Soaking in Sokcho- A Traveler’s Guide

Whether you are wanting to break free from the bustle of Seoul or are visiting Korea in the near future, Sokcho is a prime destination that features the grand splendor of mountain ridges peering down on a pounding surf.  In the short time living in Korea, we have grown to love this spot as a way to enjoy the culture and landscape of the area that provides amazing opportunities in the outdoors.

Sights of Seoraksan

Biryong Falls (All Trails App): If you decide that you want to turn this into a run, begin with the sun rise for more solitude.  From the park entrance, head up the paved path and cross the bridge on your left.   The trail climbs through the deciduous forest that lines the water of the Ssangcheon.  In mid Fall, the golden foliage of maple leaves the size of my face were sprinkled in with singed flora dropping from trees.  The route ascends up a ravine cut by a clear running stream and soon opens up to views of the river valley that spreads through the mountains.  After about 2.5miles from entering Seorasksan National Park you reach our turnaround at Biryong Waterfall.  The water in the Fall was at a minimal flow as the summer rains had ceased and any snow melt had been distributed to the lower elevation’s months ago.  The pacifying sound of water sliding off the granite cliff and plunging into the pool carved into a bowl from the cascading creek will connect you to natures creation.

Mount Daecheongbong (All Trails App): As so many of the trails in Korea, the path is void of switchbacks and heads straight up.  When we hiked this in mid-October, the vibrant Fall colors we had seen on our drive to the Trailhead dissipated into exposed limbs cleaned of their dressing.  Without foliage, the views of the peaks and ridges which encircled us were unobstructed.  There are less staircases than other hikes in Korea and the trail is more rocky and rugged.  The pace is slower than normal as you traverse over boulders that are stacked on the ridge.  After being in a cloudy haze that morning, the day began to clear offering the splendid site of Seoraksan.

Ulsanbawi (All Trails App): If you are limited on time or simply looking for a half day venture, I highly recommend hiking to the top of Ulsanbawi.  The trail starts off gradual and then reaches a serene Buddhist temple carved into the sides of the mountain.  From there, you enter into a steady dose of staircases that lead to the knife edge of the summit.  Probably one of the more awe inspiring views of the area as you can truly grasp the magnitude of the mountains rising out of the sea.

On the Water

Burger Place (Naver Maps):They serve up an amazing classic burger and fries that pairs nicely with a Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Sit on the top deck for spectacular sunset views of the East Sea.

Boardwalk Stroll (Naver Maps): Start anywhere along Sokcho Beach and head south.  Eventually the paved path or sand turns into a boardwalk that wraps around a headland that juts into the sea.  I believe this goes all the way to Oenchihang Port, but part of the hillside had caved in and destroyed the boardwalk.  There are historical sites along the way which point to the area’s complicated relationship with North Korea.  

Singlefin Aleworks (Naver Maps): The laid-back establishment produces my favorite IPA that I’ve tasted in Korea.  They also have a canning machine on site which allows them to pour right from their taps for beer to go.  On the shelf of empty bottles for collection, they had Ninkasi’s Total Domination from my hometown in Eugene, OR. Pizza, chicken wings, and fries will ensure you won’t go hungry.

Surfy Beach (Naver Maps): Take a sun-soaked stroll from Hajodae to Surfy Beach and you may have the stretch of sand to yourselves to meander and pick up sea shells along the way.  Surfy Beach is a fantastic attempt at replicating a resort in Mexico with thatched bungalows, a surf shop, and the only beer they serve is Corona.  I have to give them credit that they have stuck with their marketing niche even in the midst of the novel Coronavirus. 

In Between

Matsu (Naver Maps): I absolutely love this Italian place as it is in full on Christmas décor year-round with a tree coming out of the middle of the room and tacky decorations piled high. They serve an amazing seafood pasta teeming with more shellfish than noodles and have an attractive set meal for a very reasonable price.

Casa Seoraksan (Naver Maps): We have stayed at 3 different places in Sokcho and allow me to save you the trouble of looking any further than Casa Seoraksan.  The location is tough to beat as you are a 15min walk to the ocean or a 10min drive to the entrance of the National Park. Matsu Italian Restaurant is also only a 3min walk which makes for a nice option to enjoy wine without the hassle of driving or taking a cab.  The rooms all come with a hot tub and have splendid views of the mountains or ocean.  The host prepares a legitimate breakfast that is delivered to your room in the morning and the full kitchen boasts a hand coffee grinder, if the brew in the lobby is not to your liking.

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