Deoksan Provincial Park
It wasn’t the highest peak on the peninsula. It wasn’t the longest hike of our mountain mission year. But there was something about Deoksan Provincial Park that I loved, right from the start.
I wasn’t feeling myself on our taxi ride to the park. We’d spent the morning exploring Taeanhaean National Park. Feeling uncharacteristically tired, I wondered whether we were rushing through the parks too fast. But as soon as we arrived in the welcoming little tourist village below the mountain, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. By the time we hiking uphill on the forested slopes, I felt relaxed and restored to myself. Not for the first or the last time, I felt the strong healing power of nature.
Still, despite my burst of excited energy, we didn’t rush this mountain. It was to be a short hike to the summit, and we wanted to enjoy each step. So we climbed slowly, lingering at little hermitages and rocky outcrops; snacking and photographing and basking in the sun. We even had a little picnic at the summit, something we hadn’t done in ages! We traded some Clif bars for tangerines among some fellow hikers who joined us at the top. It was incredibly peaceful, and just what I needed.
Descending with a light heart, I was happy that our adventures weren’t over. In fact, the route we chose to descend on offered us many sights in the form of statues, relics and stone wish towers. We lingered at the main temple; observing pilgrims and reading the historical plaques.
Finally back in the tourist village after our little loop, we still weren’t ready to go. So we didn’t! We stayed for a meal, a random slurpee and a game of cards!
Know and Go! Deoksan Provincial Park
Deoksan Provincial Park is a little remote. It’s not so much that it’s far from Seoul, it’s just that it’s pretty distant from any urban center. The park lies in Yesan county, a couple of hours south of Seoul. The closest and largest town in the area is Hongseong.
Coming from Seoul by public bus is possible. There’s a bus to nearby Hanseodae from Seoul Nambu bus terminal. Or, take a slow train to Sapgyo station. From either of those destinations, the mountain is just a short taxi ride away.
If you a little extra time to explore the area, it might be worth your while to look into spending some time on the beaches of the west coast in Taeanhaean National Park.
The peak atop Deoksan Provincial Park is an accessible couple of kilometers away, round-trip. The trails are comfortable and fun. And don’t let the short distances deceive you into thinking there’s little to see here. In fact, this park is full to bursting with interesting Buddhist artifacts! It also boasts one of my favorite tourist villages of any park, and, thanks to the flat land surrounding the park, has beautiful expansive views from the summit. The trails are welcoming, the forest is warm and the temple is a treasure worth exploring.
Stay & Eat
Eating options are abundant at the foot of the mountain. We had some great mountain vegetable dishes there ourselves. There’s also cafes and local maekgoli, if that’s your thing.
We weren’t planning to stay the night, so we didn’t look into accommodation options. We did spot a couple of minbaks, and I imagine it’d be quite pleasant to stay in this quiet little corner of the world overnight. However, for more convenient transit options, it might suit some better to stay in the city and make a day trip to Deoksan.
Kent and I visited this park in late August 2016. We made a wee, 3.9 kilometer loop over the peak.
The peak is 495 meter Deoksungsan rises high over an area of flatter farmland for great views.
Don’t miss a stop at Sudeoksa temple, run by Buddhist nuns, and its many hermitages in the hills! Here’s a little more about the area from the English language Yesan county website!