Korean Trails

Over the Mountain, is a Mountain

Goheon-san 고헌산, 1034m
Nakdong-jeongmaek ridgeline
Ulju-gun, Ulsan City / Sannae-myeon, Gyeongju City

Goheon-san, taken to the south from Yangdong-ri, Eonyang - with Munbok-san in the background left.


 Located about 10km to the northwest of Eonyang town, Goheon-san appears to stand alone from most angles, seperated from its fellow peaks of the northern Yeongnam Alps by a deep, wide pass between itself and Gaji-san to the west.


For hikers of the Nakdong-jeongmaek trail, Goheon-san marks the transition point between the spectacular broad ridge trail through the Yeongnam Alps, and the tough, remote, low backcountry route through to Gyeongju. Goheon-san's isolated position offers a fantastic farewell to the Alps, with sweeping views back over the range from its open, reed blanketed ridge.

Goheon-sa

There are a few trailheads to the moutain, but the only true circuit course is from the south, beginning at Goheon-sa temple, located at the end of a quite mountain road running north off Highway 24.

Directions

By car take National Highway 24 west from Eonyang,  exiting 7km from town at the sign directing to Sangbuk Industrial Complex, as well as Gyeongju and Cheongdo. Drive on the country road for about a kilometre before turning right at the yellow, S-oil gas station. This road leads directly to the mountain, which you can see in front of you, up past the Jinu and Samjin Apartment complexes. The road reaches a small, new carpark, with toilet and map of the mountain opposite an equally new Buddhist hermitage, although still over a kilometre short of Goheon-sa this is a good place to stop, as the circuit will either start or finish from here - or both.

The new carpark, a kilometre short of Goheon-sa


By Bus: From Eonyang buses 1713, 338 and 807 stop at the Singi bus stop, right on the corner of our road heading to the mountain - at the yellow S-oil gas station. From Gyeongju, bus 355 leaving from Gyeongju station winds its way through the remote western Alps to this bus stop - although unless you like the bus it'd be quicker to get on an express to Eonyang and get on one of the other 3 buses. You'll have to then walk up the road to the Goheon carpark - its a good 2-3km walk, but not gruelling.


Goheon-sa - 3km, 1.5hr - Goheon-san (add an extra 15-20min from lower trail-head)

The new carpark is located just short of a Yaksu-am hermitage temple, where two small streams meet. Just beyond the temple, across the stream coming from the left, a ribbonned hiking trail heads into the forest on your left marked with a small sign reading Deungsan-ro (등산로, hiking trail) in Korean. This is the path I took, and winds quite steeply up the face of the mountain directly to the summit. There are a number of unmarked trail junctions on this route, but if you stick to the most heavily walked, upward leading path - you're on the right track! This trail eventually hooks up with the trail going up from Goheon-sa, but doesn't pass the temple itself. If you want to visit Goheon-sa then continue up the road past the carpark, the trail from Goheon-sa starts up the back of the temple grounds, heading into the forest to the left as you face the mountain. The two trails meet at a rock wall junction, quite high on the mountain, from where the forest begins to thin for the final ascent to the summit.

 Goheon-san summit (1034m)


Our trail pops out of the wood directly at the summit, which is quite unusual - look carefully and you can see the hiking ribbons at the right of this photo. Goheon-san is celebrated by two steles and a massive stone cairn, which was being ercted as I passed here on my Nakdong-jeongmaek trek in 2007. A large wooden viewing platform looks over the southern face of the mountain, toward the dominant peaks of the Yeongnam Alps.

 

Southwest views from the 2nd peak to Odu-san. Photo taken on my 2008 Nakdong-jeongmaek trek


Goheon-san's entire high ridge is bereft of forest but is home to a huge colony of pampas reeds, which are quite spectacular in the early winter months, particularly shimmering in the light of dawn and dusk. Views are exceptional all around. Meeting the ridge the trail joins the Nakdong-jeongmaek heading north-east to Soho-ryeong pass and on to Baekun-san (not the Baekun-san covered on this site) and west toward the second peak of Goheon-san before heading north-west to Oihang-jae. Take the western path, which follows the ridge on a boardwalk, past another viewing platform before rising to the summit. Keep left to climb to the peak, the major Nakdong-jeongmaek trail bypasses it, but if you want to complete the circuit its a must, as our trail descends off it - and the views are spectacular.


Goheon-san's second peak is celebrated by a stele marking its height at 1035m. This is an error, its true height is 1020m.

Our trail descending off Goheon-san is poorly marked, and is a real exercise in back-country hiking, and toward the end there's a fair bit of guessing to be made as quite a few trails intersect lower down above the farming villages, so don't expect to end up EXACTLY where you started, but know that you won't be far off it.


Our path drops off the peak, directly in front of the stele, in a south-west direction. It's a bit overgrown, particularly in the summer months, but is walked enough and ribbonned fairly well so stick with it, you'll be grand. We're following a shoulder for about 700metres, reaching near the end of this take the LEFT FORK when the trail splits, its not signed, just remember to stay left. From here the trail starts to look a bit more permanent as it enters thick forest, where primary growth can't flourish and choke the path. The descent is steady south for close to two kilometres, when the trail forks again. Here I took the left fork which dropped down to a stream, I followed this river trail downstream and it popped out on the road at the temple and new carpark where I'd begun. If I hadn't taken that fork the trail continues in a southerly direction and pops out either at Heungdeok-sa (just down the road) or even further at the Samjin apartments. Neither of these outcomes is a disaster.

 Another option from the 2nd summit, is to take the north-western continuation of the Nakdong-jeongmaek trail down to the small village of Daehyeon-ri in northern Sannae-myeon.


This is a well formed trail, and a beautiful walk, firstly through reeds, as seen left, and then through a tall, mature forest down to a small road which traverses the ridge. Turn left (southwest) on this road, and you'll reach Daehyeon in less than a kilometre.


Daehyeon-ri is on the bus route from Eonyang terminal, but buses are fairly irregular. Bus nos. 338 and 355 extend to this village on their route, but not on every run.

 

 

Map of Goheon-san


The circuit trail explained above is that dotted red, with the blue trail the alternative traverse route down to Wahang-jae above Daehyeon-ri.

As you can see there is a three-peak ridge route heading south-east from Goheon-san down to a point further east on Highway 24. The junction for this trail was not clearly visible from the ridge last time I was up there, I plan to hike this trail in the coming months and will report back.