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Autumn in Korea: Odaesan National Park Hiking Guide

Calling all hiking enthusiasts and ‘Goblin’ Korean drama fans! Why don’t you leave Seoul and take a hike – to experience a ‘wonder-fall’ autumn at Odaesan National Park? As the largest natural woods of South Korea, Odaesan Mountain boasts thousands of native animals and plants, along with treasured Buddhist sites like Woljeongsa Temple.

The fall colors make easy hiking trails more enjoyable throughout high craggy peaks and fir tree-lined pathways. Not sure how to plan your hike within one of South Korea’s top 3 mountains for fall foliage? Don’t sweat it – KKday has your back! Read our Odaesan National Park hiker guide below, from where to camp and best spots for sightseeing to transportation.

Unleash your inner romantic while hiking in Odaesan National Park:

Odaesan National Park: Gangwon-do, South Korea (image via Shutterstock)
Odaesan National Park: Gangwon-do, South Korea (image via Shutterstock)

How to get to Odaesan National Park

Odaesan National Park is located in the central and eastern part of Gangwon-do Province and 2 – 3 hours away from Seoul.

Depart from Seoul

From wherever you are in Seoul, head to the subway Gangbyeon Station Exit 3 and 4 via Seoul Subway Line 2. Look for the Dong-Seoul Bus terminal. Hop aboard and alight at Jinbu Bus Terminal.

From the Jinbu Bus Terminal, you have 2 options: First, you can take a bus to Woljeongsa stop, located in the Minbak Village (Trip duration: 20 minutes). 

Your second option is to ride a bus to Sangwonsa Temple Bus Stop, located beyond Woljeongsa. This will take you straight to the trail (Trip duration: 50 minutes).

  • Schedule:

Dong Seoul buses depart every 10- 20 minutes between 6:00am to 12:00pm. 

The Jinbu local buses run about 12 times a day and it’s a 20-50 minute ride depending on your chosen option

  • Cost:

₩11,600 for the Dong Seoul bus ride

₩3,400 for Jinbu Terminal local bus ride

Easy option: Get round-trip transportation by booking the Odaesan National Park Day Tour

Map of Odaesan National Park (image via theworknplay)
Map of Odaesan National Park (image via theworknplay)

Where to sleep and eat

Places to stay and eat

The hiking trails (listed below) could be accomplished within the day. But for those looking to rest up in the area, we recommend staying at Jinbu near the main entrance of Odaesan. This is a township in Pyeongchang county with plenty of available hostels (check out these Airbnbs), family-owned restaurants, food stalls, and convenience stores.

Just half a kilometer south of Odaesan’s southwest ticket office, opt to stay at a ‘minbak’ village – meaning a rural area full of private short stay accommodations (Cost:₩25,000 – 35,000). The area has several tiny mom-and-pop stores with basic items.

Inside Odaesan Park, curb your hunger by visiting the Woljeongsa Temple area. Here, find Nandana Bakery and munch on tasty bread and muffins!

Camping grounds:

Camp out under the stars! (image via Shutterstock)
Camp out under the stars! (image via Shutterstock)

Like roughing it out in the woods and truly immersing yourself in nature? Here are two areas in the park where you can set up your tent:

  • Odaesan Shelter: Mid-way between Woljeongsa and Sangwonsa
  • Sogeum Service Complex: Northeast side of Odaesan

Recommended Routes in General Odaesan National Park Areas

The humidity in the area is very dry and prone to forest fires in the spring or summer seasons. Much of the forest areas are not designed for hikers and may be closed off during forest fires, so you may be limited to these options below. We recommend these 2 main hiking trails, which span from relatively easy to moderately hard.

For Beginner Hikers:

On the way to Sangwon-sa Temple (image via Shutterstock)
On the way to Sangwon-sa Temple (image via Shutterstock)

Birobong Peak Course (6.5km or 12.5km ridge route, round-trip)

Route: Sangwon-sa – Sangwang-bong – Birobong Peak

Adventure to Birobong, the highest peak in Odaesan National Park at around 1,563m above ground. Begin your trek at Sangwon-sa and climb up a steep stone path for 6.5km. Enjoy splashes of color thanks to the evergreen yew trees and yellow royal azalea blanketing stunning mountain landscapes!

Take the off-beaten path by hiking along a rugged ridge to Sangwang-bong, then back down the road and to Sangwon-sa temple.

