Seoraksan National Park Sokcho
The View from Ulsanbawi - Adam Gregory
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Seoraksan National Park (also sometimes spelled Soraksan 설악산) is located in Gangwon-do, near Sokcho, and is home to the highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range (태백산맥), Seoraksan itself. This is also the third highest mountain in South Korea, only being beaten in height by Hallasan (the volcanic peak on Jeju Island) and Jirisan, in the south of Korea. The highest peak of Seoraksan, Daechongbong Peak (대청봉), is 1,708 metres (5,603 feet) at its summit. The name ‘Seorak’ means ‘snow’ and ‘steep crags’, thus Seoraksan is often nicknamed ‘Snowy Crags Mountain’.

If you’re in town and want to venture into the park, but have limited time, or want a nice half-day, family- friendly hike, a great hike to start with is the Ulsanbawi hike. The first part of the hike, up to Heundeulbawi, is gradual and manageable for kids. Along the trail, you’ll encounter a massive Buddhist statue, a gorgeous temple, a hermitage with a cave prayer room and plenty of places to buy water or bibimbap or use the restroom. After Heundeulbawi, you can continue on to Ulsanbawi. This portion of the hike involves a lot of stairs (A LOT) and is a great work out in a fantastic setting. By the time you stagger to the top, you encounter a spectacular view - the ocean on the east coast, and a long run of the Taebaek mountain range.