My favorite hikes in Seoul have long been around the Bukhansan region. Bukhansan is a large region, and there are too many hikes to list.
There is a new trail on Bukhansan as well: Dule-gil. Rather than every other hike in the area (in the country, perhaps), it does not consist of a steep trails that race to the peak. Instead, it’s 63 kilometers of trail that winds through isolated regions of Seoul, past Buddhist temples, through pine-covered mountain forests, along mansion-decorated streets, and even some wildlife.
We have so far only hike about a quarter of Dule-gil, though we hope to hike the whole thing consecutively. (Part of it, the Uiryeong-gil section, needs to be booked in advanced.)
It’s incredibly well-sign posted, and like many good hikes, it’s always changing. Even though you don’t climb up any peaks (there are bountiful side-trips available) it climbs and dips repeatedly. As the path is a circle, you can start from many different places. We chose to begin from Yeonsinnae, a subway stop far up the North Line (far up for us southies, anyway.)
There really are signs everywhere. Some are small, attesting to the fact that you are still on Dule-gil.
Others, less frequent but probably still every half-hour or so, give you a map of the entire hike. These are useful not just to confirm where you are, but they let you know nearby subway stops, convenience stores, and motels.
The stretch of road that we hiked includes a significant portion along Pyeonchang-gil. This incredibly fancy street (by Seoul standards) has designer houses, embassies, and amazing views of the mountains.
There is always something unexpected in Korea. In this case, we ran into a de facto library, located on a walkway that meandered into a pine forest.
A nice thing about hiking in winter is that there aren’t too many crowds. Another advantage is that it’s easier to dress for the cold than to deal with the intense summer heat. Most of all, though, you can find some pretty stellar winter vistas.
Hiking Dule-gil might be my absolute favorite thing in Seoul. A hike that includes the best of mountain scenery and urban wandering is rather Yeti-friendly indeed. We also saw a squirrel, some “eating dogs” that had escaped, a loony adjumma who said she was lost and then showed us her house, and some Koreans who greeted us in German.
Hiking the rest of it, in other seasons, shouldn’t be the worst thing ever.