – from those looking for an idyllic escape or ones that seek out adventure.
From mountains to national parks and various walking trails, hiking is a four-season activity in South Korea. Immerse in its natural beauty when you go on leisurely walks with the whole family. Below is a list of different hiking and walking trails worth exploring when you are in Seoul. Take note of the features for each trail so you can plan accordingly when you decide to go on a hiking or walking adventure with your kids!
Cheonggyesan Trail (Image by KoreaToDo)
1. Cheonggyesan Mountain
This hiking trail in Seoul is less popular as compared to its more famous cousin – Bukhansan Mountains. But it is popular among local hikers. If you want to take your family hiking into a more quiet and serene trail, then you will definitely prefer this one. It sits on the southeast portion of Seoul close to the border of Bundang-gu and Seocho-gu. Aside from the promising scenery that awaits you when you summit this trail is that it is quite flexible. There is an easy trail that you can follow with built-in stairs, which is great for smaller kids or older folks. But if you want a bit of a challenge, there is also a trail without stairs.
The most popular trail to reach the summit of this mountain is approximately 2 miles long. The one-way hike can be completed up to 2 hours, depending on your pace. You will start the hike from the Weonteogol entrance wherein you will pass by the Weonteogol spring until you reach a flat resting area that has been nicknamed Heliport. If you do not rest in that area, you can proceed towards following the trail until you reach the peak of Maebong. Once at the top, you will be able to relish the view of the metropolitan area. This is a beautiful site to enjoy, especially when there is no smog during your visit.
Since there are many trails to choose from, you can plan your hike depending on what you want to see. You can even get the kids involved in planning so that it helps to build up their excitement. Some of the trails enable you to enjoy views of small valleys and rocky cliffs. Meanwhile, there are also trails that enable you to pass through a dense forest or those that will let you pass temples and pagodas. Regardless of which route you choose, you will have a unique experience and different sights to see.
There are plenty of rest areas that dot each trail. There are benches and resting pagodas, too. If your muscles are tired, you may even use the calisthenics equipment you find along the way. There are several merchants that you can pass at various points of the trail, which will give you the chance to buy some snacks or drinks to fuel you for the rest of your hike. You can also use the restroom if you need to. There are no drinking fountains along this trail so make sure to bring enough water, especially for the kids.
How to get to this trail?
To embark on this hiking trail, you can get to the park via public transportation. You can take the Yangjae Station Line 3 and leave via exit 10. Ride Bus number 4432 and alight at the Weonteogol stop. Once there, you must walk via the underpass and you will find the park entrance. It is easy to spot because you will find plenty of hikers donning brightly colored gear.
2. Bukhansan, Seoul
No list of hiking trails in Seoul is complete without including Bukhansan. It is easily one of the most popular hiking trails in and around Seoul. It is also consistently ranked as one of the best trails in the city in terms of picturesque views. Bukhasan is known as “Big Mountain of the North” and here you will find Baegundae Peak, which is the second-highest peak in Seoul.
As a testament to the popularity of this national park, it once made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the national park with the greatest number of visitors per square foot. On average, this park is visited by 5 million tourists. Thus, you won’t be disappointed with the views that you will find along this trail – even your kids will enjoy it. After all, 5 million people cannot be wrong.
Speaking of kids, they will be in awe by the gorgeous mini-falls that are found within the national park when you hike during spring or autumn. Another notable attraction is Munsusa, which is a temple inside a cave. If you have a few days to explore Seoul and you have to choose just one trail to hike with your kids, make it this one. Toilets are far and few in between, but you won’t find any drinking fountains along this trail so make sure you pack enough water.
How to get to this trail?
To reach this trail, you must take the Seoul Subway Line 4 and head to Gireum Station. Once you reach the station, choose Exit 3 and you will find the entrance to the national park.
3. Daemosan, Seoul
This is an easy and well-marked trail that is considered as one of the best kid-friendly and beginner trails to hike in the city. It takes approximately an hour to reach the summit of this peak, which makes it an ideal destination for day trip activities with the whole family. Since this is a short hike, many locals like to go to this peak as part of their morning workout routine. When you visit during a clear day, you will be treated to a spectacular view of the Gangnam skyline. You can also spot the Namsan Tower, Seoul Sports Complex, and Lotte World Tower from the top. It is a great spot to take your kids to if you want to see almost all of the major landmarks of Seoul from a different perspective.
