Hiking on Oseosan Mountain in Korea

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Hiking on Oseosan Mountain in Korea

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

South Korea is covered in nearly 70 percent of mountainous land, making it a heavenly place for hiking enthusiasts. Though I can see the benefits of escaping the city and reconnecting with nature through hiking, I have not really been a fan of this outdoor activity.

For me, hiking has always been a laborious pastime only done on school or work field trips with a group of people and around hundreds of others on the same trail.

A recent solo trip to Oseosan Mountain (오서산), however, has completely changed my mind about hiking. This trip, in contrast to others before, was solely based on my own schedule and my own walking pace. When I was short of breath, I could rest as often and as much as I wanted. If I saw a gorgeous landscape, I allowed myself to stop and enjoy it for as long as I wanted. This trip was about the journey, not about reaching the top of the mountain.

 

You’ll find Oseosan Mountain in Boryeong, which is only a 90-minute drive from Camp Humphreys. The mountain is 91 meters high, making it the highest mountain on Chungcheognam-do’s western coast. Because of this, Oseosan Mountain is known to fishermen as the “Lighthouse of the West Sea.” For hikers, it means stunning ocean views from the top.

I started my expedition from the Oseosan Recreational Forest (오서산 자연 휴양림) parking lot. From here, the summit is an easy 2.5-kilometer hike. If you want more nature, I suggest starting from the parking lot near Myeongdae Marsh (명대소류지), which adds one more kilometer to your hike and takes you through Myeongdae Valley. As an added bonus, the Myeongdae Marsh route parking lot is free, and you’ll avoid the 3,000 won ($2.5) for parking and 1,000 won fees for admission at the recreational forest.

There are other hiking paths you can choose depending on your experience and the time you want to spend in the area.

Beginners prefer to start at the Sangdam parking (오서산공영주차장) lot on the north side of the mountain. On the western side of the mountain, visitors can park at the Seongyeon Parking Lot (성연주차장) near Seongyeon Reservoir and choose from three different trails to reach the summit within a 2-to-3-km hike.

Alternatively, you can drive up a little higher to historic Jeongamsa Temple (정암사) and start from there while significantly reducing your climbing time.

Starting from the temple will get you to the summit in about two kilometers. Don’t forget to stop halfway through at the deck observatory for some great photos.

This trail starts with a 1,600-stair-climb from Jeongamsa Temple to the observatory, but it’s a good one to choose if you don’t want to struggle to reach the summit.

I started my hike from the recreational forest parking lot and after some time I reached my first pit stop at Woljeongsa Temple (월정사). This peaceful and tiny temple kept was a great place to take photos, enjoy the scenery and just relax, so I hung around the area for a good hour before I continued my trek.

Though this path is considered an easy one, there were still some rough patches with slippery rocks I had to traverse. When I reached the halfway mark, I took another break to catch my breath and drink some water. Though I hadn’t made that much of a journey, when I looked behind me at all the greenery beyond, it felt as good as though I had already reached the top.

That was when I thought, “How much higher do I have to go up?” But then, I noticed the relay station up ahead in the distance and was instantly relieved that I was almost at the top.

When I reached the relay station, a cluster of dazzling silver grass along the ridge in front of me unfolded. The spectacular 740-meters long reed forest toward the northern observatory is the highlight of Mt. Oseosan in autumn. The blue autumn sky and the picturesque silver grass reflected by sunlight were great rewards for the hike. The silver grass of Mt. Oseosan peaks from October and lasts until early November.

As I reached the top, I saw many backpackers coming and going. They seemed to be looking for a place to spend the night. As for me I had made it to the top, despite not considering myself a hiker! From here, I was given the joys of the bird’s-eye view of the Boryeong City including Daecheon Port, Deongyeon Reservoir, Boryeong Dam, Daecheon Port, and Daecheon Beach.

The sense of relief was short-lived because then I realized I would have to climb back down. Though it took me one hour and 40 minutes to make the climb up, getting back down a different way took almost one hour. Climbing down was a little bit harder than climbing up due to the pressure on my knees, and I had to hurry down the mountain before it got dark. But thanks to knee taping and climbing sticks, I made my way down without mishap.

I can’t even remember the last time I went for a hike, but this time was such a rewarding experience that I might try a different trail or a different mountain again sometime soon. Oseosan Mountain is definitely one I’d recommend for avid hikers and nature lovers, or even novices like me.

 

ADDRESS

 

Sangdam parking (오서산공영주차장)

충남 홍성군 광천읍 오서길351번길 8-10 (KOR), 8-10,

Oseo-gil 351beon-gil, Gwangcheon-eup, Hongseong-gun, Chungcheongnam-do(ENG)

NAVER MAP

 

Jeongamsa Temple(정암사)

충남 홍성군 광천읍 오서길 625 (KOR), 625, Oseo-gil, Gwangcheon-eup, Hongseong-gun, Chungcheongnam-do (ENG)

NAVER MAP

 

Myeongdae parking lot (명대주차장)

충남 보령시 청라면 오서산길 447 (KOR), 447, Oseosan-gil, Cheongna-myeon, Boryeong-si (ENG)

NAVER MAP

 

Oseosan Recreational Forest(오서산 자연휴양림)

충남 보령시 청라면 오서산길 531 (KOR), 531, Oseosan-gil, Cheongna-myeon, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do (ENG)

NAVER MAP

 

Snacking at Woljeongsa Temple

What’s your favorite food or snack to pack for a hike? Probably one of the best foods to eat while hiking in Korea is portable kimbap that you can get easily wherever you go.

The mistake I made on the day trip to Oseosan Mountain was hiking without packing snacks. On the way to the mountain, I came across convenience stores near a small village but ignored them as I thought the mountain would have stores that offer snacks and food. However, the mountain is so remote that it has no convenient stores. 

Though there is a small store near the natural forest parking lot that sells ice cream and instant noodles, they didn’t have an electronic payment machine. I started climbing without having lunch because I had no cash, only a credit card.

The mountain was a little bit rocky, which made exhaust more energy than I expected. When I had barely reached the foot of the mountain, I was already hungry and ready to eat.

Just in time, I was able to arrive at a small temple selling food. Woljeongsa (월정사) is a humble temple that offers limited options of snacks and food for hikers.

They have fried wild greens, acorn jelly, Korean pancakes made of an acorn, and makgeolli on their menu. I settled in the open-air dining area where you can enjoy the view of the surrounding forest and opted for acorn pancake for 10,000 won. Although a bit pricey for a pancake, the dish was tasty and filled me up, and it was a delightful dining experience with a stunning view of the forest.

 

ADDRESS: 충남 보령시 청라면 오서산길 549 (KOR)

NAVER MAP

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays)

PHONE: 041-935-9539,

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