CLICK here for high resolution printable trail map (1.16 MB).
Songnisan* became a national park in 1970. It’s the 6th largest of Korea’s mountain parks with an area of 275 km2. The name means “Remote from the Ordinary World”—a reference to its somewhat isolated position in the center of South Korea. The mountains belong to the southern arm of the greater Sobaek Range, and the park lies on the border between North Chungcheong and North Gyeongsong Provinces.
In 1999, someone decided to cash in on the name of a famous set of mountains in Europe by dubbing the ridge that connects Gubyeongsan, Songnisan, Gwaneumbong and Sanhakbong the Chungbuk Alps. The name is a little misleading, as the highest mountain here is only a humble 1,058 meters. On the English brochure available at the tourist center in the Songni-dong Bus Terminal building, it states: “A hiking path was opened and transformed into a commercial product.” This perhaps says something about how Koreans view their mountains and is a hint that hiking here might not always be peaceful and relaxing. The park gets about 1.5 million visitors a year.
*Don't be confused by the spelling. The Korean letters spell out "Sokrisan" but the name is actually pronounced "Songnisan."
Songnisan is very scenic. On wet days clouds often catch in the valleys between the mountains, creating a dramatic layered effect. In the spring, the area is known for the brilliant pink azaleas that bloom on the mountainsides. The mountains have a craggy look, with lots of interesting granite out-croppings and cliffs.
The park is great for beginning hikers with lots of nice easy-to-moderate day hikes. The mountain range is shaped like the back of an ampitheater, with the ridge curving around the valley from south to west. Along this boney semi-circle are 8 small peaks. Starting in the south and going northwest they are: Peak 1 (721 m), Hyeongjebong (803 m), Cheonhwangbong (1,058 m), Birobong (1,032 m), Munsubong (1,031 m), Gwaneumbong (985 m), Myobong (874 m), and Sanhakbong (861 m).
Take an express bus from Busan Nopo-dong Bus Terminal to Daejeon Dongbu Express Bus Terminal. Cross the street to Daejeon Intercity Bus Terminal and take a local bus to Songnisan National Park.
BUSAN Nopo-dong Terminal ► DAEJEON Express Bus Terminal
Fare: W20,000 / (W13,600)
Duration: 3 hours
07:30 09:00 12:00 14:00 (15:30) 17:30 19:00
To get to Daejeon Intercity Terminal from Daejeon Dongbu Express Bus Terminal, exit the building, turn left, cross the street and turn left again. Follow the sidewalk for about 5 minutes.
DAEJEON Intercity Terminal ► SONGNISAN NAT’L PARK Bus Terminal
Duration: 90 minutes
07:00 ◄ Every 40-60 minutes ► 19:00
Get off the bus at Songni-dong tourist village at the entrance to the park.
SONGNISAN NAT'L PARK Bus Terminal ► DAEJEON Intercity Terminal
Duration: 90 minutes
07:00 07:28 08:10 09:05 10:15 11:20 12:10 12:55 13:50 14:30 15:20 16:20 17:20 17:40 18:30 19:10 20:00
DAEJEON East Express Bus Terminal ► BUSAN Nopo-dong Terminal
Duration: 3 hours
07:30 ◄ Every 30-50 minutes ► 19:00
SLEEPING & EATING
Songni-dong, like most national park villages in Korea, is packed with hotels, yeogwon (inns), and minbak (guesthouses). You can find something without difficulty by wandering for a few minutes among the sidestreets. Clean, comfortable single rooms with a private bathroom, TV, and yeo (Korean floor mattress) are easy to find for W20,000/night. If you’re in a group, you can get a shared room and save even more money. The main street is lined with scores of restaurants that don’t seem to deviate much from a set menu of soups, barbeque, and bibimbap. There are dozens of bars. The area around the hotels and minbak is full of noraebang (singing rooms). For the tiny size of the village, it sure seems to be an active place a night, with plenty of drunks staggering around or passed out in the middle of the road (I witnessed both). There are also plenty of small mini-marts, but the range of products is limited. Bring your own snacks and trail food with you.
There’s a fake waterfall off the main street that is lit-up at night and attracts lots of attention. There’s also a nice grassy park, filled with modern art sculptures (the first time I visited Songnisan I spent the night under a bush in this park). That's about the extent of the little "town."
A large campground can be found to the east of the village, but it’s only open in July and August. The whole campground thing is quite undeveloped in Korea, and it has been explained to me that this is because the average Korean finds camping too inconvenient and uncomfortable.
Beopju Temple, at the entrance to the park, is one of the largest Buddhist complexes in Korea. It dates back to 553 A.D., but like most historical structures in Korea, the actual buildings were burned to the ground by the Japanese during the 1592 invasion. It was rebuilt in 1624. The highlights of this temple are the Daungbojeon prayer hall with three huge golden Buddhas; the 5-floor Palsangjeon, largest of the wooden pagodas in Korea; and the 33-meter bronze Buddha statue. Even though the latter was only constructed in 1990, it is impressive for its sheer size. There’s also a large Buddha image carved into a massive boulder on the grounds.
There are no trail closures in this park.
VIEW OTHER TRAIL CLOSURES ON THE KNPS WEBSITE
[Park Office] : 19-1 Sangpan-ri Naesongni-myeon Boeun Chungbuk
[Tel] : 82-43-542-5267
OFFICIAL KNPS SONGNISAN WEBSITE (English)
(Contributed by Alex)