Welcome to Chiaksan Mountain Park, a hidden gem nestled in South Korea's enchanting countryside. This natural sanctuary, with its diverse ecosystems and vibrant wildlife, invites nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers for an unforgettable journey into the heart of South Korea's wilderness.
Named 'Chiaksan', meaning 'Pheasant Mountain', the park is home to the majestic Chiaksan Mountain, a breathtaking peak rising to a height of 1,288 meters.
Carved by millennia of wind and rain, its rugged terrain, decorated with deep valleys and towering cliffs, offers scenic trails that meander through pristine forests, cascading waterfalls, and serene streams.
When you traverse its paths, you'll witness the spectacular color palette of the changing seasons, from the lush greens of spring, vibrant autumn foliage, to the snow-draped winter landscapes. Hiking to the summit of Chiaksan Mountain, you'll find Birobong Peak, where the panoramic view of the undulating mountain range will leave you awe-struck.
The park is also steeped in historical and cultural significance, dotted with ancient temples like Guryongsa, each holding fascinating tales of the past. Chiaksan Mountain Park is a captivating fusion of unspoiled nature, adventure, and culture.
It's not just a journey; it's an experience that reverberates with the echoes of time and the whispers of the wild...
Chiaksan National Park is a spectacular mountain park with several peaks and natural features worthy of a visit. Chiaksan has been designated as the sixteenth national park in 1984. It has a total land area of about 182 square kilometers.
Chiaksan National Park attracts visitors in huge numbers due to its fantastic rock formations, imposing high peaks, steep valleys, scenic slopes, among its natural beauty. Among the highest peaks, Namdaebong, Cheonjibong, Hyangnobong, Sambong, and Birobong tops the list. The tallest among them reaches to over 1,200 meters high.
The total area of Chiaksan National Park includes a 14 kilometer-long trail that connects the peaks for Birobong Peak in the North to Namdaebong Peak in the south. These spiny peaks hold many breath-taking deep valleys, surprisingly unusual granite rock formations, streams and waterfalls that entice visitors.
Specifically, most visitors and hikers alike are drawn into the beauties of Geumdae Valley, Taejongdae Rock, Guryongsa Temple, and the famous Seryeom Falls. During Fall season, you will be entertained by colorful foliage, by verdant forest and plants in summer, and white mountain blanketed by snow in the winter season.
Having learned a little bit about the park, one will wonder how is it like to hike and conquer its peaks. Yes, it is a beautiful place and visitors are permitted to explore its wonders (except for some dangerous paths). The following information will surely satisfy the curiosity and cravings of avid mountain hikers.
This is a fantastic hiking trail for beginners or for those who simply want to lightly walk and relax with the verdant views around.
I get off from the bus in front of Chiaksan National Park's management office (when I noticed that everybody did!). Walking from this point will take around 10 minutes to get to the main entrance where you need to pay an admission fee (2,500 Won).
This was the trail I took which directly led to Chiaksan's highest peak--Birobong Peak. On the left side, you will see the clear and freshwater of the stream coming down from the heart of the mountain towards the valleys of Wonju and to the sea.
Some trails are not listed here as they are not open for hiking due to safety advisory relating to weather conditions and other safety conditions. Anyway, when you are in the area, please inquire at the information center before heading up.
Entering Chiaksan National Park is not free as it is nationally protected and requires visitors to pay for conservation fee for a minimal amount.
Invidividual: 2,500 Won [Adult], 800 Won [Teenager], 500 Won [Child]
*Group: 2,300 [Adult], 700 Won [Teenager], 400 Won [Child] (Groups means from 30 and above number of people)
Campground, Visitor’s Center, Restrooms
If you are only a backpacker or bicycle rider, you would not need the information below. Yes, that’s because it is about the parking facilities available within the park.
Note: Don’t lose your parking ticket as they will charge you for full day basis!
Now, if you are going there and decided to take public transport, the below information could be useful.
