Greatest Hiking List to Make the Most of a Year in Korea — Hiking Korea's Mountains: A National Parks Challenge

When I decided to teach English in South Korea for a year, one of the things that influenced my decision most was the landscape I would be moving to. I was getting more and more into hiking and backpacking, and the thought of living in a mountainous country couldn’t be more exciting. Romantic notions of hiking Korea’s mountains, walking along misty trails in peace and solitude, filled my dreams — and most of my trip-planning time! I knew what it would take to make the most of a year in Korea.

A view of the mountain range at Sobaeksan National Park, seen while hiking Korea's mountains.
Sobaeksan National Park

And I wasn’t disappointed! I chose to live in Busan, where there are plenty of great walking spots and hiking trails. To ensure I stayed on track to make the most of a year in Korea, I pinned up my tourist map of South Korea on my apartment wall and circled all the places I wanted to visit with a pink pen. And when I went somewhere, I would trace the pink ink over with a blue marker.

After a few months, I met a fellow CouchSurfer who told me his goal was to hike all of Korea’s national parks. I hadn’t formulated it to myself that way, but I liked the idea, and I’d already hiked a couple of national and provincial parks. So now, for the very first time, I realized that I had a hiking bucket list! This certainly helped me make the most of a year in Korea!

View from Janggungbong, the peak at Jogyesan Provincial Park, seen while hiking to make the most of a year in Korea.
Jogyesan Provincial Park


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I didn’t make it to every single national park, but almost! And I did add quite a few provincial parks to the list as well (smiley face). I got to see so much of the country and meet so many wonderful people while hiking Korea’s mountains. This challenge definitely motivated me to make the most of a year in Korea! Here’s how my experiences hiking abroad turned out, starting from Korea’s northernmost province southwards, more or less…

Find out more about the parks above by reading 7 Terrific Trails Easily Seen From Seoul.

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Conclusion

So in the end, there are only five of Korea’s national parks that I didn’t visit:

  • Tae-an Seashore National Park in Chungcheongnam-do
  • Gyeongju National Park in Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • Deogyusan in Jeollabuk-do
  • Byeonsan Peninsula National Park, also in Jeollabuk-do
  • Dadohae Maritime National Park in Jeollanam-do

And of course, there are many provincial parks I missed, too. But I was always busy hiking somewhere to make the most of a year in Korea, and that’s what matters.

Verdant scenery from Cheongnyangsan Provincial Park, seen while hiking to make the most of a year in Korea.
Cheongnyangsan Provincial Park

Because hiking Korea’s mountains helped shape the hiker I am today. It’s been just over six years since I came back to Ontario and began to explore my home province’s parks. Had I not participated in this national parks challenge, who knows if it would have occurred to me to blog about my trekking staycations?

For even more about my travels to Korea, check out Memories of a Carnivore (Affiliate Disclosure). I wrote much of it on the bus while travelling to and from the parks on this list (smiley face).

Further Reading

For another great list of hikes in Korea, check out the Hiking Odometer at Klimbing Korean Mountains. Like my own list above, it’s not a bucket list per se, but rather a checklist. Still, if you’re looking to make the most of a year in Korea, it’s handy!