A pine tree truck is on the left, with branches comoing out in contrast to the blue sky.  Below, in the background, is a granite mountain ridge, mostly covered with forest.

After leaving Sobaeksan and Chungju Lake, I continued westwards across Chungcheong-buk province.

A map which shows that Chungcheong-buk province is in the center of South Korea, and that Woraksan is in the center of Chungcheong-buk.

A Korean told me that any mountain with ‘ak’ in the name (Woraksan, Seoraksan, Chiaksan, etc.) is particularly steep and difficult to hike up.

Bright blue clear sky.  A sole pine tree rises on the right, and its green crown hangs above a large granite rock face with the image of a Buddha carved upon it.

This is Ma-aebul, an ancient carving depicting the Buddha. Legend claims that it was carved at the request of one of the last princesses of Silla, who was distressed by the ancient kingdom’s imminent collapse, yet the artistic style indicates this was carved during the Goryeo dynasty (the name ‘Korea’ comes from the Arab name for ‘Goryeo’). There is a small hermitage nearby, and I heard prayers as I passed by.

A closer view of the Buddha carving

A closer view of the Buddha carving

The National Park people have highly developed the trail up to Yeongbong, the highest peak of Woraksan, so one doesn’t need any kind of skill to hike it now, but it is still very steep once you pass Ma-aebul.

In the foreground, on the bottom, is a little pine.  Beyond, there is granite mountain partially covered by green and yellow plants.  Far in the distance can be seen the blue water of Chungju lake and the mountains which encircle the lake.  Above is the blue sky.

Chungju Lake, seen from above

I did this hike the day after I went on a boat on Chungju Lake, so after the ridiculously steep ascent, I was rewarded with the view of the lake from above.

We are looking down at a granite peak covered with some very tough pine trees.  Beyond, we see many forested mountains in the distance.

I originally planned to go all the way to Yeongbong, the highest peak. However, once I passed the point where Chungju Lake was first visible, I changed my mind. From that peak to Yeongbong was not much altitude gain, just a twisty up-and-down trail over granite rock without much promise of spectacular views until near Yeongbong itself. I decided to conserve my time and energy for something else (which will be in the next post), and satisfied myself with merely looking at the peak of Yeongbong.

Yeongbong, the highest peak in Woraksan

Yeongbong, the highest peak in Woraksan

This meant I got through a very scenic section of the hike twice.

There were more and more hikers, and they were astonished that I had completed the hike so early. I didn’t tell them that I turned around before reaching Yeongbong.

We see a pine branch extended above, hanging over an expanse of blue sky.  Below, we see a long grantie mountain ridge, partially covered by dark green plants.

My reward for turning around was seeing a real, wild Korean snake.
A long snake crosses granite rock

Another reward was seeing a real, wild Korean woodpecker, and getting a photograph before it flew away.

A woodpecker with a red belly, black wings with white stripes, a red crown, and otherwise mostly white feathers, pecks at a tree

Woraksan had been the site of an ancient fortress, and a bit of the ancient wall remains.

The remains of a stone wall sit next to a road in the forest

All and all, it’s a beautiful (albeit steep) hike which combines history, culture, mountain vistas, and wild critters.

We see orange maple leaves on a branch in the foreground.  In the background is a stream, which shows a reflection of the blue sky above.


About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Ancient History, Chungcheongbuk, Forest, Hike, Mostly Photos, National Park and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Woraksan

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