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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 16th, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Things to Do in Korea: Suraksan Mountain

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Just south of Uijongbu on the opposite side of Dobongsan Mountain and just as accessible to any potential visitors is the lesser known Suraksan Mountain. Suraksan is not as picturesque as it’s western neighbor Dobongsan or as high, but does have its own type of charm and offers spectacular views of northern Seoul and the surrounding countryside. Much like Dobongsan, Suraksan has various trials to explore the mountain from, but I highly recommend tackling the 637 meter summit from the trail beginning near the Seoul Subway Line 7, Jang-am Station entrance I have highlighted below:

As you walk up the trail you will find that this mountain is not nearly as crowded compared to Dobongsan and other mountains in Korea. The transition from dense urban jungle to isolated forest is really incredible. Not to far up the trail you will come upon this picturesque Buddhist temple:

For those that have never visited a Buddhist temple before in Korea the Suklim Temple here on Surak mountain is very easy to access, the monks are quite friendly, and is worth a visit if you are planning on hiking the mountain anyway. This temple was first constructed in 1671 and was totally destroyed during the Korean War. It was rebuilt in 1960 and continues to operate to this day. The temple features this beautiful Buddhist statue lined with many mini-Buddhas:

I’m not sure if the monks are growing these peppers or not, but the multiple fields of vegetables near the temple can definitely make you wish for dwenjangchigae or some deokbokki:

Here is a scenic view looking towards the west and back at Dobong Mountain from the area near Suklim temple:

Once you pass the temple the trail narrows off, becomes rougher in some spots, and is surrounded by thick foliage that is only broken up by the occasional large boulder:

The trail will then become steeper and ascend up the side of the mountain and breaks through the thick foliage, providing you with your first views of the upper peaks of the mountain from the trail:

Eventually the trail ascends high enough up the mountain to offer you your first views of northern Seoul and even Pukhansan Mountain far to the west:

As you continue up the mountain eventually views of Uijongbu will eventually open up as well:

When you reach the upper peaks of Suraksan, that is when the real fun begins because you then have to do a bit of rock climbing to reach the top of the mountain:

Fortunately the park service has ropes installed to help climbers. I always pack leather gloves when hiking because to protect my hands when climbing ropes like the ones you need to use to climb this mountain. Additionally you must wear an adequate pair of hiking shoes with good traction to help you scramble up these large rocks towards the summit of the mountain. Here is a view of the ridge line the trail follows up the mountain and the many large boulders and rock faces that must be climbed to reach the summit:

Once you have climbed up to the upper reaches of the mountain, it is just a matter of picking a peak you want to climb. There are a number of rocky pinnacles on the upper reaches of the mountain that climbers go for to get away from the crowds heading for the summit:

If you look closely on the above picture you can see the climbers sitting on top of the rocky pinnacle.

Often hikers in Korea, like the ones you see in the above picture, bring a lunch with them and have a picnic on the summits of mountains here. Surak mountain is no different and if you didn’t bring a lunch there is of course always an enterprising odashi willing to sell you one:

High up on the mountain there is a group of odashis that sell snacks, ramen noodles, Gatorades, water, etc. to hikers. These guys are making a small fortune by, for example selling ramen noodles for four dollars a bowl and their other items are similarly over-priced. You have to admire them though for carrying all those coolers of stuff up the mountain early in the morning every day and then hiking back down the mountain at the end of day with their coolers and whatever they didn’t sell.

What else you have to admire about these guys was that they actually have trash bags to put everyone’s garbage in, instead of leaving it up on the mountain as is commonly done in Korea. These guys actually went around with the trash bags and picked up people’s trash from them. They actually do a fairly good job keeping the upper reaches of the mountain clean considering the amount of hikers up there every day.

Anyway, if you are determined to reach the actual summit of the mountain, just follow the crowds towards it. The mountain actually does get crowded towards the summit compared to the trail you hiked up the mountain on because all the trails leading up the mountain in various directions converge on the summit.

