Hiking Geumjeong-san

Autumn leaves was falling from the trees on this cloudy November day. With the shift of seasons the temperature had dropped and the temperature this Sunday morning was showing 5 deg C. But the low temperature did not seem to have scared off the locals from finding the way out in the nature. The trail was packed with Korean hikers sporting the very latest in alpine fashion, heading up the mountain.

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We picked the Geumjong fortress as our hiking destination for the day. It is one of Korea’s Historical sites and is known for some of the city’s best hiking with spectacular view overlooking the city of Busan.

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We took the subway to Beomeosa station and a short bus ride to Beomeosa temple that was our starting point for the hike. It was easy to find the bus to take as it was just to follow all the other hikers heading in the same direction. The bus was packed and sins we did not have any idea of where to get off the bus we just went off where most of the other people went off.

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Well off the bus we tried to look for any sign in English on where to go next, but there are no sign. And we did not find any showing the way to the temple so we walked up some stairs and at this point we passed a small building and spotted that it said information. We went in and asked what direction to take and if they had any maps showing the area and they had. And surprisingly they gave us one in  English. The women pointed out the direction for us to continue uphill and told us to keep on the left side of the temple.

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From Beomeosa temple we followed the river course uphill on a rocky path and ascended relatively steadily. It took us about 40 min to reach the North Gate. At this point we needed a short break and something to eat. It was quite cold with a bit of wind so all the clothes taken off during or uphill climb had to get back on to try to stay warm when not moving.

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The mountain contains a network of hiking trails and at the North gate the trails goes in different direction and this is when the map came in handy. Looking at the map we decided to follow the fortress wall to the south gate and from there descend by the cable car.

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From the North gate it was again steep uphill for a short part and from there a mix of uphill and downhill, so quite pleasant hiking. We passed several watchtowers with some spectacular view of the city along the way.

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Arriving at the different watchtower we checked on the map to located our self to make sure we were heading in the right direction.

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Geumjeong Fortress is the largest mountain fortress in South Korea and was built in 1703 by King Sukjong in response to previous Japanese and Manchu invasions. The gates and 17km of walls have been mostly restored after destruction during the Japanese occupation (1910-45). The fortified area is immense and not particularly fertile thus it has fallen into disrepair several times throughout history.

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Arriving at the South gate we followed the path to the gondola to return down from the mountain. It’s possible to walk down from the different gates but for us after hours of hiking we choose the easy way down.

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Well down we walked to the Oncheonjang Station and from there took the subway back to our hotel.

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To get to Beomeosa temple:

Take subway line 1 to Beomeosa Station. Walk to the Open air bus terminal and take Bus 90 to Beomeosa temple.

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