Mount Soyosan Trail is a 4.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Soyo-dong, Gyeonggi, South Korea that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Mount Soyo, or Soyosan, a 1,926-foot mountain northeast of Dongducheon City, is notable for the scenic beauty of its azaleas, maple trees, waterfalls and unusual rock formations. It also has spiritual significance for locals as the place where Saint Wonhyo achieved his spiritual awakening. This trail has so much to offer year round, to highlight a few aspects; This is a tourist area so it is busy at the trail head. At the base of the MT is a fresh water spring, here you will see many locals praying and and creating "memorial Cairn" (stacking rocks), the locals will drink and splash this water on their foreheads (it is encouraged to drink from the spring before you depart-it is like ask/telling the MT you will be climbing it) there is a small cave here that also has spiritual/cultural significance. The trail begins to gradually climb up, then suddenly you will find yourself at the base of "The Stairway to Heaven" it is very steep but has many ropes to hold onto, there are several places to sit and rest , as many of the elderly tend to do. The climb has steps made from stone, roots and wood. as you get to the top you will have the option to go a few different ways (refer to map) there are waterfalls and overlooks; however by far in my opinion is the overlook not over the city side of the MT but the forest side, around noon you can sit her have lunch and listen to the local Monks chant and ring bells, very spiritual and awe inspiring. Once you descend the MT it is customary to drink from the fresh water spring, in a respectful manner (remember this is a place of reverence to many locals).
Not going to lie, this one kicked my ass a little. Granted it's been over 5 years since I last did it and my knees aren't what they used to be. Excellent hike nonetheless. The 4/5 stars is because you have to pay to enter the park now. I definitely recommend tackling the trails in the spring or the fall. Summer is very hot and the winter is icy to say the least.
Definitely crowded, at least when I went. But awesome fall colors around the end of October. Good view from the peak and great sunset. It still doesn't beat the 12000 ft peaks in the Sierra Nevada's where I'm from but good for South Korea. I'll probably be going back
My family and I completed much of this hike this during the fall. The falls colors were great and the trail is exceptionally well maintained and marked. The best route is to go the full loop which goes up one side and then along the peak and down the other side. A portion of the trail crosses through a temple that resides in a cave. Since we had our two dogs with us we were unable to complete the loop and had to turn back and go another way to make it an out and back adventure for us. We may try again without the dogs another tie to get the full experience.
Love this hike, so much to see-fresh water spring, 3+waterfalls, monk temple, caves, overlooks and beautiful vegetation that changes with the season.