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Geumjeongsan Mountain, Hiking the highest peak in Busan

Geumjeongsan Mountain is the highest peak in Busan and it’s easy to access via a fun hike. It’s a great addition to the list of popular hikes in this city on Korea’s south coast.

Technically, there are multiple hikes of varying difficulty levels across the mountain, but we will focus mostly on the trail that takes you to the peak via the “North Gate”. This trail takes an average of 2 hours and 50 minutes to complete.

I was really happy to be recommended this hike because it’s quite an accomplishment to say you have hiked the highest of an area. It was a no-brainer that I had to climb this one too.

The mountain itself is located near the PNU (Pusan National University) campus so many students climb this mountain on the weekends. It’s one of the favourites in the city.

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Country:South Korea (Republic of Korea)
Currency:South Korean Won / KRW
Do you need a visa to visit as tourists?Check here

Trail stats for Geumjeongsan Peak

Length of trail:

6.8 km

Elevation Gain:

475 m gain / 801.5 m at the peak

Time to complete:

2 hours and 50 minutes

This is one of the most popular hikes in the city which is saying something since there are over 100 named mountains in Busan and each of them has at least one trail to complete.

It is a moderate trail which means that people with low athletic ability may struggle a little bit. There isn’t much possibility to take pushchairs as the majority of the trail is up staircases through a wooded area. However, you will likely meet many people along the way in both directions as it’s a popular hiking destination for locals and visitors to the city.

The paved trail between the station and the temple
On the way to Beomeosa temple

How to get there

If you choose to travel by public transport, don’t forget to top up your T Money card!

The closest station to the trailhead is Beomeosa station which is located on line 1 (the orange line). If you’re already in Busan, you must head to the north of the city towards Nopo to reach this station.

If you’re hoping to travel to Geumjeongsan on a day trip from Seoul or other parts of Korea, you must first travel into Gimhae airport before navigating the public transport system.

  • From Gimhae airport station you can take the Busan-Gimhae line (purple line) to Daejeo Station. Then switch to Line 3 (brown line) to Yeonsan Station. Then finally switch to Line 1 (orange line) and take the train to Beomeosa Station. This journey will take approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • Or for only one transfer, consider taking the 307 bus from the Gimhae international terminal to Dongnae Lucky apartment (25 stops), walking 8 minutes to Dongnae Station and taking Line 1 (orange line) to Beomeosa Station.

Alternatively, you can rent a car on Klook to drive yourself near the temple.

From Beomeosa station, you will need to head towards Beomeosa Temple. This is one of the largest temples in Busan and is a very popular attraction so many people include it in their hiking trail to the peak as an added extra.

Much of this part of the trail is along a main road through a residential area so it is well-maintained. It is paved and gradually takes you up to a high part of the mountain almost effortlessly.

There are a few sections of the road that have an added staircase into them for a slightly better view above the trees but this is only in a few places. Eventually, you will reach the temple which is clearly signposted.

What to expect on the Geumjeongsan Mountain hike?

After leaving the temple you will find the trail looks more like how you’d expect as it’s right behind a car park and goes into the forest. This section of the trail consists of concrete steps that lead upwards through the trees. It’s a rather gradual incline, to begin with, but soon picks up to become steep.

It’s impossible to get lost at this stage in the journey as there are signposts clearly showing the way. Plus, there are small ropes being used as a fence to keep people on the marked trail. You will be following the stone steps for quite some time.

The trail will eventually flatten out and you’ll reach a gate which looks similar in design to a Buddhist temple.

There are some benches along the way and even a public bathroom by the gate too.

This gate is a key marker along the journey as this is where the trail separates into multiple different directions. Once you’ve walked through the gate you can either continue straight, go left or go right. If you go straight you will continue along one of the longest hiking trails which will take you to the south side of the mountain.

If you go right at this point instead, you will start making your way up the mountain towards the peak.

The North Gate
This is the view of the peak from the gate.

Want some more hiking inspiration? Check out these popular hikes in Busan:

Stairs & the Geumjeongsan spring

After turning right to walk in the direction of the peak, you’ll start going up on a gradual incline again. There will be a mix of different stairs along this part of the journey. Changing from stone stairs to wooden ones and the occasional scrambling over large rocks.

