Hiking Korea’s Dobangsan and the Y-Valley


Spring is coming and the urge to rise from a long winter of  hibernation is growing. With the warmer weather seemingly approaching, why not plan to kick start spring with a hike?  Dobangsan is a steady and rewarding climb that gives you a great view of the north east side of Seoul.

Can you spot the hikers? Photo by Katie Fumerton

Can you spot the hikers?
Photo by Katie Fumerton

Dobangsan is a mountain within the vast Bukhansan National Park, which itself runs through a very large portion of the northern part of Seoul. There are many different hiking paths which vary in difficulty.

First, you must travel to Dobongsan Station (도봉산역) located on line number one (the dark blue line). Be careful because the previous stop is named Dobong Station. Wait until the next stop for Dobongsan. “San” is the word for mountain in Hangul! Once you exit the station you may cross the street and you will find food stalls and other stalls selling clothing and gear for hiking. You can grab a kimbap for the top or other various drinks and snacks.

When you reach the station exit (there is only one) you must cross the street to the vast amounts of food stalls. It will be easy to find.  Basically, follow the hikers. You’ll know a hiker from a mile away, and there will be hundreds. If I am ever unsure about how to find the base of a hiking trail…I just follow the hikers. It never fails me.

Photo by Katie Fumerton

Photo by Katie Fumerton

You will find the giant entrance to the mountain has useful maps and many people to help point you in the direction you want. You have the option of hiking up and back down the way you came, or continuing on and doing some ridge climbing. This is a personal favorite of mine. It gives you a great view and a prolonged sense of accomplishment as you scale the ridge of the mountain. In some spots you have a 360 view of the northwest part of Seoul.

Once you arrive at the top, Dobongsan has HUGE boulders everywhere. I have  seen crazy people with full rock climbing equipment rappelling down the mountain like lunatics. But the trail is safe, until you get to the warning signs. Don’t panic. There are alternate roots and people can easily skip the dangerous looking Y-Valley.

Photo by Katie Fumerton

Photo by Katie Fumerton

As you begin to descend from the peak down to where the ridge trail begins, there are many signs expressing the danger of the trail. It is a one way trail and you must backtrack to the peak, but it is worth it.  In total, it takes no more than twenty minutes to accomplish. It has sturdy poles and railings to climb, but there are steep ledges that you must lower yourself down and pull yourself up onto. It is an upper body workout and if you are short like me a great lower body workout too! For the adventure seeker, it is a MUST do! When you reach the top, you feel like you’re standing on top of Seoul!

Always listen to your body on a hike. Stop and take a break and hydrate or have a snack when needed. Make sure that you enjoy the views. It is truly a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. If you don’t go back down the way you came, there is always a sign or metro station not far from you, so just wander and follow the street signs. You’ll always find your way home.

 

Photo by Katie Fumerton

Photo by Katie Fumerton

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