This is a great easy hike to conquer for anyone who wants to enjoy the spectacular views listed above. But for anyone looking for a challenge, you can continue on the trail to conquer the next mountain – Gyeryongsan. This will add approximately another 1.8 km to your hike. But if hiking during the rainy season, it is best to avoid this trail because the rain can turn the hiking path into a muddy trail. But on a sunny day, Daemosan is the perfect amount of challenge and the right balance of rewarding scenic views that the whole family will love.
If you or your kids get thirsty during the hike, you will find plenty of freshwater drinking spots. There are also some areas wherein you can rest before you resume your hike.
How to get to this trail?
This trail is located in Irwon 2(i)-dong, Seoul, South Korea. To get here, you must travel via Seoul Subway Line 3 to Irwon Station. Take Exit 5.
Inwangsan (Image by Visit Korea)
4. Inwangsan, Seoul
When it comes to easy hikes that are kid-friendly, you will find a few options in Seoul. But among those that are highly recommended is Inwangsan. This easy hike will take you to a height of 338 meters above sea level. Your kids will be enthralled by the view of the city from this viewpoint, which is probably the highlight of this trail. You can also see Namsan Tower once you reach the peak of this trail.
As you embark on this trail, you will be able to pass a wide range of flora and fauna. But one of the coolest attractions you will encounter is the ancient city wall. When you visit on a sunny day, you will be able to view the “Blue House” – the residence of the Korean President – in all its glory.
This is not a very high trail and that is well-marked, so it is safe for the family, and especially for the kids. Once you reach the peak, you can descend on the other side and follow the ancient city wall. The best part is that this trail costs nothing – it is absolutely free to enjoy the spectacular view from above the peak!
There are no shops, toilets, or drinking fountains along the way. Make sure that you are well prepared with enough water and some snacks.
How to get to this trail?
The trail is easy to get to as it is right in the middle of Seoul. You can get here via metro or bus. Take Line 3 (orange line) on the Metro and alight at the Gyeongbokgung Station. Take Exit 3 and go to the bus stop on the right (after Starbucks). Choose any of the following buses: 7212, 1020, or 7022. Within 10 minutes, you will reach Jahamun stop. Walk towards the museum and continue walking for the next 600 meters until you reach a wooden staircase up to the fortress wall.
Yongmasan Waterfall Park
5. Yongmasan, Seoul
The Yongmasan trail is popular among locals, particularly those looking for an easy and quick workout. It is also popular among families that want to treat their kids to a scenic view throughout the hike. The great thing about Yongmasan is that you do not have to wait to reach the peak in order to be treated to great views.
At 348 meters, the Yongmasan Mountain can be conquered in 2-3 hours, depending on how slow or fast you go. It is completely fine if you take a bit longer as kids might want to wander a bit and explore the natural beauty along the trail. This hike is very well-maintained and clean, so you probably would not mind it even if the trail can get a bit crowded – it’s popular after all!
There are various lookout points along different parts of the trail. Make sure you stop at a few of those to capture photos to use as keepsake for the whole family to enjoy later! You can also find a makeshift bar at the summit, so it is the perfect spot to recover with a drink before you head back down the trail. For kids, they can use this opportunity to rest or head to the restroom.
This hiking trail is connected to the Yongmasan Waterfall Park. If you have more energy left, and if your kids are keen, you can visit the park to marvel at the largest man-made waterfall in Asia! Another park that you can opt to go from this trail is the Yongmasan Sagajeong Park, which you will find the entrance to at the Myeonmok Drinking Well. There are plenty of facilities that your kids will enjoy here such as a playground and picnic areas.
This particular trail does not have any toilets, so make sure you control your water intake. And speaking of water, there are no drinking fountains along the trail, so make sure you carry enough for the hike.
How to get to this trail?
To get to this trail, you can take the Seoul Subway Line 7 and alight at the Yongmasan Station. Take Exit 2.
Seoul never fails to surprise those who venture to visit it! With the abundance of hiking and walking trails, there is simply no excuse to not get out there and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Even your kids will be in for a treat as you can see a variety of landscapes and wildlife along each trail. Since there are plenty of easy hikes, even stroller-friendly ones, you can let everyone in the family experience the true beauty of Seoul.