This weekend I went hiking at Dobongsan (도봉산), a mountain within the Bukhansan National Park north of Seoul. We started from the entrance near the Dobongsan subway station and climbed to Jaoonbong peak (자운봉). Here's a little guide to hiking this route.
Being easily accessible by subway, you might think Dobongsan is a great option for a short weekend hike, but unfortunately there are a lot of other people with the same idea. When we got there the area was PACKED! Like, literally hundreds of people. Even when we reached the peak we couldn't stay long to admire the view because the area was so full of other hikers. Unfortunately it's always going to be busy if you go on the weekend, so it's not exactly a peaceful get-away location.
Still, walking through all the hiking gear stores, restaurants and vendors around the base of the mountain is great if you want to soak up the bustling atmosphere. We passed a Buddhist temple and the scent of incense wafted through the air, before being replaced by the smell of roast chestnuts as we walked on. There's often a busker who plays saxophone around the area. And you can always pick up some snacks or extra gear you might need.
The hike to Jaoonbong takes a couple of hours, passing some beautiful scenery along the way and opening up on a great panoramic view of Seoul at the top. The route does get quite tricky with some big boulders to negotiate, but as long as you are careful and sensible you'll be fine. We even saw some children there with their parents.
Overall I really like this route, it's a challenge but doesn't take too long, and there are lots of places to eat a meal afterwards. The only problem is the number of people there, which can get really frustrating. Unfortunately this is a problem in most good hiking spots around the edge of the city, so it's generally unavoidable.