Update: This “trail” is also a pretty sweet off-roading adventure if you have a four-wheel option!
Here’s another suggestion for a shorter “bike’n hike” outing that can be done in an afternoon without leaving you exhausted at the end of the day. At around a dozen kilometers, this one is even shorter than the Wonhyosa Valley hike I previously suggested, yet still gets you off the beaten path and into some of the more remote corners of Mudeung National Park. Don’t be fooled by some of the gloomy weather and crappy phone camera…it’s a beautiful hike and besides a few local farmers, completely unknown and void of the day trippers swarming to the Eco-Park.
From the house you have a few options on how to get to the back entrance of the Eco-Park, where you’ll find the road leading to the trailhead. A bike will take you the 4km pretty quickly and is a no-brainer as you’ll be using the main roads. If time is on your side, I would suggest walking there via the rice paddies or by entering the main entrance of Eco-Park and walking through the park itself (ideally a combination of both).
Because I had my dog (another dog friendly hike!), I opted for the rice paddy route on the way there and the main roads on the way back (2-3 hours total). Here’s the cyclemter link to help you get your bearings. And here’s instructions:
Walk out to the main road and take a right. Take a quick left across the small service road that crosses the river.
Take a left when it dead-ends on the other side of the river and take the first left after that down this service road into the rice paddies (these turns are all very quick).
Follow this service road around through the rice paddies until you reach the cows in the blue stable. It’s gorgeous out here in nicer weather!
When you reach the cows take a right up the little hill. At the top you’ll have views of all the surrounding mountains, including Mudeung.
Just after the top of the hill you’ll want to take the first left down towards the middle school and a right at the intersection in front of the middle school. Again, these are all quick turns.
This will take you around to the Eco-Park parking lot and this fancy 7-11 where you can grab some snacks and drinks to take with you on your hike.
At the main road in front of the 7-11 you should take a left…you should be walking away from the Eco-Park main entrance and parking lot. This road will take you toward the back entrance of the park (you could walk through the park itself if you don’t have a dog with you!). You’ll also walk past this restaurant (황가내), which is a good place to stop for lunch if you’re hungry before or after your hike (the tofu is made in-house and infused with green tea…the kimche jiggae is 6,000 and AMAZING).
Just past this restaurant you’ll see a small road and bus stop. Turn here (right) and walk up the hill to the back entrance of Eco-Park.
This road leading up to and past the back entrance of Eco-Park will take you around to the lesser known side of Gwangju Lake. It’s a quiet walk/cycle along this road with a few small hills. Great fishing on this side of the lake as well so keep that in mind when you see small trails leading off the road down towards the bank of the lake.
Keep walking until you see this road/trail on your left. This will take you to the hidden lake. Once on this road it’s a straight shot with no turnoffs so pretty easy from this point. This trailhead is only a couple of kilometers from the back entrance of the Eco-Park.
Follow this trail (it’s more of a road…probably used by local farmers) up through the valley. You’ll eventually enter Mudeung National Park.
Once you reach the lake, you’ll find a small trail in between the lake and the rice paddies which will take you around the lake (clockwise). Pretty easy as it’s not a huge lake. The trail on the opposite side from the rice paddies is more pronounced and easier to follow. The trail on the side of the rice paddies tends to get overgrown in the summer months.
From here it’s all downhill back to the house and you get to enjoy the scenic valley views the entire way! Enjoy.