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near Musoejŏm, Gangwon-do (South Korea)
Birobong Peak is located in Chiaksan National Park near Wonju, about a 2 hour drive from Seoul or Osan. By car take highway 50 east so the Saemal Interchange. There will be signs for the park as you approach the exit. After the toll, take a right onto rt. 442 for about 1 km. Then take a right onto rt. 42 for about 1 km. Take a left on the park road and follow it until you see the park office on the right. There is a big parking lot there and it seems to be free, although the park’s webpage indicates there is a fee to park. There are also nice restrooms there. You can also save 1.2 km of hiking each way by driving to the end of the road where there is a small parking lot with expensive parking if you can even get in.
I started my trail in the Park Office parking lot. Take the path to the right of the park office and follow it for about 150 m until you get to the road. Turn right and follow the path along the road to the trail head. At the trail head you will find restrooms, a small parking lot, a bus stop, restaurants, and the ticket booth. There is a 2500 won fee to enter the park. The first 3.3 km take you to Seryem Falls. This part of the trail is mostly smooth and well maintained is very easy. It takes you past Guryong Temple and follows the river crossing just after the temple. The Seryem Falls is just a short 150 m round trip detour. When you get to the falls intersection, if you don’t go to the falls, take a right across the bridge. Note: the bridge closes to hikers going up at 1 pm. Just a short ways past the bridge you will reach an intersection indicating Birobong Peak in both directions. The trail going steeply up the stairs to the left follows a ridge while the other one follows a valley. I chose to go up the ridge and down the valley, but you can go either way. The ridge trail alternates between very steep and relatively flat and has around 1000 stair steps according to the park web page. Most of the 1000 m (3327 feet) of elevation gain is in this last 2.3 km. The flatter parts have some rest stops with log stools to sit on. Once on the summit there are nice views of the surrounding landscapes and the city of Wonju. There are also three stone towers making the summit area and a plaque telling the story of the towers. To descend by the valley trail, the route can be found between the 2nd and 3rd towers going down to the west. After 0.3 km there will be a trail marker indicating to turn right down the valley. The descent down the valley trail is not as steep overall, but the footing is much worse and there are only a few stair cases, although one was under construction as I passed by. While there are no formal rest stops on this trail, there are several places with easy access to the stream it follows. Finally near as you get near the intersection with the ridge trail, there is a nice little waterfall to check out. Once you get to the intersection with the ridge trail you just retrace your steps back to the trail hear.
With the exception of the summit, the entire trail is in the shade of the woods which is nice on a hot day. While the distance does not seem so long, don’t under estimate how strenuous this hike is. Due to the terrain, it is slow going. Going up, I averaged less than 2 km per hour and I am typically a very fast hiker. Bring plenty of water, because there is no drinking water along the way.
National Park Website
The parking lot right at the trailhead was full so I had to drive about 1.2 km back down to the large parking lot at the park office. From here follow the path to the right of the park office and then follow the path along the road to the trailhead.
It is possible to get here by bus 41 or 41-1 although I don't know where you catch them since I came by car.
There is a small parking lot and a bunch of restaurants at the trailhead. The park does have a 2500 won admission fee.
The trail is well marked. I only took a few pictures of the important ones. This one is just a little ways past the ticket booth indicating 5.6 km to Birobong Peak.
Just a few hundred meter into the trail there is a nice trail map.
The first 2.5 km of the trail to Seryempokpo(falls) is mostly flat with a smooth well maintained trail. I follows the river crossing after the Temple.
This one was a little confusing. Continue along the path (paver stones) on the right side of the river rather than crossing. This will bring you along the parking lot for Guryongsa (Temple).
A nice little suspension bridge just a short ways past the temple with a nice view of some rapids.
If you want to see Seryem Falls, you can take the 150 round trip detour here, otherwise turn right across the bridge for Birobong Peak. The bridge has a gate that closes at around 1 pm. You are not allowed to continue up Birobong peak after this time. The gate opens for people coming down.
This waterfall seems to be the main destination for many hikers.
The trail after the waterfall along the ridge to Birobong peak is steep and rough, although it also has a lot of stairs for the steepest parts.
Rest spot 1.7 km from summit. There are quite a few of these spots with log seats along the trail.
Birobong Peak has 3 stone towers built by a guy in the 1960s who had a dream that it was his duty to build them. The summit has nice views of the surrounding landscape and the city of Wonju.
The descent trail follows a stream and is an ankle turner. It is not as steep as the ridge trail and has far fewer staircases.
This waterfall doesn't seem to have a name and was only about a 20 meter side trip from the descent trail.
Just after the Seryem Falls, After you cross the bridge You will come to this intersection which show Birobong Peak in both directions. To the left is the ridge trail and to the right is the valley trail. I went up the ridge trail and came down the valley trail. The stairs are the start of the Ridge trail.