Destination: Chuwolsan Provincial Park
Gamagol Eco-Park (용소)
Gamagol Eco-Park (출렁다리)
The destination and dates for Bike’n Hike VII bounced around a bit, but eventually focused on a one-day adventure exploring some of the parks around Damyang. Specifically Damyang’s most famous mountain, Chuwolsan, and the neighboring Damyang Lake and Eco-Park. Even packaged as a manageable one-day outing, it’s tough to find willing cyclists during the dead of winter. Thankfully Geoff, a participant in the inaugural Bike’n Hike almost a year ago, was both available and interested. You’re about to see a lot of photos of Geoff (clearly I had the only camera!).
Leaving Jishil Village
We left from The Damyang House
and headed toward Damyang (Eup) via the 887. This is one of my favorite roads as it’s relatively free of heavy traffic, is flat and has awesome views of the surrounding mountains. It also leads directly to downtown Damyang (20km) or connects you with other important cycling roads.
Navigating through Damyang (downtown) is pretty simple as it’s well marked in terms of signage for both the roads you need and Chuwolsan Park. I recommend staying on 887 until you arrive at 13 where you’ll take a right. Shortly after you’ll take a left on 29 heading toward Chuwolsan Park. If nothing else just look for the mountain as it’s usually visible from just about everywhere around Damyang!
Chuwolsan Mountain (fall)
As you get closer to Chuwolsan you’ll be met with a few different climbs, varying in length and difficulty, but nothing to worry about. Be thankful you’re heading north because it’s more challenging coming from the other direction. You’ll also get your first views of Damyang Lake, which like most lakes in Korea is a dammed river that fills in the valley creating a giant amoeba shape.
After you pass through a small tunnel, you’ll be pretty much right in front of the mountain and it’s all downhill to the park entrance where you’ll find a few restaurants, an information center, trailheads and a series of boardwalks around the lake. There isn’t much open in the winter. During the summer this place is packed…especially on weekends.
Damyang Lake Boardwalk
Damyang Lake (Boardwalk is just above the water line)
We opted to cancel our attempt to summit Chuwolsan for a variety of reasons. First, it was colder near the mountian/lake and much windier. Second, Chuwolsan is much bigger than it looks and getting to the top would not have been quick or easy. We were on a pretty tight schedule as it was (short winter days!) so instead pressed on past Chuwolsan and Damyang Lake towards Gamagol Eco-Park. Getting to the Eco-Park from the base of Chuwolsan is easy as it’s located at the north end of the lake. Continue north on 29 and take a right on 792. Of course there’s another climb heading this direction.
Take a Right onto 792
The park entrance will be on your left and is hard to miss. The roads leading into the park are scenic and during this time of the year, extremely quiet. Judging by the plethora of riverside restaurants along this road, I’m guessing this is not the case during the summer months.
Heading into Gamagol
At the end of this road you’ll find a parking lot and a park office. The park itself is small and you can see a lot of the highlights in less than an hour. Grab a map at the park office and explore!
출렁다리 & 용소
After a quick look around we hopped back on our bikes and returned to 792, the main road that brought us here. Instead of backtracking the way we came, which is certainly an option, and a quicker one at that, we decided to continue on 792 and pick up 24 creating a loop back to Damyang. The ride along 792 is scenic and relatively traffic-free, however it also hosted our biggest climb of the day. You’ll eventually ride past another county park, Gangcheonsan, which we unfortunately didn’t have time to explore on this trip.
Gangcheonsan Park Entrance
Near Sunchang, home of gojujang, you’ll pick up 24 which will take you back to downtown Damyang. This is by far the least fun 10km of the route. The gojujang village is over-the-top ridiculous and has nothing to offer outside of this one famous ingredient (i.e. no marts to restock on supplies) and this section of road is pretty miserable with narrow shoulders, fast cars and construction. Joy!
Once back in Damyang, you’ll pick up 887 downtown and basically head back the way you came. Time permitting, I’d recommend grabbing lunch in Damyang as the options are plentiful. We, of course, were in a race to get home before the sunset so instead chose to stop by the Bamboo Brewery (담주 브로이)
and pick up a few pitchers of ‘to-go’ bamboo beer and bamboo sausages to enjoy once we arrived back at the house. It’s a quick detour down 13, just outside of downtown, and only added an extra 15 minutes or so. The ride back on 887 is always a welcome finish to the day and we were able to catch the sunset at the Gwangju Lake Eco-Park right as we arrived home.
Gwangju Lake/Eco-Park/Mudeung Mountain
Once back at The Damyang House, we stocked the fireplace, poured some beers and enjoyed those tasty sausages!
Looking for a different route? Something easier? Something more challenging? Plenty of other suggestions can be found here