Seoul Trail #2: Yongma Achasan Course

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December 5th 2015
Published: December 18th 2015
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I exited Hwarangdae Station at exit one. I turned around and went straight in the opposite direction, you can see the red stamp box from across the road, set in a little park. I stamped my little booklet, it feels good to have another stamp, one step closer to completing this journey. Then I looked for the trail marker, which indicated that I should go to the right and then down some steps. I started walking around 8:45 am, a nice early start. This is the second course in the Seoul Trail or Dulle Gil stretching 12.6 kilometres from Hwarangdae Station to Gwangnaru Station. My stamp book and map said that it would take around 5 hours 10 minutes to complete the course and it was a medium level course.

After coming down the steps, I walked along a small river/stream for the first kilometer or so. The sun was shining and it was a really beautiful day, not cold at all. I was a bit too hot in my winter jacket. It was quite hard to see as I was walking into the sunlight. This is very urban walking, not what I had imagined as there were lots of new apartment blocks near the river and the motorway, which was giving off the lovely smell of exhaust fumes, however there were some pretty plants growing up the concrete walk. I hope one day that they will cover the wall to make it look prettier. The stream also had a lot of reeds growing in it, which were glistening in the sunlight. I also saw some ducks enjoying their swim. It's not often I see ducks here, so that was a lovely surprise. The new apartment blocks soon gave way to a small section of farmland. I couldn't see but I could hear some dogs barking. I loved that one of the sheds had a CCTV sign on it, warning off any vandals or thieves.

The next section was along the main road and I passed Sunae Station. From there, the road became quieter and I turned on to more country like roads. There weren't too many cars going past, but there were plenty of city buses. I kept walking, I went through a bridge that had been painted with some gorgeous murals. I headed past Yangwon Station to reach Jungrang Campground. This first section of the trek took me about 45 minutes, I was pleased with how quick my progress was. The trail follows the edge of the campground, it looks like it would be a great place for families in the summer. I followed the road round and came into a town. Following the signs, from there I headed to Mangu Cemetery Park.

This part was quite steep, as you walk uphill, passing some of the graves. Some of the graves had a dusting of snow on them and looked really pretty. The ones further up however didn't have any snow on them, the sun was shining, and the sky was blue. The upper and lower slopes were a complete contrast to each other. I continued going up, there were quite a few steps, I managed to power up them, but there were a few old men taking a breather about half way up. I was surprised when I came out from the woods and was greeted by a carpark. I went further up and then followed the path that went to the right. This section of the trail was along a paved road, which made it very easy to walk along. It felt a bit colder walking along here, as this part of the trail wasn't getting much sun. There were some lovely views of Seoul from this part of the course. I could see all the mountains that I had been unable to last week because of the fog. This part of the trail was very popular and lots of people were out getting some exercise. There are quite a few different trails on Mangusan, and I had done a bit of a different trail last time I hiked here. It had snowed quite heavily during the week and I had to be careful on parts of the trail. I didn't want to fall over and embarass myself.

The paved road gave way to a more traditional mountain path. The second stamp box is located near here. I followed it upwards and came across a lot of steps. There was a sign saying how many steps there were, I think it said 370 or 570, but my memory isn't too good now. However, there were a lot. Last time I hiked along this way, I was coming in the opposite direction so I was able to go down the steps, I wasn't so lucky this time as it was up, up and up. I did take a few breathers as I was going. They have built a couple of viewing platforms with benches on the way up. These are a great place to take in the views as they are facing in opposite directions. The path then forks and you can take a detour in the trail to reach Yongmasan's peak, since I've been there a couple of times before I didn't bother, and headed towards Achasan. There is a great view, when you are at the highest point, you can see the old Achasan fort in the distance. It looked so pretty with a sprinkling of snow. The trail continued down and then up towards the fort. The Seoul Trail goes right past the base of the fort, but you can take a detour and head up to take a look at it. Since I've already been I didn't bother.

The next part of the trail is quite confusing as there aren't really any trail markers for the Seoul Trail. There are numerous trails heading off in different directions, and there were quite a few people, all taking different trails. I got lost at this point. I knew, that I needed to head downwards, so picked a random trail. I ended up following a kind of little stream downwards. I had definitely deviated from the proper path. I saw some sighs for a different trail, so I followed those and luckily they brought me out on to the main path. I had deviated from the Seoul Trail to the Guri Trail, Guri city borders this part of Seoul. Luckily, the trails meet up. I, then, took the path down into the park. I came across the third stamp box pretty quick. I had expected it to be nearer the park's entrance.

I came out of Achasan Park and saw the Seoul Trail signs. I followed them down the hill, and crossed the road. I ventured down through a park like area, and down a cute little backstreet. The houses were old school one story buildings, so cute and small. The outer walls were painted with murals. I love all the murals that I come across in Korea, they really brighten up the neighbourhoods. I came out on to a road, and followed the signs to reach the main road. From there I turned left and headed towards Gwangnaru Station. I finished 12:15, so it took me about 3 and a half hours. I wonder if I can keep these times up...

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