Cooling temperatures followed by the changing leaves from the vibrant greens of summer to a rich palette of red, orange, and yellow signal the arrival of autumn. Although numerous areas across Korea offer brilliant displays of fall foliage, the mountains are still considered a quintessential destination.
This year, the leaves are expected to change color around mid-October at Seoraksan Mountain and spread south across the central and southern parts of Korea. Fall foliage generally reaches its peak two weeks from the time the leaves begin to change, meaning this year’s peak foliage is expected to reach the central region around late October, and the southern region in early November. This is when you can hit the road with friends, family, or loved ones to revel in the splendor of the changing seasons.
When it comes to autumn destinations, the first mountain that comes to mind for most is Seoraksan Mountain. A feast for the eyes throughout the year, rich colors make Seoraksan a main attraction in autumn. The most popular route to see the view of the East Sea, Sokcho and Daecheongbong Peak is the Ulsanbawi Rock Course, whereas the best places to enjoy the leaves are at Cheonbuldong Valley, Osaek Mineral Spring, Osaek Jujeongol, and Baekdam Valley.
Odaesan Mountain’s vibrant fall foliage puts it on the map as an autumn destination. A popular vacation site year round, it is especially attractive during peak foliage season around mid-October, when many visitors go to see the change in leaves. Seonjae-gil Course that starts off at Woljeongsa Temple is a popular trail with mostly flat walking paths and beautiful fall foliage along the stream.
Jirisan Mountain is loved among Koreans for its beautiful charm. During peak foliage season in late October, the slopes blaze with brilliant colors. The areas around Ssanggyesa Temple, Piagol Valley, and Baemsagol Valley in particular are outstanding at this time. Jirisan extends across three provinces (Jeollanam-do, Jeollabuk-do, Gyeongsangnam-do), and many visitors choose to go on overnight hiking trips to fully appreciate the mountain. For those looking for a good hiking course, Hwaeom Valley Trail is the representative trail of Jeollanam-do.
Naejangsan National Park boasts a high volume of visitors in late October, as to be expected from a top foliage destination. The most remarkable feature of this mountain during autumn is the tunnel of multicolored maple trees that begins at the ticket office. The maple trees that make up this tunnel stretch for approximately 800 meters planted at 5-meter intervals, making photos taken here appear perfectly composed.
Juwangsan National Park is characterized by rocky peaks, deep valleys and elegant waterfalls. Among the many hiking trails, Juwanggyegok Valley Course is one of the easier courses that offers a beautiful fall foliage view, and takes about two hours to complete. At dawn, the scenery of thick fog blanketing Jusanji Reservoir near Juwangsan Mountain, combined with the reflection of trees in the water, attracts visitors, especially photographers, to the mountain every year.
* This column was last updated in October 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.