Many mountains are said to be beautiful. But the view of nature at Yongpyong Resort and Balwangsan Mountain is something else entirely. The view of the mountains cascading like the sea, the blue sky, and the mountain breeze that stays cool at high summer, Balwangsan Mountain has a way of filling its visitors with a uniquely refreshing energy.
The view from the summit of a mountain often comes after hours of arduous hike through the mountain. This makes the view difficult to access for many, despite the beauty of the scenery. Balwangsan Mountain, however, is different: It is a mountain that is open to anyone. By using cable cars, young and old alike can enjoy the view of Pyeongchang’s mountains, the “Alps of Korea”, at the summit of Balwangsan Mountain. The view of the scenery, of course, cannot be put into words in a way that does it justice. Since August 2020, Balwangsan Ki Skywalk, the most recent addition to the mountain, has impressed the beholders even further. Don’t be surprised to hear yourself cry out, “wow!”, as you step outside the elevator with reinforced glass windows. When you stand on top of the Skywalk, located 1,458m above sea level, you truly feels as if you are walking on the cloud. Let yourself walk slowly, giving you time to adjust to the heights, and let the view of the Balwangsan Mountain and the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range wash over you. On clear days, you can even see the Gangneung sea far beyond, and if you find the right time, you can see the sunrise from the East Sea or the sunset to the west. A turntable viewing platform sits at the center of the Skywalk for a 360-degree view of the surrounding areas. The Skywalk is also served by a number of decked trails that offer accessibility to baby strollers and wheelchairs.
As you walk along the lush yew forest, you will soon find yourself at Balwangsu Garden. Balwangsu Garden is home to the eponymous natural mineral water spring 1,458m above sea level. In comparison to other mineral water, Balwangsu is low in sodium and high in silicon, vanadium, and other beneficial mineral content. In local folklore, Balwangsu is said to symbolize wealth and long life, as well as the virtues of wisdom and love that a ruler must possess. Take a long drink of Balwangsan mineral water, and make a wish for a fulfilling and healthy life.
Balwangsan Mountain’s yew forest is a protected area home to curiously shaped trees. The largest Norway spruce habitat in Korea, the hawthorn with the largest circumference in Korea, the humble tree that got its name from the interesting shape (people who walk across the forest must bend their heads as if bowing to go past the tree.) and the Seoul National University tree that resembles the SNU symbol are fun just to watch.
The forest dates back to the 1960s, planted at a former slash-and-fire farm left behind by the relocation of the farmers as a part of a natural regeneration project. The Mayumok tree, located near the summit, is a one-of-a-kind tree that is always included in exploration courses through the Balwangsan Mountain.
It is the only dual-species combined tree in which a rowan tree seed sprouted inside a Siberian crabapple and become rooted inside its trunk. The name mayu tree means it is a one-of-a-kind rowan tree. As the rowan tree grew, the Siberian crabapple became twisted, creating a magnificent bark. People marvel at this tree because it carries the symbol of coexistence. Even though the Siberian crabapple is old enough to die, thanks to the rowan tree it is still standing firm. The forest is deep as it contains many tress. There are eight trekking courses that continue from the resort to the summit including the Wisdom Forest A leisurely walk through the peaceful forest allows one to feel the act of healing with one’s body.
Balwangsan Mountain’s cable car system, which has the distinction of being the longest cable car ride in Korea with a total distance of 7.4km, offers the visitors the easiest way to access Balwangsan Mountain’s summit. Because of its length, it doubles as a wonderful opportunity for the riders to take in the view of the mountain. Cable car services also continue until relatively late hours, so lucky visitors may have a view of the sunset with their ride. Riding on the sky with the cable car is certainly a special way to enjoy the Balwangsan Mountain. You can even plug into the Bluetooth system in the cable car and provide your own soundtrack for the ride.