The section so nice, we reviewed it twice. Needless to say, with the spring in full bloom and the hot, humid summer looming around the corner, it’s a great time to get out do some hiking. We tackled the whole hike in one day; granted a long, long day, but it is feasible. My suggestion, especially for novice hikers, is to break this section into a two-day hike. The second part of the hike is much more demanding, and I would highly recommend a good pair of hiking boots and some gear, including a hiking stick if you own one. As they say, going down is harder than climbing up (TWSS).
Down Yongmasan and to Achasan Mountain Fortress: I have to admit, I have a bit of a fascination with ancient Korean fortresses. The design, the structure and the fact that they are located on a freaking mountain is pretty impressive. In fact, the Achasan Mountain Fortress is a whole hiking section by itself. Unfortunately, the majority of the signage is in Korean, so it is tough to follow and understand. However, Achasan Fortress has some amazing vantage points of the city for excellent photography. There are also some interesting relics and if you have ever wanted to get drunk on a top of a mountain and a fortress at the same time, well sir or madam, your wish can be easily granted.
Mount Achasan Fortress Trail: The Mount Achasan Fortress Trail is a separate trail, but is partially connected to the Seoul Trail. There is information in English about various relics and sites. Also, there is a sign asking people not to drink or eat on the fortress. This sign did not stop the ajosshis from busting out the soju, beer and kimbap.
Goguryeojeong Pavilion: On the way down from Achasan Mountain is a Goguryeojeong Pavilion. The Goguryeojeong was built to commemorate the Goguryeo Dynasty. The pavilion made for some great photo opportunities and the kids can go into the pavilion to check it out. You know kids, they love to go inside stuff.
The last 2km. Finish strong: 7km in and my legs are starting to gelatinize. The last drops of my water bottle gone 2km ago. At this point in the hike, I’m starting to curse myself for not calling it a day back up on Yongmasan. My physically fit companions have yet to break a sweat. One last deep breath. One step at a time. Finish strong.
Food and Drink: Pack a lot of food and drinks for the hike because there are absolutely no places to purchase anything. I mean, after all, you are on top of a mountain. The end of the section, there were a couple of Korean restaurants if that suits your tastes, but nothing western if you are dying for a rewarding burger. No BBQ either. Some Samgyeopsal would have been perfect.
Final Thoughts: A challenging but very rewarding hike! My favourite section of The Seoul Trail so far. If you are going to do this in a day, you will probably need to give yourself an entire day to hike it. I would recommend some hiking boots as well. My poor old New Balances took a beating on the trail. Another reason to give yourself plenty of time is for the excellent photo opportunities and to have a little break on one of the mountains and just enough the cool, refreshing mountain air. I can almost promise you that if you are from out of town, you will be offered more than your fair share of Korean spirits. Keep in mind, you will have to come down at some point.