Way back in the day (*cough* two years ago *cough*), I began a secret Pinterest board for places I wanted to see in Korea. I just went in and typed “Korea” into the search bar and began pinning any photos I found attractive. I was determined to see every inch of this country if I could. One of those pins included hiking Wolchulsan, specifically seeing its orange suspension bridge (named “Cloud Bridge”) in person. I kind of have a thing for suspension bridges, as seen here and here. It took me exactly two years to finally go, but I fit in the hike between the last day of my contract and going to Jeju for a few days.
I went straight from Namwon to Mokpo, where Nicole is based, Friday night (mere hours after leaving school for the last time), and we made plans to go hiking on Saturday before I took a ferry to Jeju Sunday morning. Since I didn’t want to be too exhausted with all the travel I had planned, we decided to take it easy and only hike to the Cloud Bridge instead of going all the way to one of the peaks.
The hike itself isn’t super easy, but it’s not the most difficult hike I’ve ever done (see Baemsagol for that one). The whole hike up is about 1.7 km. I highly recommend taking the route that’s mostly rocks versus that stairs. Don’t listen to the Koreans telling you it’s the easier way. We went down the stairs, and I would have never made it going up. As my co-teacher pointed out to me once, they’re my oldest and worst enemy. The rocky side, though, isn’t bad and is much more fun. When you look at a map, the rocky side will be 1km straight while the stairs will be broken up into .4 km and .6 km
The bridge is easily worth the hike. The bright orange stands out among the mountainous scenery, and, at least when we went, it seemed less crowded. The views are stunning. You get the mountains on one side and all the rice fields on the other. Since it’s fall, the fields are this rich yellow color, and seeing them all from up above is seriously something. Over all, it was a great way to spend my last day in the Jeolla provinces, and I’m glad I managed to get my lazy bum to go hiking when I normally would have just relaxed.
MORE INFORMATION ON HIKING WOLCHULSAN
- Korean Names:
- 월출산국림공원- Wolchulsan National Park
- 월출산 – Wolchulsan | Mt. Wolchul | Wolchul Mountain
- 구름다리- Cloud Bridge
- 천화가사 – Cheonwagasa | Cheonhwaga Temple | Cheonhwagasa Temple
- Wolchulsan Main Page | This includes more background info, hiking courses, and fees/facilities
- The cloud bridge is 120m high, 52m long, and 6m wide.
- Hiking was free, parking was 2,000 KRW (~$2)
- While Nicole drove from Mokpo, you can get there via public transportation:
- Take a bus to Yeongnam Terminal (usually from Mokpo). Then take a bus from Yeongnam to Cheonhwagasa Temple.
Photos by Samantha or Nicole