Mt. Gamaksan Suspension Bridge Hike near DMZ
Fall in Korea is really beautiful and I love being able to walk out of my apartment and seeing the mix of colors!
I wanted to hike before all the foliage was gone, so when the Seoul Hiking and Nature group offered an opportunity to hike Mt. Gamaksan ( 감악산 ) last month, I jumped on it.
A small bus was making the rounds and picked my friends and I up from the Express Bus Terminal Station. With everyone sardined into the bus, we made our way to the mountain. This mountain is about an hour and a half north of Seoul in the Gyeonggi-do province. It lies between Yangju, Yeonchon county, and Paju.
Once at the base of the mountain, our guide Mary took us to the map and briefly explained the day's hike and then we hit the trail.
The trail immediately winding around the trees in a slight incline. We all shuffled along patiently taking in the surrounding nature. The initial pace of the climb was slow due to another popular attraction on the mountain...the Gamak suspension bridge!
The Gamak Suspension Bridge spans 150 meters across Silmari Valley.
At one point this was considered the longest suspension bridge in Korea, but has since been surpassed. Nonetheless, it is a site to see worth waiting for-a vivid red colored bridge gently swaying among the trees as hikers make their way through.
As soon as I was next in line to cross, a big smile spread across my face and I didn't even have time to debate whether or not I was afraid of heights.
Turns out, I'm not!
This bridge is also know as the Gloucester Heroes Bridge, and a memorial can be seen once one reaches the other side.
This serves as dedication to the British Army, specifically the 1st Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment, who fought in the Korean war. The mountain itself also played a part in the Korean war as one of the battle fields on June 25.
Summit or Bust
Since I'm not an avid hiker, I found some of the steeper parts to be a bit strenuous, but I'd still say this hike is perfect for all fitness levels!
The beautiful scenery along the way served as a great distraction from my impending cramps. There were trees of all colors and sizes, and a temple along the way.
Once at the top, our group spent some time exploring the views, and celebrating over a cup (or two) of makgeolli, a lightly sparkling rice wine.
The hike to the summit took close to an hour an half for me.
Gamaksan has an elevation of 675 m (2,215 ft) so this is a great option for a day hike.
Many people claim that this mountain is the closest to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). For this reason, the trails are often packed with curious hikers. Though it's not technically the closest, it does offer distant views of Gaesong (개성시 ), a city in the southern part of North Korea on a clear day.
The wired fence, though meant for other legitimate purposes, added appropriate "You shall not pass" vibes.
On the way down we walked along the ridge to stop and look at the views from other peaks.
Gamaksan Mountain, means ‘a dark blue mountain. True to it's name, I could see gradient hues of greens and blue speckled with trees that reached their peak autumn colors once I reached the summit.
We walked down to the temple for a much awaited bibimbap lunch.
This day was the perfect combination of great weather, beautiful views, and fun times with new friends. If you have any questions, please let me know!
Thank you for reading!
Other photos from the trip!
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