Jirisan is a vast mountainous land scattered throughout 5 cities and 3 provinces of Korea. It is the largest national park in the country, and the first to get it’s name in 1967. The trail is 274 km in total, but with various peaks to choose from you can hike anything from nine to twenty km day trails. The tallest peak, Cheongwangbong, (the pillar of heaven) is at 1915 meters above sea level, but there are plentiful peaks pointing out of the epic landscape that stretches far beyond your site. It’s truly a site to see, and an even better one to climb.
The meaning of Jirisan is “the mountain of the odd and wise people” and in the past, many people devoted their efforts to seeking truth and happiness at Jirisan. It’s not surprising people spent their days here, amongst some of the most magnificent scenery in Korea. With an abundance of valleys, trails, historic treasures and peaceful spots securely tucked into the mountain park, it’s true what they say – nature is the best form of therapy and Jirisan is the best of the best when it comes to therapists.
If you are planning on taking to the stunning scenes of Jirisan, make sure to capture one of the “ten sceneries” that are on offer around the national park. These include the spectacular sultry sunrise particularly noteworthy from the eastern peaks, where it is said to be the best place in Korea to watch the sun wake up. The full moon is another one of the ten sceneries, with a scarlet sky painted over the mystical mountain haze – it’s said to be an enchanting view.
Site two is beyond Hwaeomsa Valley where you will find a sea of clouds visible from below the peak , calling it the “Nogodan Sea of Clouds.” The sixty-meter waterfall that roars loudly is between Cheonghakbong and Baekhakbong as number six of the ten sceneries.
Number nine of the ten sites and ultimate picturesque places in Jirisan is Chilseon Valley. This alluring valley of water oozes it’s way from Cheonwonbong Peak and is said to be one of three best valleys of Korea. Legend has it that seven Gods live in the valley – and we all love a legend’s tale while climbing over boulders surrounded by towering mountains for miles. It definitely adds to the effect.
It’s all very majestic and captivating whichever trail you hike, wherever side you decide to go.
As well as these natural wonders, there are also over ten temples and many cultural treasures nestled through the national park. Daewonsa Temple is located at the eastern foot of the mountain, near Geoyeonjeong and Gunjajeong Falls. It was originally built in 548 during the Silla Dynasty but has since been renovated numerous times because of the Japanese and Korean Wars throughout history. The large temple grounds rest next to Daewon Valley, which boasts very unusual rock formations and striking scenery.
These are all striking areas and alluring sites of Jirisan, that said there’s no part of the national park that will leave you disappointed what ever the intention of your visit. The sites scatter throughout the park, the temples are perched in every corner and the trails make their way from north to south and east to west with a variety of challenges, landscapes peaks and passages. You will find the experienced Bear Grylls type hiking at dawn and the kinder gardener strolling at dusk.
Camping is readily available at each corner of the park and it depends on what sites you’re interested in seeing as regards to the position of your campsite. I stayed at the eastern foot of the mountain, where there were copious spots to visit and trails to climb, making your way to Cheonwangbong Peak.
If you plan on visiting the famous national park during a national holiday or long weekend, get there fast. Camping is the most popular past times in Korea and the campsites won’t be long filling up. With all the beauty that surrounds you, you want to make sure that you wake up to it rather than the car park. That said you’ll have the mountain waiting for you where ever you pitch your tent, and it will leave you wanting more each time you climb through the roots of Korea.
I will keep this post updated with each visit to the national park. Next time I hope to go further west to the start of the trail, and find a few hiking paths near Namwon and Guryong Waterfalls. In the mean time if you have a free weekend in Korea and fancy getting out of the cities and in touch with nature, particularly if you fancy a challenge – go to Jirisan. If you have been and know of any good trails or scenic sites to see please let me know! I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Until my next long weekend, this should feed your curiosity of the biggest national park in Korea. Thanks for reading!