Hiking in Seoul: Suraksan

View from the top of Suraksan

Suraksan stands at the northeastern corner of Seoul’s city limits, across the valley from Dobongsan (which is part of Bukhansan National Park). Standing at 638m it’s the 3rd highest mountain proper in Seoul (i.e. not counting subsidiary peaks), and has a reputation for providing the same beauty you can enjoy on other mountains but with fewer people on the trail.

Personally I don’t think the views are quite as spectacular as those from Dobongsan, Bukhansan, and Gwanaksan, but they’re certainly still nice and this is a good hike to tackle if you’ve already done those others. There’s also a couple of attractive mountainside temples to visit, Hangnimsa and Yonggulam.

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Festival preparations underway at Hangnimsa

Yongguram Temple, Suraksan

Nice views from Yonggulam

The route described here starts from Danggogae Station (Line 4) and finishes at Suraksan Station (Line 7). The upper part of the hike is the same, with the trail splitting to each station for the lower part. You can start & finish at either of course, but the temples are located on the route from Danggogae while the Suraksan Station area’s a lively suburb with plenty of food & drink options making it a good place to finish.

From Danggogae Station you first have to pick your way through the local suburb, a cranky little corner of Seoul with a proper old-school vibe. Leaving the station by exit 5 you’ll be here:

Way to Suraksan from Danggogae Station

Follow the guy with cardboard boxes up to the left:

Way to Suraksan from Danggogae Station

…and turn right at the top (the yellow sign reads 학림사, Hangnimsa). Then left again in front of the apartment block, continuing to follow the signs for 학림사:

Way to Suraksan from Danggogae Station

Way to Suraksan from Danggogae Station

Way to Suraksan from Danggogae Station

This is the road up to Hangnimsa, so just head on up to the temple (which you should reach in about 20 minutes). The road itself isn’t so interesting, so you could always take a taxi to Hangnimsa from the station (or direct from wherever) and start your hike from there.

Road to Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Road to Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Hangnimsa in traditional Chinese characters, 鶴林寺 (Stork Forest Temple)

Road to Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Directly transliterated 학림사 is Hakrimsa, but the correct pronunciation is Hangnimsa

It’s a neat little temple with some nice see/hear/speak no evil monkey statues:

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Once you’re done at the temple, head back out and then up the steps to the side:

Hangnimsa Temple, Suraksan

Follow the trail up through the forest until you pass directly under an electricity pylon. Turning left at this point takes you down to Suraksan Station, but first turn right up the hill for the main bit of the hike. After a short distance you’ll come to a turnoff on the right for Yonggulam temple (용굴암), with the man trail to the left:

Suraksan hiking trail

Yonggulam’s built onto a steep slope with nice views to the south and a standing buddha:

Yongguram Temple, Suraksan

Yongguram Temple, Suraksan

After visiting Yonggulam (or not), continue on up the main trail from where you get some views of Dobongsan across the valley to the west:

View of Dobongsan from Suraksan

Suraksan

Looking up towards the summit

The trail’s easy enough to follow, with plenty of signs along the way. You’re heading for 수락산정상 (Suraksan Jeongsang, Suraksan summit):

Suraksan hiking trail

There are quite a few good viewpoints as you climb, culminating in the best ones from the top:

View from the top of Suraksan

View from the top of Suraksan

View from the top of Suraksan

View from the top of Suraksan

Once you’ve enjoyed the views, head back down the same way but when you reach the power line you can go straight ahead instead of going under the pylon towards Hangnimsa.

Suraksan hiking trail

This sign is just next to the electricity pylon. For Suraksan Station follow 수락산역

This takes you down a pleasant path through the forest and eventually back to suburbia in the vicinity of Suraksan Station:

Suraksan hiking trail

Suraksan hiking trail

It’s a good area for a post-hike feed & beer. When you’re ready for the train, the station’s a short walk to the right along the main road at this neon gate:

Suraksan Station area

Click here for more hiking in Seoul

Have you climbed Suraksan? How was it? Got any questions? Leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Useful Links

Accommodation: search & book rooms in Seoul

See my Korea page for general info on travelling in Korea, and more Korea posts here

Check out my hiking guides for TaipeiKyoto and Tokyo

Also make sure you have a good insurance policy… World Nomads offer flexible travel insurance you can buy even if already overseas – most travel insurance companies won’t cover you if you’ve already left your country, and this can be a crucial point as I once found out the hard way in Thailand.

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