Wondaeri Birch Forest (원대리 자작나무 숲) is a hiking park lush with birch trees. This popular attraction is in Injae-gun (country) in Gangwon Province, South Korea.
Over 700 thousand birch trees known for their attractive white bark offers forest trails amidst their shades to hikers who love a nature walk.
Of course, you can always find serene and green parks wherever you go in the country. But Wondaeri Birch Forest is unique due to the kind of trees living here.
The beautiful and unique branch structure and white bark of the birch are observable throughout the year. However, the scene is more astonishing when their white color matches the white snow in the Winter.
About 50 years back, the forest area got burnt down, killing all tree species. The reforestation project of the site was one of the significant projects mandated by the Korean government. The Korean War devastated not only lives, structures, and society but also nature.
The birch tree reforestation sits on over 130 hectares of hilly areas in Inje-gun. The project commenced in 1974 and was completed in 1995.
Wondaeri forest is intended to promote the functions of trees and educate people about growing and their environmental values.
Wondaeri Birch Forest is designated as an ecological tourism site and listed as one of the top must-visit destinations by the Korea Tourism Organization in 2012.
It is estimated that over 200 thousand visit the area annually.
Plan ahead to ensure that you are ready to enjoy the whole trip and experience.
You can travel the area anytime during the year. But the best time to observe the scene is during the winter season, especially when the snow covers the ground white and sits over the branches of the birch trees.
Winter in Korea (especially in Gangwondo Province) is cold for those not from the cold regions. So, prepare think winter jacket, winter gloves, hiking shoes or boots, and thick socks.
Enjoying the Trails
There are about seven main hiking trails available and recommended for all guests. Most of them are uphill but very doable among individuals with generally no physical issues.
Guests who cannot walk well on uphill or somewhat challenging terrain (such as wheelchair users) cannot access the trails.
Please, check out the trails follow...
Birch Forest course is about 0.9 kilometers and takes about 40 minutes to accomplish.
2nd Course: The Healing Course is about 1.5 kilometers and would take about 1.5 hours to complete.
3rd Course: Exploration Course is about 1.1 kilometers and would take about 40 minutes to accomplish.
4th Course: The danger Course is about 3 kilometers and would take about 2 hours to accomplish.
5th Course: Healing Course is about 0.9 kilometers and would take about 30 minutes to complete.
6th Course: Hard Course is around 2.3 kilometers and would take about 1.8 hours.
7th Course: Short Course is only 1 kilometer but would take around 50 minutes to complete the hike.
Some reminders you need to keep while inside the Wondaeri Birch Forest...
Violations to such reminders will result in penalties with amounts depending on the damages and kind of violation.
Check out the schedule below as the accessibility changes every season.
Summer Time (May 31 to October 31)
Open: 9 am – 6 pm, last entry at 3 pm
Winter Time (December 15 to January 31)
Open: 9 am – 5 pm, last entry at 2 pm.
The months and days not mentioned above mean that the birch tree forest is closed as part of the conservation and protection program.
In case of any emergency, you might be required to write down your name and phone number at the information office's desk. Find out more about Wondaeri Forest here (Korean only).
You can get to Wondae-ri Birch Forest by taking public transport (bus, train, and taxi) or booking at any accessible attraction provider.
Bus (from Seoul)
Head to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (동서울 종합버스 터미날) and purchase your ticket for Inje Intercity Bus Terminal (이제 시외버스터미날). It takes about 2 hours and costs only around USD10.
From Inje Bus Terminal, you can take a taxi to the forest attraction. Local buses are also accessible and worth the wait as it is much cheaper than a taxi. It takes around 15 minutes and costs 20,000 Korean Won.
You can do the same when returning to Seoul or at any point of your origin.
Alternately, you can take the city bus to 원대리 마을회관 (Wondaeri Town Hall), which takes around 20 minutes to the forest area. The bus fare is between USD2-3, which can be purchased at Inje Intercity Bus Terminal.
Arriving at Wondaeri Birch Forest Park
Either you take the bus or taxi, you will see signage and guides posted around the area. In addition, you will see huge maps that show tracking courses that you can choose from for your day's nature experience.
Beside the map, you can see the ticketing booth and registration booth. And before you start your exciting experience, visit the washroom first, as you cannot find bathrooms easily along the way.
Good luck, and have a wonderful time with nature!