We are back on The Seoul Trail after a three month hiatus! The weather is perfect for a good hike. Let’s do this!
Overview: Although this section of the hike may seem like a 10km gruelling marathon, most of the hike is through the city and is on flat land. Overall, there were only a few hills at the end that caused us to break a sweat. We completed the entire hike in three hours. Personally, this was one of the most enjoyable walks on The Seoul Trail thus far.
How to get there: This leg of the trail begins at Gwangnaru Station. You need to depart from Exit 2 and make an immediate left en route to Gwangjin Bridge.
Gwangjin Bridge and The Han River: Gwangjin Bridge is a pedestrian bridge located in the heart of the city. With its piano benches, it is a quirky, but relaxing bridge. Crossing the bridge is an excellent chance for some rememberable photo opportunities. In the distance, looking towards the south, is the Lotte Tower (hopefully still standing as you read this). The Lotte Tower is still under construction, but in the near future will be the centre piece of the Seoul skyline south of the Han. The Han River itself is a marvel. It’s one of the few moments when Seoullites look up from their cellphones on the subway and stare at its enormity.
Hangang Park: The next section of the trail takes us through a small part of Hangang Park. If you have a kiddo on the hike, this might be a good place to stop and let them burn off some steam. There is a small bike park, a skate park, a playground and a radio controlled airplane park if that is what you are in to. There are also tennis courts and a pool (although it was empty when we passed by) For a bit, it feels like you will never leave the park. The bike path feels as though it will go on for an eternity. Thoughts of purgatory come to mind. That said, there are some great photo ops of flowers and various vegetation normally not found in the concrete jungle of Seoul. Take a moment to enjoy that.
Amsa-Dong Prehistoric Sites, Fancy Houses and Big, Scary Spiders: There is about 6km left on this section after leaving Hangang Park. Our group hammered this out in about an hour, so you really can take your time if you are making a day of this section. As we continued our tour, we passed the Amsa-Dong Prehistoric Site, which focuses on life in the Neolithic Era (7000-1000BCE). As with Hangang Park, this might be an excellent stopping point for the kids. The houses on this section of the tour is like nothing seen before in Seoul. It is a rare thing to see an actual house with a mailbox and a yard, but in Seowon Meul (서원마을), they seem to be plentiful. And you know what that means… dolla, dolla, bills y’all. Heads up for the spiders. They are huge and scary as shit. I don’t know if they are poisonous (probably not) but I wouldn’t risk it.
Godeok Mountain (고덕산) and the last 2km: The last leg of the journey is the most challenging from a physically perspective, but rewarding from an observational perspective. Godeok mountain is not that physically straining, but there is one particular part where it feels like you are climbing Everest. You’ll know it when you get to it. I think its so strenuous because it comes out of nowhere. Anyway, the shade from the trees was refreshing and there were a couple of nice, quiet resting spots. Take advantage of that. Oh and if you feel like some Boshintang (보신탕) aka dog soup, there is a shop that sells it on the way. Good luck adventurous traveller.
A tricky bridge right at the end: We were down to under a kilometre when there was a little curveball thrown our way. After you cross a bridge heading towards Godeok station, there is a part in the bridge. One set of stairs will go down to street level and one will lead across to another bridge. Take the bridge leading across on your right. You will cross a couple of more bridges before heading back down to street level. Once you get there, it’s a cakewalk all the way to Godeok station.
Final Thoughts: A little bit of park, a little bit of concrete jungle and a small mountain. That sums up Seoul in about one sentence. This was one of the most diverse parts of the trail and the easiest. If you are a beginner hiker or just looking for an easy hike, this section would be suitable. Keep on hiking in the free world!