Out And About In Korea – Gunsan Lake: Great day hikes for all levels of hikers.
As it begins to warm up in here in Korea, it is perfect time to get outdoors and do some hiking! There are plenty of places in Gunsan to day hike, such as Eun Pa Lake, Wolmyeong Lake, or along one of the many beaches.
If you are looking for something a little more strenuous, I recommend the Cheongam Mountain (Cheongam-san) “Eco-Round”. Which consist of 4 trails of varying difficulty. From an easy but long 10 mile hike circumnavigating Gunsan Lake, to a strenuous hike to the peaks surrounding the lakes, which will challenge even some of the most in shape hikers.
We have hiked two of the trails over the course of a couple of weekends. The first weekend we did the strenuous Red Trail, which by the end of the hike left my knees in tatters.
Our first hike we hit the trail about 2 in the afternoon, here I am making the mistake of carrying about 20 lbs. of camera gear on my back, including my tripod. As the lake has multiple peaks in the hills surrounding it you cover quite a bit of both steep uphill and downhill sections of the trail. Flat sections where you get up a good stead pace are few and far between on this trail. Your legs and feet get a workout both uphill, and down.
There are quite a number of tombs on the hill trail, which made for a nice photo stop, and rest area.
Here we are about 2 hours into the hike, with about another 90 minutes left to go. I must admit that I am pretty much almost dead at this point, and we still have some pretty steep hills to climb, which had me just trying to make it from one tree to the next.
This last bit downhill was almost the death of me, after 4 and a half hours of beating my knees up, I fell on my ass once, and nearly fell a second time on this last little bit of trail. At this point I was very glad the Cheongam-san Death March had come to an end.
For those of you how enjoy hikes that are a little less strenuous, you can take the 10 mile trail that circumnavigates Gunsan Lake, we returned a couple of weeks later to try this trail, which is my favorite of the two trails we tried. For this hike I chose to take only my 2 liter hydration pack, the Canon 5D MKIV, with the 50mm f1.2L and 16 – 35 f2.8L, and my trusty monopod/walking stick.
You can choose to start by going left from the parking lot (Where we started the last hike), or going to the right. I chose to start this hike off on the right hand side, towards some pretty interesting artwork.
At the lake level, the trail starts out through some very nice cherry blossom trees.
As the trail meanders both near the water’s edge and up into the hillside. You have an interesting mix of vegetation
Here is an area mostly of Bamboo that has several nice photo op spots.
Some study tree’s to use for portraits.
When you are lake side, the view is spectacular, and the light breeze is a welcome feeling of peace.
Coming around the back end of the lake, on the home stretch, in one of the fingers you have to hike around, we came upon this strange foam being whipped up by the wind.
The trails are also great for bike riding, either with a group, or by yourself.
We finished the hike around 430 in the afternoon, a good 4 hours of hiking.
I prepared my feet ahead of time, putting duct tape around areas that in the past my boots have given me problems, and had to stop once along the trail to apple more on another hotspot. Mi Jung wore the wrong kind of shoes, and by the end of the day had wish she had worn better shoes. So remember proper footwear is important, as well as water to stay hydrated. I wish I had brought a candy bar or two, as my stomach was growling during the hike.
We definitely recommend the Gunsan Lake and Cheongam Mountain hiking trails, you definitely will not be disappointed!
How To Get There:
A good mappable address is The 7-11 near Cheongamsan Mountain, it will pretty much take you right to the parking lot.