hiking mangwolsa temple and podaeneungseon ridge

podaeneungseon ridge

One of these days, I’ll get the hang of the time difference between here in the US, I’ll feel completely settled into our new routine, and I’ll post regularly on a set schedule again. It’s been harder than expected to fall into this new schedule of ours, but I feel like I’m maybe finally getting to a point where I’ll know when to post and share. We’re getting back into our adventure routine, at least, and that’s been such a relief. We spent Saturday hiking Mangwolsa Temple trail and Podaeneungseon Ridge in Bukhansan National Park, and it didn’t disappoint!

Mangwolsa Temple and Podaeneungseon Ridge

Hiking was our jam in Washington, and it’s been neat to watch that translate to a new country, but it hasn’t been without its differences. Because of COVID restrictions, we stayed closer to home for the first couple months and, finally, we were able to venture just past Seoul to Bukhansan National Park, home of Mangwolsa Temple. We’ve seen a few temples in South Korea so far (like Gakwonsa Temple), but we were not at all acclimated to Korea’s temperature and climate, so we didn’t hike.

Hiking Mangwolsa Temple was like redemption though, and we actually accomplished a proper temple hike. Due to traffic in and around Seoul, our 1:40 minutes of travel quickly became two hours, but we made it to the trailhead with our friends, and we set off.

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Hiking Mangwolsa Temple Trail

One of the biggest differences between hiking in Washington and hiking in South Korea is the terrain. Most of the trails in Washington State were dirt or wooden stairs, and while some of the trails we did had a steady incline, very few just went straight up (except Lake Serene). South Korea’s trails all seem to feature a steep ascent, and Mangwolsa Temple trail and Podaeneungseon Ridge were no exception to the rule.

AllTrails, which has always been my partner in picking hikes, doesn’t seem to have an accurate account of the hiking trails in South Korea, so our 2.9 mile moderate hike quickly kicked up a notch to an intermediate/hard hike straight up. Because of the ascent, Ryan and I have been splitting the load carrying Mieke in the Deuter, so I wore her up to Mangwolsa Temple – about 1.8 miles – and he wore her up the rest of the way to Podaeneungseon Ridge and down.

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Podaeneungseon Ridge in Bukhansan National Park

This was the most aggressive and challenging hike we’ve done in a while. With about 1,500+ feet in elevation gain, a rocky terrain, and little to know level ground along the way, it was a significant challenge. The views, however, were more than worth it, and we plunked our butts down to enjoy the views together before eventually heading back down. The boys did fantastic, their boots gave them great traction, and they constantly amaze me with their ability to adapt and overcome; that’s just one of the many reasons we hike with our kids!

Tips for Hiking Mangwolsa Temple Trail and Podaeneungseon Ridge

Trail Length: Mangwolsa Temple Trail, itself, is about 3 miles roundtrip. If you add the trip past the temple to Podeaneungseon Ridge, you’ll find yourself at 4.2 miles roundtrip.

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate/Hard – this one was a challenge for all of us. You’ll climb hard and fast, but it’s worth it1

Cost: Free! We parked just outside of Bukhansan National Park in a small lot to the left of the sign, and there was no cost.

Tips: Wear bug spray! The mosquitoes are insane. I also recommend proper hiking shoes/footwear, as well as hiking poles if you are accustomed to them. Bring extra water, but note that there is a freshwater rock spring along the way where you can refill. We needed to, so it was perfect!