Here is view looking towards the summit from the trail:

If you look closely you can see the Korean flag, known as a Taeguki waving on the summit. Once up on the summit you will have to wait your turn to stand on top because there is literally a long line waiting to reach the mountain’s summit and have their picture taken with the Taeguki. When you eventually reach your turn to stand on the summit, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of Uijongbu to the north:

Additionally you have a dramatic view from the summit of Dobong mountain to the west:

If you look really closely on the above picture you can actually see Camp Jackson where the USFK Non-commissioned Officer and KATUSA training academy is located on the slopes of Dobong mountain just above overpass.

Here is the view from the summit looking towards the south:

Once again if you look closely you can see hikers sitting on the various rocky pinnacles of the mountain. Also notice the increased smog towards the south because of the polluted air over Seoul. Uijongbu has plenty of smog as well, but it’s air is noticeably cleaner than Seoul’s.

From the summit you have the option of taking a number of different trails back down the mountain or just retracing your steps back to Jang-am Station. If you are a US military servicemember an option for you is to hike down the eastern slope of the mountain towards Camp Stanley. The middle trail on the mountain’s east side pictured on the prior map actually ends right next to Camp Stanley. At Camp Stanley you can grab a military bus to Camp Red Cloud where you can transfer to another bus back to which ever military installation you are stationed at.

Overall, the mountain is easy to access from both Uijongbu and Seoul and offers spectacular scenery, multiple waterfalls, and even a bit of rock climbing for those looking for a challenging day hike. The mountain may not be quite as picturesque as it’s more popular neighbor Dobongsan, but is definitely worthy of sharing the same neighborhood with it.

You can view more pictures of Suraksan Mountain on my Flickr page located here.

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18
  • Dan
    1:35 am on April 17th, 2007 1

    Is this the range on the east cost near the DMZ? It was Soraksan if I recall correctly. If so, it was my birthday present to myself in 1997. After my five day leave there, I returned and signed in just in time to start my outprocessing for PCS. But that is another story. The tour guide was really cute and sweet too. She was interestd in what american guys looked for in a woman. I told her I couldn't speak for all americans and she boldly stated that was ok, and "what do youuu look for". I REALLY WISHED I HAD SIX MORE MONTHS instead of six more weeks!

    Soraksan was really beautiful too. I was amazed when I watched those Ajimas, looking around 70 , walking up that mountain to the cave which held a Buddha statue inside. Those Ajimas had a strong road march going with little help. Hope I can do it at that age!

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    2:17 am on April 17th, 2007 2

    Suraksan is the mountain near Uijongbu while Soraksan is the second most popular national park in Korea second only to Pukhansan park near Seoul. Soraksan is on the east coast of the country and offers some outstanding scenery. I will eventually get around to doing a travelog on Soraksan as well. I have visited the mountain three different times and will visit it again this year when I visit Korea again.

    It definitely sounds like you had some fun during your visit.

  • Dan
    3:29 pm on April 17th, 2007 3

    Yep I did. Let me know when you are going back. I would like to visit it again myself. I haven't made a trip back as a civilian yet, but looking for the right opportunity.

  • Things to Do in Korea: Surak Mountain Streams at ROK Drop
    8:41 am on June 6th, 2007 4

    [...] more information you can read my prior posting on Surak Mountain here, as well as viewing additional pictures of the mountain in my Flickr photo album here.  [...]

  • [GI Korea] Things to Do in Korea: Suraksan Mountain - USFK Forums
    11:56 pm on October 18th, 2007 5

    [...] [GI Korea] Things to Do in Korea: Suraksan Mountain Published: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 09:08:01 +0000 Just south of Uijongbu on the opposite side of Dobongsan Mountain and just as accessible to any potential visitors is the lesser known Suraksan Mountain. Suraksan is not as picturesque as it’s western neighbor Dobongsan or as high, but does have its own type of charm and offers spectacular views of northern Seoul and [...] Read More… [...]

