Winter Hiking in Sutonggol, Daejeon

Here’s a bit of a late posting on my recent hiking in Daejeon, South Korea. This was my first winter hiking and needless to say that I’ve enjoyed it more than the times I came to Sutonggol (수통골) in spring.  So far, the winter of 15/16 has been unusually warm and when we started out in the morning of December 20th the day was perfect for hiking.  The air was cool and moist with little to no wind.

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Sutonggol is part of a bigger mountain range categorized as Gyeryongsan National Park (계룡산 국립공원).  The popular hiking destination is located on the outskirts of Gyeryongsan but within the boundary of the city.  Because of its accessibility, the valley has made a name for itself and attracts many Daejeonites as well as visitors from out of town. My friend Eddy and I decided to aim for the longest route the mountain has to offer. The course begins with steep climb up towards Dodeokbong (535m) then continues along the relatively even path down the mountain.  The mountain ranger on the phone has told me that the average time to complete the course is 4~4.5 hours.  The distance comes up to about 10km total.

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Having never done a winter hike, I was a little nervous that the trails may be snowy and slippery. I was relieved as we got closer to the summit because most of the trails were snow-free.  There were some snow on top of the peaks but not to the point where you would need crampons.

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The sky was mostly cloudy with thick fogs at the base of the mountain. As we headed towards the top the fogs cleared up for us to take a moment and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

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Hiking alone at Suttonggol on a weekend is totally doable.  The course is not too difficult and the trails are well-managed.  There are lots of locals hiking in groups as well as solo. There’s a little chance that you’ll get lost as the trails are pretty straightforward. The 102, 103, and 104 city buses all make Sutonggol as their last stop so it is very convenient regardless of where you live in the city.

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Another thing that makes Sutonggol famous is the street lined with restaurants and cafes at the base of the mountain. Our post-hike meal was at one of the most well-known places on the block that serves steamed duck.  With local makgeolli (rice wine) flowing on the side, you could not ask for a better end of a day.

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