HIKING: JIRISAN NATIONAL PARK
Jirisan is South Korea’s largest national park. It covers 3 provinces, Gyeongsangnam-do, Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do, and is a hiker’s paradise! The second tallest mountain in South Korea, Mount Jirisan can be found standing here at 1915m above sea level – the tallest being Mount Hallasan on Jeju Island (1950m).
A couple months before leaving South Korea, my friends and I decided to hike one of the mountains in Jirisan National Park (definitely not Mount Jirisan). We were lost foreigners and til this day, I have no idea which mountain in Jirisan we hiked, but we didn’t reach its peak… While we ought to have known given it was winter, we rocked up shocked that the park was covered in layers of snow. We weren’t prepared to hike this slippery terrain but up for the challenge we were! I was wearing my Nike joggers and one of my friends wore her chucks (with a hole, I believe…).
My experience… It was difficult but kind of fun! One of my friends, from Canada, was literally in tears along the way and wanted to head back (she managed to push through). I had hiked this mountain, and this very route, just 2 months earlier in Autumn and it was a breeze. The snow made it 100 times harder – we didn’t even think to buy snow grips for our shoes which were apparently sold somewhere at the entrance…
Here are some photos of this terrible but pretty hike, and also the hike I did in Autumn. I also made a very short video of the winter hike (just below).
The pro hikers – Korean Ahjummas and Ahjussis properly clothed and equipped with the right gear!
And us… noobs.
Friend struggling to get her iPhone to work. She had a theory – basically, her phone can’t take the cold! After asking a few people about it, I think she’s right! Something to do with the battery…
Chillin’ at the temple, the highest point we reached on the mountain.
My friends collecting our bags that we hid behind trees at the entrance – they were too heavy to carry with us on the hike!
HOW TO GET TO JIRISAN
Most of us were based in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do, so we just caught the local bus to Jinju and then another to Sancheong.
As Jirisan National Park is massive, covering 3 provinces, you can also access the park from Jeonju, Gwangju and Daegu city. If you’re coming in from Seoul or Busan, my post Getting around South Korea will help you navigate Korea’s transport system – a combination of KTX train, intercity bus and local bus transport may be required. You can call Korea’s Travel Hotline (1330, from within Korea) for advice on the best route to get to Jirisan from where you’re staying and also get the bus schedule (a few bus schedules have been translated and uploaded on this blog).