Korean Trails

Over the Mountain, is a Mountain

Baekun-san 백운산 (885m)                                                                                 
Southern Branch of the Unmum-jimaek Ridge, between the great peaks of Unmun-san and Gaji-san. Samyang-ri, Milyang City

Baekeun-san Summit

 

Lost in the shadows of Gaji-san (1200m), Unmun-san (1100m) and across the valley from the famous Eoreum-gol ice valley/canyon and Cheonhwang-san; Baekeun-san (White Cloud Mountain) can very easily slip under the radar of most hikers heading to the Yeongnam Alps region. This mountain though is well worth the visit and very different to the other mountains of the Alps. It's white rocky ridgeline almost seems out of place amongst the tall, broad ridges and peaks that surround it, being much more similiar to the landscape of the Worak-san/Songni-san areas of central Korea or the rocky far north of Seorak-san - perhaps this small peak is Geumgang-san's return gift for Ulsan-bawi, the famous rock carried north and dumped on the ridge of Seorak-san by Ulsan's mountain spirit.

                                                  

 A circuit trail of the mountain can be completed in less than 3 hours, another unique feature in an area where full day hikes are the norm. The trail begins from the small Samyang-gyo park entrance and rest area a couple of kilometres up the hill from Eoreum-gol (the ice valley), on old National Highway 24, which winds up and over the Nakdong-jeongmaek ridge bordering Ulsan to the East and Milyang to the west.

Samyang-gyo is located on a tight bend on this very windy mountain road, there is parking available for a dozen cars or so on the roadside in front of the park maps and the small store, minbak and restaurant which operates there - its wise not to rely on this store for trail snacks or meals, their opening hours are sporadic.

 

Guryongso-pokpo 구룡소폭포 falls                                                                                                         

 

To begin the circuit head noth-east past the snack shack following the paved road which heads up toward an old carpark. Cross the river near the end of the paved section to the public toilets on the other side, the trail heads left past the toilets, northwest toward the Guryongso falls. The trail splits at one point - stay left, the right trail heads north toward Gaji-san

 

 Myohyang-am (묘향암);The Shack Hermitage


On past the spectacular Guryongso-pokpo, the trail runs into a derelict old shack which is actually a small Buddhist hermitage, Myohyang-am, thrown together with all manner of materials it is unlike any ive ever seen before, and a bizarrely beautiful place to take rest.

Crossing the small creek here you can take a small trail to the peak, which is a bit of a shortcut, or follow the main trail on to the ridge and turn left toward the peak from the pass.

 South-eastern Ridge face


As a baby amongst giants, the view of the surronding peaks from Baekeun-san's summit is a good one - if a little closed. To the direct south is Cheonhwang-san above Eoreum-gol, south east the Nakdong-jeongmaek ridge creates a wall blocking views to the sea. To the direct North-east is mighty Gaji-san, and its ridge runs west to meet Unmun-san.

From the summit the trail heads along Baekeun-san's south-east ridge - a walk which at times is very tricky and caution is needed, particularly in ice and snow. The polished boulders make for fairly hard going until the ridge meets a series of staircases, and heads down into the forest and onto NH 24, about a kilometre west (downhill) of where the trail began, you'll need to walk back up the road to return to your transport, or head down the road to Eoreum-gol for buses.

 

Map of Baekun-san Trail within Gaji-san Provincial Park The "you are here" box is at Samyang-gyo, the trail head

 

Getting there by road

Baekeun-san circuit trails start from the old National Highway 24 which climbs over the massive border ridge of Milyang city to the west and Ulsan city to the east. The new section of NH 24 tunnels through the ridge.

Coming from the west turn off NH24 at Nammyeong-ri (남명리), following the sign to Eoleum-gol (ice valley) - the carpark to which is a couple of kilometres down the road. 

The road forks here, heading down to Eoreum-gol, or up over the mountain - head up, until you reach the Samyang-gyo (삼양교) bridge and hiking rest area on a bend. This is the entrance for Baekeun-san. It is also possible to start further down the mountain from the Hobak-gyegok (호박계곡) just on from Eoreum-gol on the lower road.

By Bus

Buses don't go all the way to Samyang-gyo, but will drop you down the road at Eoreum-gol, the famous ice valley - from where you can follow the road up to Samyang-gyo. The Eoreum-gol bus runs from Milyang city to the west through the ridge to Seongnam-sa temple, in Eonyang county of Ulsan to the east.

Milyang Intercity Bus Station to Eoreum-gol -  7:35, 8:30, 9:05, 10:10, 10:40, 11:30, 12:20, 13:00, 14:00, 14:30, 16:10, 16:50, 17:50, 18:30, 19:10, 19:50

 

 From Seongnam-sa (석남사) - Seongnam-sa is a major  temple of Gaji-san and is located near Eonyang in Ulsan city, buses run regularly to Seongnam-sa from Eonyang Bus terminal.

Seongnam-sa to Eoreumgol - 8:20, 9:00, 10:00, 10:50, 12:05, 13:10, 14:10, 15:30, 16:10, 17:10, 18:10, 19:10