With fall in full swing, it’s not too late to catch the leaves’ colors transitioning into their beautiful autumn hue.
Typically, mid-October into early November is the peak time when leaves across the peninsula start to change colors. And, much like the emergence of the cherry blossoms in the spring, heading out for a look at the crimson colors of autumn is a thing here on the peninsula.
And well it should be, for not long after the leaves change, and then fall, Korea’s long winter sets in, and the only color you’re going to see is on your flat screen while you hibernate until April.
Here are a few choices around the country if you’re looking to see the beautiful colors of fall.
Seoraksan Mountain (설악산)
Inje, Gangwon Province
Located 2.5 hours east of Seoul, Seoraksan, with its far northern location, is one of the first places in the country to witness the colorful changes of autumn. Keep in mind that Seoraksan is a very popular spot, especially on weekends during the autumnal peak. Make a plan before going or you might end up spending more time watching leaves while stuck in traffic going up the mountain.
Odaesan Mountain (오대산)
Pyeongchang is where Korea will host the Winter Olympics in 2018 and is a popular vacation spot all year round. Often visited by campers and guests at the forest lodges, it is especially popular during peak foliage season which happens around mid-October. Odaesan is one of the most heavily forested national parks in Korea and is home to wild boars, musk deer, and turtledoves as well as a wide selection of native wildlife.
Jeongeup, Jeolla Province
Located in Jeolla province, many consider this area to be the best place in Korea for viewing autumn’s crimson-infused colors. The name Naejang means ‘many secrets’ in the mountain. Read into that what you will. Along with the leaves, there are several scenic waterfalls, as well as historic temples, including Baekyangsa Temple, which is surrounded by Gulgeori trees that retain their lush green foliage through the winter.
Jirisan Mountain (지리산)
It’s hard to spend any time in Korea without someone recommending that you visit Jirisan. Known for its rocky landscape and vast reaches of forest in a park that stretches across three provinces, during peak foliage season in late October the slopes are ablaze with brilliant colors. Some great hiking trails wind through both Piagol Valley and Bam Sagol Valley if you want to get in a good hike while taking in the brilliant sites Jirisan offers.
Juwangsan Mountain (주왕산)
Cheongsong, Gyeongsang Province
Located in Juwangsan National Park, the mountain is well-known for its waterfalls, rocky peaks, and deep valleys. If you want to make the hike, enjoy the leaves and check out an awesome waterfall—there is a great four-hour round trip hike that starts in Sangui parking lot. If you catch it right, at dawn there is sometimes a gorgeous blanket of fog that hovers over Jusanji Pond. The area is also home to Cheongsong Folk Museum.
Beomeosa Temple (범어사)
Busan, Gyeongsang Province
Being located so far to the south, Busan is not known for its autumn leaves, but Beomeosa Temple on Geumjeong mountain offers some decent viewing in an already gorgeous environment. The temple was founded about 1,300 years ago by monk Ui Sang in the 18th year of King Munmu the Silla Dynasty. It offers easy access by subway and bus, making it a good spot to hit for the day.
For more info on all of Korea’s national parks visit: english.knps.or.kr