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Duration: 3 hours round-trip (5 hours if you take the longer route), 1-day course

For Intermediate Hikers:

Sogeum-gang (image via Shutterstock)
Sogeum-gang (image via Shutterstock)

Sogeumgang Course (13.3 km)

Route: Sogeum-gang – Noin-bong Peak – Jingogae

Get ready for a difficult trail on the east side of Odaesan mountain! Make your way towards Noin-bong Peak, which reaches an elevation of 1,338 meters. Be blown away by the beauty of deep gorges, strangely shaped rocks, rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and ponds. View the impressive scenery, said to resemble a crane stretching its wings.

Along the path, encounter majestic sights like Mureung Valley, Myeonggyeongdae Post, Guryong Falls, and Gunja Falls, all capped with warm-colored fall foliage.

  • Difficulty: Moderately hard
  • Duration: 7 – 8 hours, 1-day course

Best Spots for Maple Leaves and Photography in Odaesan National Park

As you stroll the dark and dense forests and smooth stone paths, notice the romantic scenery all around you. Snap whimsical pics of carved lanterns and wishing stones scattered throughout the park. Just head out to these iconic Buddhist temples below:

Sangwonsa Temple

Sangwonsa Temple (image via Shutterstock)
Sangwonsa Temple (image via Shutterstock)

Getting to this temple requires a 2km hike on the way to Birabong Peak! But it’s all worth it to visit this colorful Buddhist temple from the Silla Period. View the sacred bronze Bell of Sangwonsa. Cherish sweeping views of the nearby Chiaksan Mountain and fall scenery from an astonishing 1,000m above ground.

Woljeongsa Temple

Woljeongsa Temple (image vie Shutterstock)
Woljeongsa Temple (image via Shutterstock)

Named after the bright, full moon, the Woljeongsa Temple complex is a national treasure you must not miss! Enter the famous octagon-shaped, nine-story pagoda and get a taste of Buddhist culture. Capture the splendor of traditional architecture featured by 60 temples, 22 pagodas, and 8 monasteries.  

Woljeongsa Fir Tree Forest Path

Woljeongsa Fir Tree Forest Path (image via Shutterstock)
Woljeongsa Fir Tree Forest Path (image via Shutterstock)

Fun fact: if you happen to know the the hit K-drama, ‘Goblin: The Great and Lonely God’, this is the place where all the magic happens; when the immortal Kim Shin realized his love for his fated bride, Eun Tak, in the midst of falling autumn leaves.

Odaesan Park during autumn (image via en Eckert, Wikimedia Commons)
Odaesan National Park during autumn (image via Ken Eckert, Wikimedia Commons)

However, even non-fans will appreciate the ethereal beauty of Odaesan National Park. Stroll through the fir tree paths and meet musk deer, turtle doves, and woodpeckers.

Best Time to Visit

Ideal months: Mid-October – Early November

Target the last two weeks of October for the peak of autumn leaves, as the spread of fall foliage moves southward to central South Korea.

Trekker Tips

Unleash your inner poet with Odaesan's captivating autumn scenery (image via Shutterstock)
Unleash your inner poet inspired by Odaesan’s captivating autumn scenery (image via Shutterstock)
  • Check the weather before you go: rainy and foggy days can make those same, easy hiking trails very slippery with low visibility!
  • Be accurate when you estimate your day climb: Take into account your hiking level, and avoid reaching nighttime during your ascent or descent from the peaks
  • Exercise caution: Forest fires are rarer in cool Autumn, but they can still happen!
  • What to wear: thermal wear and a lot of layers. Sport some long sleeves, a hiking jacket, gloves, pants, and comfy hiking boots. Why not dress up to mimic the fashion of the hit Korean drama, ‘Goblin’?
  • What to bring: bottled water, camera, cash. Don’t forget snacks to give you energy boosts!
  • Drink the mountain water from your trails; the mountain spring water from the wells will be pure and delicious

Weave your way through mystical forests filled with a rich palette of red, orange, and gold. Relive the tragic romance of Goblin and its ‘shining’ moments. Or simply get lost in the beauty of fir tree forests and Buddhist temples, enhanced by blazing fall colors. Conquer Odaesan National Park in autumn and make it your best trek in South Korea!

Enjoyed our autumn hiking series in South Korea? Then keep posted on our page for more! In the meantime, check out more links below: