Autumn in Korea: Hiker’s Guide to Seoraksan National Park

Be the first to view fall foliage in South Korea with a trek to Seoraksan National Park! Map out your adventure with our ultimate Seoraksan National Park hiker’s guide. Not only is it Korea’s third highest mountain, but also said to be the most beautiful – especially when covered in brilliant autumn leaves.

Whether you’re planning an easy day hike, or taking the whole weekend to conquer rugged paths, we’ve got you covered. Get all the info you need, from activities and hiking routes to difficulty levels, without opening multiple tabs. Explore South Korea’s greatest mountain playground with our Seoraksan National Park autumn guide for all hikers.

Hike through the stunning fall scenery of Seoraksan National Park:

Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan National Park

How to get to Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park is located in Gangwon area, up in the northeastern corner of South Korea.

It takes around 3 – 4 hours to reach from Seoul.

Depart from Seoul

From wherever you are in Seoul, head to the subway Gangbyeon Station via Seoul Subway Line 2. Look for the Dong-Seoul Bus terminal and then take a bus bound for Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal (trip duration: 3 hours).

Then around the Sokcho Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 7 or 7-1 that will bring you to Seoraksan National Park. (trip duration: 30 minutes).

Schedule: Dong Seoul buses depart every 10- 20 minutes between 6:00am to 12:00pm


12,800 for Gangbyeon Station to Sokcho Intercity Bus

1,100 from Sokcho Intercity Bus to Seoraksan National Park

Pro-tip: If you are planning a weekend trip, you might get stuck in traffic due to a lot of tourists heading to Sokcho too. Opt to depart Seoul on a Friday night and reach Sokcho in advance. We recommend staying at The Class 300 Hotel near Sokcho Express Bus Terminal.

Easy option: Get round-trip transportation by booking the Seoraksan National Park Day Tour

Things to see and do aside from hiking

Seorak Cable Car: Seoraksan National Park
Seorak Cable Car: Seoraksan National Park

Seorak Cable Car

If you’re on a tight schedule or feeling lazy, hop aboard the Seoraksan Cable Car, located just 3 minutes away from the Seoraksan National Park entrance. Catch sight of fascinating rock formations of the Gwongeumseong Fortress as well as the Sogongwon and Jeohangnyeong areas, and Ulsanbawi Rock on the way to the top. Hop off the cable car and take a half-hour hike to Gwongeumseong Fortress (see details below about difficulty level).

  • Service Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm (departs every 10 – 15 minutes)
  • Cost:  

Adult Round-trip Ticket (14 years old and above): 10,000

Child (between 3 – 13 years old): 6,000. Free tickets for children under 3 years of age

Seoraksan National Park Visitor Center

Learn all about Mt. Seorak, along with the park’s history and culture with themed exhibits. Gain insight from films, books, and games to get the hype before you start your trek.

  • Service Hours: 09:00-17:00 (Closed on Mondays)
  • Cost: Free (included in the park entrance fee: 3,500)

Grab a bite at the local restaurants

Near the visitor center, there are quaint restaurants with non-English names, identifiable only by their bright red or green sign in Korean. They offer simple Korean cuisine and refreshments. Get your fill of Korean pancakes and soju at the green one. If you pick its red neighbor, savor omelette and rice dishes with helpings of bean sprouts, and kimchi.

Recommended Routes in General Seoraksan National Park Areas

The park is divided into NaeSeorak (Inner Seorak) and Oe Seorak (Outer Seorak). Outer Seorak is the more crowded side of the park. While it is close to the sea, it has steeper slopes and less wildlife and plants.

Inner Seoraksan is secluded, with less steep peaks and less people around. Enjoy more floral diversity and encounter over 2,000 animal species, including black bears and Chinese minnows. We estimate 2-3 days to fully explore one side of the park.

For Beginner Hikers

Gwongeumseong Fortress Course (1.5km one-way)

Alight from the cable car we recommended above and take a 10-minute hike up the stairs to the peak of the Gwongeumseong Fortress. Admire the magnificent rock formation, lined with warm-colored autumn leaves. From the top, view the majestic mountain range, the giant bronze Buddha and Ulsanbawi (another massive rock formation).

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 1 – 2 hours, 1-day course

Biryong Falls Trail (2.8km)

Course: Entrance – Yukdam Falls – Biryong Falls – Towangseong Falls Observatory

Trek through flowing streams, gaze up at the 320-meter tall Towangseong Falls, and encounter lush forests tinged with red leaves. The first part to Biryong Falls is easy, but the final stretch is a definite challenge – prepare to climb 600 stairs and a completely vertical trail to Towangseong Falls Observatory. Just a heads up – this is a popular attraction for weekend crowds and travelers of all ages.

  • Difficulty: Relatively easy
  • Duration: 1 – 3 hours, 1-day course

For Intermediate Hikers:

Ulsanbawi Rock Course
Ulsanbawi Rock Course

Ulsanbawi Rock Course: (3.8 km one-way)

Head to northern part of Seoraksan National Park and explore Ulsanbawi, a huge granite rock emerging out of the forests. There’s a reason it’s called the ‘stairmaster of hell’ – you need to endure steep slopes and 800 stairs to reach the top.  Do it and be rewarded with breathtaking mountain landscapes and their silhouettes in the distance.

  • Difficulty: Moderately hard
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours. 1-day course

Daeseung Waterfall Trail (11.3km round-trip)

Course: Jangsudae – Daeseung Falls – Sibi Seonnyeotang Basin – Namgyori

As one of the three largest waterfalls in Korea, this is one of the most beautiful places in Seoraksan Mountain. Stumble upon ponds formed by the falls and hear the calming sound of cascading waters. Daeseung Falls is located in Inner Seorak, with a steep 2-hour climb after a forked path (choose the left one!).

  • Difficulty: Moderately hard
  • Duration: 6 hours, 1-day course

For Expert Hikers Only

The most-challenging trail: Daecheongbong Peak Course

Daecheongbong Peak (image via dyonis, Flickr)
Daecheongbong Peak (image via dyonis, Flickr)

Course: Entrance – Biseondae – Heeungak Shelter – Daecheongbong Peak – Seorak Falls – Osaek

Aspiring to climb only the world’s highest mountains and peaks? Look no further than Daecheongbong Peak, Seoraksan’s highest point. This will take you a couple of days to climb, along with a 3:00am wakeup call – it’s totally worth it for the most mesmerizing sunrise of your life, rising from a sea of hills and mountains. Imagine all that with glorious fall foliage sprinkled throughout cliffs, rocks, and valleys as you head towards the summit.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Duration: 11 – 16 hours, recommended as a 2 or 3-day course

Best Spots for Maple Leaves and Photography in Seoraksan National Park

Feel the sense of wonder as you encounter a kaleidoscope of fall colors in captivating natural scenery – whip out your camera and snap one ‘for the gram’ at these iconic stops:

Sinheungsa Temple (OeSeorak)

Glimpse 7th century Korea at the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in the world. Observe traditional Korean architecture, wall paintings, and local monks practicing tea ceremonies. It’s only 10 minutes from the entrance, so don’t miss this stop!

Sinheungsa Temple (image via Eirien, Flickr)
Sinheungsa Temple (image via Eirien, Flickr)

Near the Sinheungsa Temple, look up at the magnificent high bronze Buddha statue, standing, er, sitting 14-meters high on a lotus pedestal. It serves as the symbol of hope for the reunification of North and South Korea, earning it the nickname, ‘Great Unification Buddha’.

Visit the revered Great Unification Buddha
Visit the revered Great Unification Buddha

Ulsanbawi Rock (NaeSeorak)

Ulsanbawi Rock (image via Sabrina Ariana, Flickr)
Ulsanbawi Rock (image via Sabrina Ariana, Flickr)

It’s a huge granite rock formation spanning 4 kilometers wide. From the summit, see the spectacular scenery of Mt. Seorak, the East Sea, Dalma Peak, and Haksapyeong Reservoir.

Daeseung Waterfall (NaeSeorak)

Encounter picturesque streams and wildlife (image via Sabrina Ariana, Flickr)
Encounter picturesque streams and wildlife (image via Sabrina Ariana, Flickr)

This magnificent waterfall is famous as the favorite spot of King Gyeong-Sun, the Silla Kingdom’s last king. It towers over 80 meters and remains unrivalled in its natural splendor.

Best Time to Visit

Plan your visit to witness fall foliage cover most of the park
Plan your visit to witness fall foliage cover most of the park

Ideal months: Mid-October – Early November

The changing autumn leaves peak around this time. We recommend planning your hike on weekdays to avoid foot traffic. For solitude-seekers, head to the secluded side of the park (Inner Seorak).

Tips & Tricks for First-Timers

Enjoy your fall hike through Seoraksan National Park (image via Chris Campbell, Flickr)
Enjoy your fall hike through Seoraksan National Park (image via Chris Campbell, Flickr)
  • Arrive as early as possible at OeSeorak! Imagine trying to climb with a lot of people trying to push past you (so not cool!)
  • Get a map from the Seoraksan National Park Visitor Center. Maps are available in both Korean and English
  • Exercise caution especially at the highest peak, Daecheongbong Peak. It is not uncommon to see injured hikers airlifted due to accidents
  • What to wear: thermal wear and a lot of layers! Think long sleeves, hiking jacket, gloves, pants, and sporty shoes
  • What to bring: bottled water, snacks, camera, flashlight, snacks, cash (for souvenirs and entrance fees)

Put your hiking boots on and embark on a colorful journey at Seoraksan National Park. With all our tips, we hope you’ll enjoy the best mountain destination for fall in South Korea!