  • A Profile of USFK Camps in Uijongbu
    3:56 pm on March 20th, 2008 6

    [...] Camp Stanley is currently still open and is mainly a logistical base for the 2nd Infantry Division. Camp Stanley has actually escaped being surrounded by urban sprawl due to the fact that is located right next to a Korean prison and it’s adjacent rice paddies. The Korean prison is the building you see above with the blue roof. From Camp Stanley you can sometimes hear the prisoners singing songs and cadence from the prison. You can often see them working in the prison’s rice paddies as well. The picture below is of Camp Stanley as viewed from Surak Mountain: [...]

  • Suraksan - The Seoul Hiking Meetup Group (Seoul) - Meetup.com
    4:43 am on April 5th, 2008 7

    [...] Come join us for our most recent hike coming up on December 19.Take a look at this this website of Suraksan. While this isn’t necessarily the trail we’ll be taking, you can get an idea of the area.For those [...]

  • GI Korea2
    11:15 pm on May 1st, 2008 8

    Nice but I recommend Cheongju far south korea…

  • suraksan of south korea - Dogpile Web Search
    9:37 am on May 28th, 2008 9

    [...] Korea Hotel Bargains. Sponsored by: http://www.NexTag.com/Hotels &#149 Found on Ads by Yahoo! Things to Do in Korea: Suraksan Mountain [GI Korea] Things to Do in Korea: Suraksan Mountain Published: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 09:08:01 +0000 [...]

  • Mark
    3:58 am on July 8th, 2008 10

    Is this the mountain near Camp Stanley?

  • GI Korea
    8:42 am on July 8th, 2008 11

    Yes it is the mountain adjacent to Camp Stanley. However the trail I took up in this posting is from the opposite side of the mountain near Camp Jackson. However it is possible to walk up the mountain from the Camp Jackson side and walk right back to Camp Stanley. It is a good hike that I have done before.

  • shattered
    2:25 pm on July 8th, 2008 12

    I have been to Suraksan many times. Usually, I bring with me many metal spikes which I drive deep in the ground on the summit. I spent all day driving metal spikes in suraksan on Feb 10, 2008 and I was rewarded for a job well done. :razz: :razz: :razz:

  • Mark
    11:57 pm on July 8th, 2008 13

    I've been up the mountain trail that starts right at the gate to the ville outside Camp Stanley many times when I was stationed there. But only hiked the mountain trail to the Budist temple once. (We went out the aviation gate and made a right and the base of the trail was a couple miles down the road.I assume its the same place.)We called it the stairway to heaven. My fellow soldiers sat on the base of the budah statue and pissed off the monks. So we didn't get to stay long. :roll: Didn't have a camera with me so I was glad to find this site. Thanks

  • A Pictorial History of Camp Stanley
    12:54 pm on August 26th, 2008 14

    [...] built on the camp today. Not only is the camp extremely different but so is the terrain because Suraksan Mountain in the background looks completely deforested compared to the thickly forested slopes of the [...]

  • Aerial Photo of the Original M*A*S*H Site - Page 2 - The Trek BBS
    2:52 am on December 17th, 2008 15

    [...] 4077th. Here’s a page I found with a lot of photos of the Suraksan National Park near Uijeongbu: http://rokdrop.com/2007/04/16/things…ksan-mountain/ Judging from those, I’d say both views are correct: the mountainous, forested topography of the [...]

  • Steven Gay
    10:59 am on March 13th, 2009 16

    I have hiked up this mountain many times when I was stationed there in the eary 80's. This mountain is very scenic with beautiful natural rock pools that we use to swim in during the hot summer months. The trail can be accessed by the ville gate of Camp Stanley. Enjoy the hike.

  • Mark
    1:11 pm on March 13th, 2009 17

    Your name sounds familiar Steve. Are you in this picture?
    http://images.classmates.com/imgsvc/d?p=106363788

  • James Macnab
    9:06 am on April 19th, 2013 18

    On several weekends while visiting my friend in the village we would take a lunch up to the falls on the East of the mtn. This was in 1958. I was stationed at Camp Kaiser and was TDY all my tour running the Photo Exchange at Kaiser. All dirt roads at that time. Returned in 2002 with my wife who is Korean and attended the World Cup Soccer Games and toured my old stomping grounds. I was able to enter old Camp Kaiser which is under ROK command.

 

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