Cooling temperatures and leaves changing 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 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 two weeks from the time the leaves begin to change, meaning this year’s peak foliage is expected to hit the central region around mid-October, and the southern region in late October. 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 northern region, away from Woljeongsa Temple, often offers more convenient access to Odaesan Mountain. In particular, there is a city bus stop near Sangwonsa Temple, making it easy for travelers without their own vehicles.
Jirisan Mountain is beloved among Koreans, often considered a feminine mountain due to its lovely 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 beautiful 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.
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 many maple trees that make up this tunnel were planted at 5m 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, Juwang Valley Course is one of the easier courses that offers 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.
* This column was last updated in September 2017, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.