Mount Hallasan (Korea's highest peak) 19km trek experience, Jeju - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Mount Hallasan (Korea's highest peak) 19km trek experience, Jeju

Mount Hallasan is South Korea's highest mountain. Mount Hallasan has a height of almost 2 kms from sea level. (1947 meters to be precise) and Koreans have a god like worship to the hill and it is a national monument in South Korea. There is a free trek option to the peak of Mount Hallasan, where we can see a crater. This Mount Hallasan trek takes one full day and of course lots of stamina. The trek option to Mount Hallasan was identified by a friend who joined us for South Korea trip.

I've done several treks in my life- Doodhsagar falls trek (21 kms), trek to Bandaje falls, several treks during Chennai Trekking Club  -TadaNagala, Parvathamalai, hiking in Canada (Grouse Grind) and more. However Mount Hallasan was different because of time constraints within which we had to finish the long, complex hike and return.

Above: What we saw, Below: What was expected

Basic information about Mount Hallasan Trek

  • Total trekking distance: About 19-20 kms (two trails available, - Seongpanak trail is easier, bit longer at 9.6 kms and the other is Gwaneumsa trail, which is shorter at 8.7 kms but steeper. There are reportedly two other trails which are shorter but won't take you till the peak.
  • Entry fee: None. There is no entry fee but prior registration is needed. Only a limited number of people are allowed into the trail each day. If you register but can't go- cancel, so that others can take your spot, else you may be blacklisted
  • Timing: Trek route opens at 5.30 AM, last entry by 8 AM. You need to cross certain way points (referred to as shelters) on the way by 12 Noon else you won't be allowed further. Return journey should start from the peak by 2 PM
  • Difficulty level: High
  • Facilities available: Restrooms are available at couple of way-points/shelters along the way. No drinking water facility, no trash bins. Carry whatever you need and bring the trash back with you to base.
  • Reaching the trek start point: There are two different starting points. Taxi from Jeju will cost around 20000 to 25000 KRW, buses are available as well but check availability for your timing and start point. You won't be able to reach start point by 5.30-6 AM by bus. Return by bus is more realistic.
  • What to expect on the trail? Crater at top- will be a lake in rainy season, dry otherwise, scenic mountains and valleys, colourful trees, water streams (were dry during our visit)
  • Other things to know: Wear a shoe, ID proof, do not smoke, reach very early so that you get more time to trek and rest. If you start only by 8 AM you will be rushing to meet the timelines.
Our experience hiking Mount Hallasan:
We started early around 5.30 AM from Jeju city, took a taxi, reached by around 6.30 AM at the Gwaneumsa trail start point (taxi driver took a wrong turn and headed towards Seongpanak so had to come back). I am thankful to a friend for lending me a pair of socks without which I wasn't allowed to enter.

We began our hike at around 6.45 AM. There are periodic displays indicating how much we have covered, how much more to go and difficulty level of the pending path. All the streams that would have carried water were dry, so we had no source of water apart from what we had carried with us.

There are signboards at regular intervals to indicate where we are, how much further to go and the difficulty level.

There are couple of restrooms on the trail- but no water, no trash bin. We need to carry our trash back with us. In a way it is good because else govt will have to hire people to clear trash bins from mountains. At least a compost pit could be made for throwing bio degradable stuff, but I guess controlling people will be tough. People will throw water bottle and other non bio degradable materials there.
While half the path is well paved with wooden steps, other half is hard rock, loose gravel. We have to negotiate the steps carefully to avoid slipping. On the day we visited everything was dry. On a rainy season the trekking path at Mount Hallasan will be more slippery and will need extra caution.
Because everyone needs to complete the 20 kms trek n return to base before dark, there are fixed timelines set to cross certain milestones along the way. 12 Noon you need to cross a shelter in order to be able to reach the peak before 2 PM. If you are not fast enough to cross the specific shelter by pre-defined time, you will be sent back. 

The map said there is water available at one point- but when we reached there, a display said "Not a drinking water" because the stream had dried up and little water was trickling, maybe authorities thought it is not pure n safe enough.

Looked like the trail is never ending. We were also reaching cut off time- if we can't reach peak before 2 PM, we will have to return from wherever we were. I reached the peak with about 15-20 minutes to spare (2 PM we need to start descent)At times you may feel like giving up - one should have strong will power and decent stamina to keep going.
Below are what to expect on the Mount Hallasan hike in Jeju
Gwaneumsa trail
  • Bridges & streams (were dry)
  • Colourful trees & Berries

  • View of mountains all around
  • View of city
At the peak:
  • The crater, 
  • 360 degree view of the surrounding
The crater was dry as expected. There was one piece of stone where everyone had queued up to get pictures clicked. The crater was created when the lava underneath melted away. Hikers can't go closer to the lake- need to see from a distance. The lake area is large enough (2km circumference) and looks more majestic when filled with water. (Check first 2 photos in this post)

Seongpanak trail for return

We took the other trail to come down. The Seongpanak trail is a bit longer at 9.6 kms, but easier. View is not as good as the Gwaneumsa trail.
As I reached first shelter point, I wanted to wait for my friends, but staff insisted I keep moving.

There was an observatory 600 meters up on our return trail. But it was closed. I guess it is accessible only if you take  Seongpanak trail for the uphill trek.

There is a monorail rack on which a small carrier is operated to move supplies up and down the mountain.

If you want helicoper rescue, available- just call this number. I am sure there will be a hefty charge. We saw one helicopter coming to pick up trekkers at the peak. Watch video below.
After we ended the trek we could access the waiting area which had water fountain. Got a certificate to acknowledge our hike (Need to pay 1000 KRW or 65 INR). It was around 7.30 when we were ready to leave. We walked to main road, got a bus to reach Jeju city.

Overall hiking Hallasan mountain was a good experience and test to our physical abilities. The crater had no water but still overall the day was well spent.
The process of registering for Mount Hallasan trek in Jeju:
  • Prior registration is needed on this website :
  • Select the date, select one of the two trails, check availability and register.
  • In case of extreme weather authorities may cancel trek on certain days.
  • On the designated date reach starting point between 5.30 AM and 8 AM (Earlier the better)
  • Print your entry pass at the kiosk, show your ID and begin your trek.
  • Shoe is must. Carry enough water and some snacks- there are no supplies on the trail.
  • Note down the cut off times, begin your trek.
TIf you're visiting Jeju, got a day to spare and care for some adventure, do register for Mount Hallasan trek.

Other places to visit in Jeju

No comments

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days.Use Anonymous option if you don't wish to leave your name/ID behind- Shrinidhi

Powered by Blogger.