Adventures in ultra-running, nature-loving, plant-eating & travel

Gyeongpo Provincial Park

To me, this park is a classic. A must-visit. Even though, like nearby Naksan, it’s not mountainous. Gyeongpo Provincial Park features one of the east coast’s best beaches, a lovely little lake and a swath of pine trees. I visited Gyeongpo a little less than a month after moving to South Korea. In the years that followed, I returned multiple times. Seven years later, it’s still one of my favorite places.

A portrait of the author's husband. His face is tanned, his brown hair blown a bit in the wind, and he's wearing bright green sunglasses. He's giving the camera a wide, genuine smile. Behind him is a field of the broad green leaves of lotus plans and their large pink blooms.
I mean, how could it not be?!

My first visit to Gyeongpo Provincial Park involved a 10k race along the beach in 2011. I’d read about this race online, and was determined that this scenic course would be my introduction to Korean running. It was also my first trip outside Seoul! It was a blast, and I recognized having found a favorite.

An image of the author on a bus. She is surrounded by other members of the Seoul Flyers running club, and smiling at the camera.
Getting started on exploring Korea…
An image of the author and three others riding a bicycle built for four. The author is the only person looking at the camera. She's grinning delightedly and exaggerating the motions of riding a bike. The bike is yellow, with a yellow canopy above the peddlers.
Fun with new friends!
An image of the author running the Gyeongpo Beach 10k in 2011. Actually, a shirtless Korean man dominates the front right of the image, and the author is a smaller figure behind and to the left. She is wearing a green hat, and has a race bib pinned to her tanktop. The streets are flooded and the heavy raindrops are visible in the picture.
Yup, it was pouring…and I loved it anyways!

In 2012, my future husband and I returned to the same summer race. And again, a few weeks later, to spend our birthdays on the beach! In addition to an especially beautiful sunrise running route, we’d found a comfortable little niche there. There was a quieter section of the beach that we sometimes had all to ourselves, a good deal on a motel with floor to ceiling windows of sea views, and a little cafe in which we’d play scrabble for hours in inclement weather.

In this image, the author poses in her race attire in front of a giant, mirrored orb. Her hair is plaited and she wears bib number 3200.
Race ready!

 

An image of four feet! The author and her husband's minimalist footwear is on display here: the author is wearing blue and white Vibram 5-fingers, and her husband sports black New Balance minimus. Both sets of feet are firmly planted in powdery sand.
Post-race beach rest!

In 2014, we’d planned to take my visiting sister there for a single night, and wound up staying for three!

An image of a trio of happy beach goers! The author is on the left, in pink sunglasses, with her sister in blue mirrored sunglasses in the middle. Her husband is on the right, wearing green sunglasses. The three are sitting on a sandy beach.
All sun + smiles
An image of the author and her husband sitting in front of a a field of lotuses. They are wearing sunglasses and smiling. The author faces the camera, while her husband smiles at something unseen off to the left of the frame. The lotuses are in full bloom behind them, with large emerald leaves and pastel flower bulbs.
Lotus lovers
An image of the author and her sister, playing in the surf. The pair are ankle deep in water, backed by blue sea. There are some buoys floating in the distance behind them.
Sea sisters

And yes, we visited again during our mountain mission year. Our 2016 east coast bike trip would pass through Gyeongpo, so we planned a reminiscing rest stop there. Although I somehow neglected to take any photos whatsoever, we spent a relaxing hour or two there, re-hydrating at a favorite local mart and taking a refreshing dip in the ocean. It was every bit as lovely as I remembered.

An image of some tall, slender pines in front of a white beach. The sea beyond the beach is a deep blue, darker further towards the horizon. The sky is a paler shade of blue.
Gyeongpo Beach

Know and Go! Gyeongpo Provincial Park

Transportation

Getting to Gyeongpo is now easier than ever. With the new high-speed KTX train, you can get from Seoul to Gangneung city in about an hour and a half. Otherwise, buses ply the mountainous routes heading inland and along the coast, connecting many cities and towns. Gangneung is the major city in coastal Gangwondo, so transportation options are abundant.

Once in Gangneung, you can take a local bus or taxi to Gyeongpo Provincial Park. Be aware that the park spans a lake and a large section of coast, so if you’re directing a taxi, you might want to have a specific destination in mind. Head to Gyeongpo haebyeon (beach) , or Gyeongpo ho (lake) to start your adventures.

Hike

This area of the coast is extremely flat by Korean standards. As such, this is not really a hiking destination. But there’s still lots of active stuff to do! You could join the Gyeongpo Beach ‘Marathon’ (5k, 10k and half-marathon distances available), as we did, or just go running on your own alongside the beaches or around the lake. Alternatively, rent a bike and do the same. Or just take it all in at a stroll.

If you’d like to have it all – and in this case I mean mountains and beaches both – head to inland Odaesan National Park. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and it’s located practically next door to Gyeongpo Provincial Park; easily accessed from Gangneung.

Stay & Eat

You will be spoiled for choice here. Accommodation offers a full-range of options, and same with restaurants.  Visitors have the option of staying in the city or right on the beach. My personal favorite spot is slightly north of the main action of Gyeongpo Beach, in a little area known as Sagunjin Haebyeon.  Daedeok Hos(u)tel has views over a nice beach, and is a good place to base yourself if you want to be close to both the beach and the lake. Ann’s Coffee is right next door.

Other Notes

After my first visit here with the Seoul Flyers running club in 2011, I visited Gyeongpo Provincial Park several more times over the years. It’s one of our top choices for taking international guests and weekend getaways.

This was one park we didn’t need to research in advance. We’d checked it out thoroughly prior to our mountain mission year.

Come with to more  national parks and provincial parks!

 

 

 



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