Chiaksan National Park is very accessible area as it is along Jungang Expressway and Yeongdong Expressway, and national railroad system. If you travel from Seoul to Chiaksan, the following information are available:
From Wonju Station, you can take the following buses:
Then get off at the entrance area of Chiaksan Mountain.
Now, if you need further information, you can use the following contact details.
Address: Bugok-ri, Gangnim-myeon, Hoengseong-gun & Hakgok-ri, Socho-myeon, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do
Inquiries: 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Hope the above descriptions of Chiaksan National Park help you find what you need. Please, share with us your experience after your visit.
My Chiaksan National Park adventure is a fulfillment to my promise to update the above article with my travel and experience of this beautiful mountain park.
Since I still have many national parks to explore, deciding to climb or hike Chiaksan was a difficult decision and not one of my top listed destination.
But, anyway, I decided to do it because I won’t lose any because all national parks in Korea are worth my time and resources.
This is an important pronouncement….
I should say that I was very satisfied and happy that I did travel to Wonju and explored Chiaksan National Park. Yeheyyyy! I did it!
I decided to stay for two nights in Wonju City to explore Chiaksan and other exciting travel destinations and attractions in Wonju, Gangwondo Province.
I listed the following sites and places…
Yes, they were my initial and rough plan of places to visit. However, I know at the back of my mind that I couldn’t explore them all. I know that I have to be there and decide which places I can cover within a couple of days. Whew!
As you have noticed, the places with links could mean that I wrote an article about them because I have been there and done that (thingy)!
My experiences at Chiaksan National Park is a very memorable and great feeling for me. I love nature and I always will probably because I was growing up as a child in a small town with somehow similar landscapes with this park--mountains, rivers, greens everywhere.
It was a nostalgic experience, and I literally felt like I wanted to visit home. Mainly, the sight of the refreshing streams within Chiaksan was the trigger.
I used to swim in, dip in, and play with my brothers and sisters, and friends in the streams when I was little. It was the most memorable and the best days of my childhood days!
Alright… back to Chiaksan… :)
I was just saying that if you love exploring nature, this park is one of those places you can put on your list. You have choices of hiking courses or trails…
I chose to climb the highest peak of the park--Birobong Peak! That’s because I want to do it not only for maintaining physical and mental health but also for environmental reasons.
Yes, I want to claim that I care for the environment and that I want to support the efforts of environmental and climate activists. That’s it. That’s my confession to you!
I guess you are one of them^^.
I stayed in Gamyoung area, a historic place, where transports, shops, accommodations, and other facilities that a traveler can easily access.
Here’s my day’s activity…
7:45 AM -- left the hotel to take a bus (#41) at Gamyoung Road
8:00 AM -- took the bus (#41) for Guryongsa Temple
8:50 AM -- arrived at Chiaksan Park Management Office (I got off here as everybody did!)
9:00 AM -- reached the entrance area to the park
9:15 AM -- arrived and then explored Guryongsa Temple
9:45 AM -- reached Seryeom Waterfalls
12:15 NN -- conquered Birobong Peak!
4:00 PM -- returned to the hotel
I kept on checking my phone that’s why I almost got the time right. But they are just based on my pace, and you can have your own time-frame at your own pace.
Of course, you can do it quicker than I do. But since I just want to really enjoy myself in this area, I took time admiring everything (especially when my legs complain and asking me to take short breaks!).
As I mentioned above, I followed the recommended course from Guryong Information Center to Birobong Peak. My photos below will shed more light about the places I have tracked.
Here are the details:
Guryongsa Info Center ->1.1km -> Guryongsa Temple -> 0.7km -> Daegok Safety Center -> 1.5km -> Seryeom Falls -> 2.7km -> Birobong Peak
I reached the temple area of Guryongsa after a relaxing and energizing walk from the Ticketing Office. Since I got off from the bus (#41, 41-1), the murmuring and calming sound of the stream was always there.
