Inwangsan Trail: Hiking with a Twist

It was an early November respite and I was excited to hike with cheerful friends. It was also a perfect day, not warm and not chilly either. Just the soft, cool breeze that offered welcome relief when the body warmed up from the unexpected steepness and challenges of the hike.

We didn’t really know how to go and which way to take towards the Inwangsan Trail. We just decided to meet at Gyeongbukgung  Exit 1 and allowed the phone’s GPS to direct us to Inwangsan-gil. Thanks to these lamps, we knew we were on the right track.

lamps that led our way

And… we found the end of Inwangsan-gil!

the end of Inwangsan-gil and the beginning of our hike to the unexpected tracks

From this road onwards, we took to laughter and gut-feel as to which way to go. I don’t know about the 3, but in my mind I didn’t expect to reach the peak. We were just there for fun, anyway, otherwise we would have prepared for proper outdoor gear and clothing appropriate for hiking. So, the moment we reached the first top with a steep incline, I allowed myself to fall into the magic of being on top of the world!

I’m on the top of the world looking down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world

Something in the wind has learned my name
And it’s telling me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There’s a pleasing sense of happiness for me

But it wasn’t enough. Lured by the beautiful rock formations, we kept on:

rock formation

We reached a Buddhist Temple carved inside big rock formations. We explored the surroundings a little bit and were ready to call the hike done as it was the end of the trail… until we saw a man emerged from somewhere and decided to ask if there is a trail going up the peak. The friendly gentleman nodded and tried to explain the path that we were about to take. He assured us that it was going to be easy.

And that was when the real struggle began:

yes, the struggle was real!

Armed with no hiking stick, you bet! I resorted to crawling! … Wait, did we say we were going to bring glamour to the mountain, thus the photo with heels? Epic fail, right? lol!

I made a mental note that when we go back hiking again, I need to check on good quality trekking poles that would make hiking more easy and fun! I want one with a grip just right for me, with adjustable length and not too heavy.

But that was not the end of it.

Apparently, it was a steep no-trail trail.

The “easy trail” turned up to be a climb using ropes and squeezing through rocks:

the smile is just for photo-op… but I was scaredy cat in there

If it was just me, I wanted to turn back and go home. I got my photo on top of the hill in my heels, anyway! hahaha!

My! Was I glad I had them cheerful 3 and the ajussi angel who told us that it was going to be an easy path up – he ended up helping us through the ropes and the rocks. It was a glorious feeling when we were finally steps below the Seoul Fortress Wall.

And when we reached it, we carefully battled the fear of the ridges at the other side of the wall:

Victors! The picture tells of no fear. The cheerful 3 had their solo photos standing on the wall while I contented myself just sitting on top of the wall lest I be humpty dumpty and no kings’ men could put me together again.

It was exhilarating to be up there.

Inwangsan isn’t a very high mountain. There are more challenging and higher mountains in Seoul where you can relax at the peak. Others set up tents or  comfortable hammocks for the ultimate chill. But I love this Inwangsan hike. I’m sure those who have reached it will have their own different and unique stories to tell….

What’s yours?

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20 thoughts on “Inwangsan Trail: Hiking with a Twist

  1. Looked like a fun day! I’m really into hiking, so I enjoy hearing about other people’s experiences out on the mountain. Isn’t it nice to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city sometimes?

  2. You guys certainly took the scenic route hahaha! We hiked the fortress wall and just climbed the stairs straight to the top. I think the stairs were killer, but at least there was no ropes involved! Also, thanks for getting the Carpenters song stuck in my head 😉

    1. A great company is always helpful to keep you going, right? I’m glad I was with them. And they like to take pictures, too so it was really a wonderful time.

  3. I love hiking in Korea. This looks like a really varied hike with loads to see. Thanks for sharing- will definitely look into this the next time I’m in Seoul!

    1. Yes, Karla, it was fun! Especially with great company. Go for it! Great for you that you have already done Gwanaksan. I did a Bukhansan hike with friends but I guess, we were on the easy trail up. I didn’t have time to go up the peak though since I needed to be back home in time for my kids.

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