Biseul-san - 비슬산 - 1083.6m
Located on the Biseul-jimak Ridge
Dalseong-gun, South of Daegu City
Access town - Hyeonpung-myeon
Biseul-san is the tallest, and most western mountain of the Biseul-jimaek ridge, which stretches from the Nakdong ridge west of Gyeongju and ends where it meets the Nakdong river, south of Miryang in Gyeongsangnam-do.
At 1083m its main peak Daegyeon-bong stands high above surrounding mountains, allowing for good views in all directions - notably west over the Nakdong River, north into Daegu citys' southern suburbs and east over the sea of green ridge stretching toward Gyeongju.
Biseul-san's broad, gently sloping high ridge is free of large forest and supports a very large colony of Royal Azaleas, which bloom brilliant pink from late spring through to mid summer and attract large numbers of hikers annually.
The majority of hikers begin their ascent of Biseul-san from its western side, which is the natural welcoming face of the mountain. There are two main entrances here, both of which can be reached from the small town of Hyeonpung.
At the southern end of the mountain is the modern Biseul-san Recreational Forest Entrance, which has a large carparking area, camping and Korean Forest Service accomodations - and to the north is the Yuga-sa temple entrance - the more traditional appraoch to the mountain, here you will find a scattering of restaurants and minbak near the trail head.
Both entrances offer good hiking opportunities for the day-tripper, but if you like a good circuit trail which passes all the major attractions of the mountain (as I do) then I'd recommend setting off from Yuga-sa.
Yuga-sa (above) is located in a deep, granite-strewn gorge below Daegyeon-bong on the western side of the mountain. Interestingly the rocks of the river and gorge are considered a slow moving stream - like a stone glacier - and are given historical property status by the government.
Yuga-sa is the main temple of the Yuga sect of Buddhism, founded by Doseong-guksa approx.
829A.D, during the reign of King Heungdeok of the Silla Dynasty. Amongst its treasures is a fine, Buddha statue (tangible cultural property no.50 - pictured right) seated in its own shrine.
Yuga-sa is a charming spot set amongst trees alongside the rocky stream, it is currently undergoing some major landscaping in its grounds with dozens of huge cairns being erected and a park-like entrance area being built alongside the river and trail entrance.
Yuga-sa - Doseong-am - Biseul-san - Daegyeon-saji - Yuga-sa - 11km (approx)
From Yuga-sa, we chose to walk the summit circuit clockwise (see map below), setting off on the paved roadwhich continues past Yuga-sa, winding north-west up the face of the mountain past Sudo-am hermitage and ending after 2km at Doseong-am, high on the southern face of the peak.The trail
heads through the forest on a number of occasions, cutting off corners of the road, so you can make your own mind up whether to go on or off road.
Doseong-am is closed to the public and advertises this fact very well with big signs and fences - the monks of this hermitage practice deep meditation and request all hikers pass by quietly.
The trail continues as you pass below the temple and continues northeast up a shoulder leading to the summit ridge. After quite a steep kilometre or so you'll end up on the grassy high ridge of Biseul-san, about 600m north of the summit - right.
This open area is a popular spot for picnicking, and a junction for hikers coming from all directions. On the hot spring day we climbed up, it was a hell of a surprise to see a bloke up there selling freezing cold ice-creams from a massive chilly-bin.
This young fella reckons he carried 40kg of ice cream up to the ridge, and made himself a profit of over 200 bucks for his days effort to help him through university.
You'll see the summit clearly to the south, and its a gentle stroll though open grassland to the peak, a rocky outcrop looking west and celebrated with a typical large stone stele.
The trail drops south off the peak and continues along the ridge, skirting around the large open grassland and azalea colony which is the main attraction of this mountain in the early summer.
You'll see a large military communications tower on a peak to the southeast - a trail eventually heads left toward this but our circuit heads right toward Daegyeon-saji, the ruins of the former temple Daegyeon-sa.
Between the peak and Daegyeon-saji there are a couple of opportunities to cut through the azalea field and down to the valley heading to Yuga-sa, however it is highly worth it to check out Daegyeon-saji first with its cave temple and awesome pagoda still standing proudly on the edge of a massive granite cliff.
Looking south-west over Daegyeon-saji pagoda
From Daegyeon-saji you'll head north-west along the southern edge of the azalea field and join a trail which hugs the western face of the mountains edge before dropping int a rocky gorge which flows into Yuga-sa.
Getting there by car - Expressway 45 runs through Hyeonpung, which has its own exit (현풍분기점), getting off here you'll meet Highway 5 and head north a couple of kms into the small town, turn right (east) in the town centre onto the country road running along the south bank of the Hyeonpung stream (현풍천) toward the mountain, and the temples Yuga-sa and Sojae-sa.
The road forks near the Eumdong resorvoir where you can head north-east to the Yuga-sa entrance, or south-east to Sojae-sa and the Biseul-san Recreational Forest.
Bus - Buses run out to Hyeonpung from Seodaegu Bus Terminal, opposite the Seongdangmok Station (Daegu Subway 1, Exit No.3). From Hyeonpung local buses run to both Yuga-sa and Sojae-sa.
On weekends and holidays Daegu City bus no. 601 runs directly to Sojae-sa entrance from Seodaegu bus terminal 7 times daily at 6:28 a.m. 7:52 a.m. 10:12 a.m. 11:42 a.m. 1:13 p.m. 3:25 p.m. 5:03 p.m.