Photo: Naejangsan Mountain
Cool temperatures and colors change from the vibrant greens of summer to a rich palette of red, orange and yellow, signaling the arrival of autumn. Though numerous areas across Korea offer brilliant displays of autumn leaves, the mountains are still considered the quintessential destination.
This year, the leaves are expected to change color around late September at Seoraksan Mountain and spread southwards across the central and southern parts of Korea. Fall foliage generally reaches its peak in two weeks from the time the leaves begin to change, meaning this year’s peak foliage is expected to hit the central region around late October, and the southern region around early November. This is when you can hit the road to revel in the splendor of the changing of the 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. There are plenty of hiking trails along the mountainside. When planning your hiking route, take into account that the best places to view leaves are 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, the mountain bustles with campers and guests at natural recreation forest lodges, especially during peak foliage season around mid-October. During busier times, the road from Myeonggae-ri, located to the north of Woljeongsa Temple, often offers more convenient access to Odaesan Mountain.
Beloved in Korea, Jirisan Mountain is rugged in form and impressive in scale. During peak foliage season in late October, the slopes blaze with brilliant colors in the rocky landscape, while Piagol Valley and Baemsagol Valley offer great hiking trails. Jirisan also extends across three provinces (Jeollanam-do, Jeollabukm-do, Gyeongsangnam-do), and many choose to go on overnight hiking trips to fully appreciate the mountain.
Second only to Seoraksan Mountain, Naejangsan National Park boasts a high volume of visitors every year. The most remarkable feature of this mountain during autumn is the tunnel of multicolored maple trees that begins at the ticket office.
Juwangsan National Park is characterized by rocky peaks, deep valleys and elegant waterfalls. There are several hiking trails and among them, Juwang Valley Course is one of the easier courses that offer a beautiful fall foliage view, and takes about four hours to complete. At dawn, the thick fog blanketing Jusanji Pond near Juwangsan Mountain, combined with the reflection of trees in the water, continues to attract visitors, especially photographers, to the mountain every year.
Tip) Though no admission fee is required to enter the national parks, separate fees may be applicable for the temples or cultural heritage sites found within the parks. For reference, the general admission for cultural heritage sites is 3,000 won.
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* This column was last updated in September 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.
<Last updated on September 12, 2016>