The good news is, you’ll always know you’re heading in the correct direction as unlike other trails you can clearly see the peak from most of this track. Eventually, you will reach a small clearing in the trees and will find a sign for the Geomjeongsan spring (like below).

This is a small spring which doesn’t look like much during the winter months, but in the summer it is beautifully filled with blooming trees. There is a seating area here and a small well where we saw some locals collecting water from with little buckets.

This is a great place to stop for a brief snack break before walking up the steepest part of the trail to reach the summit.

Sign for the Geumjeongsan Spring
The wooden staircases nearing the Geumjeongsan peak

The peak & viewpoints

Since Geumjeongsan Mountain is the largest peak in Busan you can imagine the views from the top are impressive. Once you reach the mountain’s highest point you’ll be able to see 360 views of the city and the park below.

When completing the loop trail, the peak is roughly the midway point of the entire hike. It’s at this stage that you will experience the biggest incline. You’ll have about 15 minutes of walking almost straight up staircases until you reach the first wooden observation platform. This first platform gives you the first insight into the views to come.

The steepest staircase just before the summit

If you go up another 2 flights of stairs from the platform, you’ll reach the large rocky area where the “peak rock” is located. To your left, you’ll find the well-known rock with Korean language carvings in it which tells you the height of the peak.

If you continue left past the rock you’ll find a small plateau where you can get some more photo opportunities. This requires a bit of a scramble so you’ll likely need to use your hands as well.

Be warned: Some sections of the peak have steep drops so stay away from the edges and always use caution.

Left: Me at the peak rock Right: My housemates and I

If you had gone to the right at the top of the stairs instead of walking past the peak rock, you’ll find another wooden platform. This platform is more of a walkway instead of just a place to observe the view.

The walkway will take you to the opposite side of the Geumjeongsan mountain peak to show you completely different views of Busan. There is a spiral staircase at the end of the platform and another large collection of rocks so if you leave the marked trail you need to be careful here too. One section just off of the walkway in this direction is very steep.

Once you head down the spiral staircase you will be starting your journey back down the mountain and making your way back to the trailhead and Beomeosa station. Much of this side of the hiking trail gets muddy easily so I’d advise wearing shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. The trail is easy to follow this way and is clearly marked.

Just be aware, from time to time some fences get moved to slightly change the walking route and protect the vegetation.

The best way to stay on the route – even if you think you’re lost – is to use the AllTrails app. It’s an app I use myself on almost every hike I do. You can use the map offline if you pay for the premium, or you can use the free version to follow along the trail.

The walkway from one side of the peak to the other

The connecting trails on Geumjeongsan Mountain

What’s great about Geumjeongsan Mountain is that there are multiple trails you can hike on. There are multiple ways you can hike up or around the mountain to see the city from different perspectives.

This post mostly talks about the loop trail named “Geumjeongsanseong via North Gate” which takes you from Beomeosa station to the Geumjeongsan peak and back to the station. However, there are other trails that connect or cross over from this trail onto others.

That means you can attempt multiple trails in one day if you have the energy, or you can come back and do them at a later time.

The main trails are as follows:

  • Geumjeongsanseong via North Gate (this trail)
  • Beomeosa – Geumjeongsan – Godangbong Loop
  • Seokbulsa Temple
  • Geumjeongsan East Gate, Children’s Park & Seokbulsa Temple
  • Beomeosa

Day Hike EssentialsWhy?
Appropriate footwear & socksLess likely to injure yourself & more comfortable
Portable battery pack & wireTo charge your electronic devices
Water (0.5L per hour roughly)To keep yourself hydrated throughout the hike
FoodPreferably lightweight but healthy snacks
Trail DirectionsPhone/GPS device, compass or paper map
Mobile OR satellite phoneHelpful in emergencies to call for help
Clothing layersTo put on or remove based on changes in weather
HatTo prevent sunstroke or keep warm
SunglassesTo see better without squinting all-day
First aid kitTo solve minor injuries along the way
Multi-toolMultiple uses for multiple problems
IlluminationTorch or phone light to navigate in the dark
Me looking over part of the city from the peak

Summary of the Geumjeongsan mountain hike

If you can successfully complete the Geumjeongsan Mountain hike you should be proud to say you have climbed the biggest peak in the city! It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and earn yourself a refreshing drink in Seomyeon afterwards!

Have you hiked Geumjeongsan yet? What did you think of it?

Want some more hiking inspiration from my other gap year trips?

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