Songnisan National Park Hiking
Munjangdae, Songnisan

Songnisan (don't be confused by the spelling - the Korean letters spell out "Sokrisan" but the name is actually pronounced "Songnisan") became a national park in 1970. It’s the 6th largest of Korea’s mountain parks with an area of 275 km2. The name means “Remote from the Ordinary World”—a reference to its somewhat isolated position in the center of South Korea. The mountains belong to the southern arm of the greater Sobaek Range, and the park lies on the border between North Chungcheong and North Gyeongsong Provinces.

In 1999, someone decided to cash in on the name of a famous set of mountains in Europe by dubbing the ridge that connects Gubyeongsan, Songnisan, Gwaneumbong and Sanhakbong the Chungbuk Alps. The name is a little misleading, as the highest mountain here is only a humble 1,058 meters. On the English brochure available at the tourist center in the Songni-dong Bus Terminal building, it states: “A hiking path was opened and transformed into a commercial product.” This perhaps says something about how Koreans view their mountains and is a hint that hiking here might not always be peaceful and relaxing. The park gets about 1.5 million visitors a year.

Songnisan is very scenic. On wet days clouds often catch in the valleys between the mountains, creating a dramatic layered effect. In the spring, the area is known for the brilliant pink azaleas that bloom on the mountainsides. The mountains have a craggy look, with lots of interesting granite out-croppings and cliffs.