Hiking. It happens in Korea. A lot. One hike in particular is well-known in the Korean hiking community, but little known in the foreign community — the Jagged Ridge Trail. And it is one of Korea’s best kept secrets.
The Jagged Ridge Trail has been described by several bloggers as being one of the best hikes in Korea. The trail is renowned for its steep and challenging terrain and for its seven jagged peaks – each showing off exquisite views of the Island, the ocean and beyond.
The journey to Sarayang-Do island is a time consuming yet necessary one. It begins with a bus ride to Tongyeong. Once safely in Tongyeong, hail a cab and head to the ferry terminal. Buy a ticket for Sarayang Do Island and then relax on the hour and 15 minute ferry ride there. You will spy Koreans young and old merrily passing around bottles of soju during this time.
Arriving at the Island there are Korean women selling sweet potatoes and masses of seafood, stores selling makgeolli and scallion pancakes, and a collection of lonely tug boats. The food stores are the perfect place to refuel post hiking.
The trail is 6km in total, but tag on an extra 1km to get back to the ferry terminal. The four to five hour hike begins with a rather steep climb and then levels out…briefly. Suddenly you come face to face with a gigantic boulder — the first of seven peaks to climb. At this moment the trail becomes less hike, more mountain climb. You must maneuver your way up and over the jagged rocks, stopping only occasionally to take in the stunning views.
As you look down from the peaks you will see small villages resembling lego towns, hikers in the distance, and the ocean stretching out beyond the horizon. This is also the time you realize the only thing standing between you and certain death is your ability to remain upright as you scale the sharp and increasingly jagged rocks. Sometimes there is a rope to help you, sometimes not. You will be amused to see the Korean hikers gliding over the peaks with ease. They have a firm grip on the Jagged Ridge Trail as they power over the peaks and remain completely undaunted by the whole experience.
The Jagged Ridge Trail is a challenge, but it is made worthwhile by the breathtaking views at the top of the peaks. In between plotting your way over the rocky giant peaks, you will encounter several bridges suspended between two mountains. Walking over these will test your balance skills.
For people with a penchant for adventure, the Jagged Ridge Trail is ready for you this spring. The peaks are intense, and although described as an easy hike by some Korean hikers, this is most definitely more challenging than your average hike. But it also offers an extreme sense of accomplishment when you finish, not to mention a showcase of Korea’s natural environment.
At the conclusion of the hike, knees and legs were sore and cameras were feeling heavy around peoples necks. It was time for some well deserved makgeolli and a toast to a stunning day on the Jagged Ridge peaks.
Getting there: From the Sasang bus terminal in Busan, take the bus to Tongyeong. Once in Tongyeong, grab a taxi to the ferry terminal. Purchase a ticket to Sarayang do Island. Once on the Island, you can make your way to the glorious seven peaks. Getting to the trail-head can be difficult, so it’s best to inquire at the ferry terminal building or better still ask one of the Korean hikers outside. The last ferry leaves at 6pm so make sure you catch it or you will spend the night on the Island!
Tongyeong City, which is known for its oysters and awesome seaside views, has an official website here.
Photos by Frances McAdam