It took me around 20 minutes to reach the temple. The scary-looking Heavenly Guardians of the temple greeted me with such looks. Now, I got used to them as they are all the same in all temples around the country.
I always feel excited and not even feeling bored of exploring temples. So, I walked around, walking slowly while trying to keep the rules of the temple area. Yes, there are lists of etiquette that one should comply while inside any temple area.
Knowing that these temples are holy and old, their individual historical backgrounds do not bore me although they may seem look are too familiar or similar.
The above photo is the Daeungjeon Hall or the main hall of the temple area. It houses mostly the biggest (golden) Buddha(s) statue.
Above: I was expecting a beautiful waterfall somewhere in the park after a few hours of hike. But this amazing sight greeted me right after exploring Guryongsa Temple.
It is a cascade to me not a waterfall. But I found it very attractive--the water is very clear and tempting. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to enter and do something in the water. They are protected by law.
Seryeom Falls (photo above): Just like you, I guess, loves waterfalls. Actually, I chose this hiking trail because I wanted to see this falls. I was expecting to see a falling-water from the top of a rock to the pool of water basin.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed because it was not what I had in mind. This was small! But it was cute, though!
Its cute sight, and after a few minutes of break and sipping my water provision, I headed towards the small bridge that links to the start of the real hike towards Birobong Peak.
Sadaribyeongchang (above photo). Yes, I was expecting to be hiking an area like this one. This time I didn't feel disappointed as the description is correct.
'Sadari' means a ladder and 'byeongchang' means a cliff in Korean. It is rightly so because you can only pass through this part of the trail by walking on the ladder and/or steps.
Why? Because it would be impossible for one to pass through without the ladder/steps. Both sides of the path are cliffs. You are literally walking above the rocks with the ladder raising you above the rocks.
Yes, it was exhilarating!
The views from the path is fantastic. You can also touch the Red Pine Trees on both sides of the ladder/steps. It was a top-of-the-world feeling!
Chiaksan Mountain Range (above and below): I was taking quick stops to catch my breath and relax my muscles--legs muscles--as they started complaining!
My mind was willing to continue the climb but my legs seemed not to listen. I was getting some leg cramps. So, I did make many stops!
Although you are climbing up using either the stone steps or ladders, the steep level is a real challenge even to regular hikers. These facilities are really helpful in keeping hikers or climbers much safer!
Yes... The views, the verdant sight of the mountains are spectacular after the Spring season. You can still see some trees and bushes blooming.
I decided to pick an accommodation which was recommended by travelers who expressed satisfaction through rating. Among many good online booking providers, I chose a hotel (actually a motel) rated highly at Agoda.
I only paid a very generous offer (around 50 USD) per night and stayed there for two nights. I can honestly say that I was delighted with my decision to stay there. Very cozy room with all the necessary facilities I needed (spotless bed, washroom, computer, free Wi-FI, TV, etc.).
As an international traveler, I should say that a traveler must stay in a hotel that fulfills the standard international requirements, which this hotel has been fulfilling.
What surprised me about the room is that all electronic facilities can be controlled by ONLY one remote control (‘remocon’ in Korean). It controls the lights, TV, air-conditions — a ubiquitous control system. You don’t need to get up and turn on the light!
Yes, of course, there are many hotels nearby or within Wonju City. Feel free to search them here.
I was dissatisfied...
Because I wanted to explore more but didn’t have many luxuries of the time. I will surely come back and complete my list.
OVERALL, every bit of my experience and memories of the places I’ve been to are very fulfilling. I was more than satisfied. I was very happy with my experiences.
Wonju people were friendly people—hotel staff, bus drivers, hikers, taxi drivers…
I usually greet other hikers. But most of them greeted me first—amazing! You can say “Annyonghaseyo”! You can say that regardless of time and age difference.
Should you have some questions, please ask them below or send me a message.
Thanks for reading this. You’re awesome!