Yupyeong/Daewon-sa to Cheonwang-bong
Yupyeong/Daewon-sa to Cheonwang-bong
The grand footbridge to Somak-gol campground, a great quiet spot next to the ever-raging Daewon-cheon stream
Yupyeong - 10.2-13.7km, 5.5-7.5hrs - Cheonwang-bong
Refer to trail map at bottom of page
The trail from the Yupyeong entrance to Daewon-sa is the longest and most arduous approach to Cheonwang-bong. Although never quite as steep as the trail from Jungsan-ri it's twice as long and you should ensure an early start, especially if planning to come off the mountain down to Jungsan-ri, as it can be very easy to eat up a lot more than the times above.
The Yupyeong Park entrance is located in the north-eastern Sancheong coounty area of Jiri-san, and is fairly quiet outside of the peak summer vacation period, when the campground can be very popular due to its riverside location. The large car park next to the small information kiosk and restaurant at the park entrance is still 3.5km from the Yupyeong trail entrance and village itself, but if coming by bus you will have to walk the valley road from here as it's the end of the bus line. There is not a lot of parking further up the way either, a couple of dozen spaces at Daewon-sa temple 2km up the road, and a few verges to pull into on the way to Yupyeong village (which has no formal carpark aside from minbak and restaurant parking) so on a busy day even private drivers should consider parking here and walking up, especially if planning a traverse and bussing back the next day.
Across the stream from the National Park entrance and carpark is the Somak-gol campground, a real beauty nestled between the forested slopes and Daewon-cheon stream - one of the best campgrounds in all Jiri-san. To get to the campground walk to the upstream end of the carpark and follow the small trail which eventually opens up to a footbridge crossing the stream (above). Somak-gol has a good toilet block and cooking area - but no showers. The restaurant near the carpark does pretty good meals and sells beer and basic supplies - but you'll need to bring pretty much everything else. Just before the footbridge is a small office to pay the camping fee, but all three times I've been there its been unmanned!
The 3.5km of road from here up past Daewon-sa to the Yupyeong trailhead to Cheonwang is a great drive and also a good walk, following above the mighty mountain stream, if you have to hike it, expect to take an hour to Yupyeong, plus whatever time you want to spend at Daewon-sa.
Daewon-sa, one of Jiri-san's major temples, is another 2km up the road from the campground. First built in the year 548 it has, like most around this area, been burnt down and destroyed a number of times. The current buildings were constructed in 1957.
The jewel of the temple is the 9-story pagoda erected by Jajang-yulsa in 648 to hold the Sari (remains) of Buddha, which he brought through China from India - this too has been knocked about and was most recently restored in 1989.
Nowadays Daewon-sa is one of Korea's largest convents for Buddhist nuns, and like most temples run by women is a clean, quiet and peaceful place with well tended gardens. There is a small gift shop at the entrance selling incense, beads, literture and the usual temple tat, as well as a good tea house/restaurant down by the river. Daewon-sa runs a private temple stay program, and details can be found here - This Daewon-sa should not be confused with the temple of the same name in Boseong, Jeollanam-do, which is part of the official Templestay program on the English website.
Yupyeong Village is located 1.5km up the road from Daewon-sa and is a quaint mountain outpost on the banks of Daewon-cheon stream.Yupyeong has half a dozen good looking restaurants, a small mart and a few minbaks. This is the last spot to get a meal/supplies before hitting the long trail to Cheonwang-bong. The mart stocks gas bottles and batteries, ramen noodles and the like.
As mentioned above there is no carpark at Yupyeong, a hundred metres or so short of the village though are a couple of verges cut out of the side of the road where I've parked without issue before. The restaurants of course have carparks, but unless you've arranged something with the owner it's not a possibility.
Yupyeong - Chibatmok Shelter 6.2km 3.5hrs
Leaving Yupyeong village proper the trail/road continues to follow the Daewon-cheon, carving its way through massive boulders - this a great place to be in summer, and would make the drive up here worthwhile even if hiking wasn't on the agenda. The power of the mountain in storm was evident on my last visit, with a house built too close to the stream filled halfway to the ceiling with river boulders, and perched prcariously on the new rivers "edge". At this back-end of the village a few new minbaks and pensions have been built on the hillside. It is here that the trail heads into the forest, while the road continues another 3.7km up the river to Saejae-maeul (Bird Pass Village).
Looking East down Chibatmok Ridge (left)
Heading southwest into the forest the tral follows a small stream up the narrow Hanpi-gol gorge. Climbing is steady for a couple of Kilometres up to the heavily wooded Chibatmok-neungsan (ridge). From here the going gets a bit tougher as you walk on the southern side of the ridge which arcs west, then south-west toward the head of the Jangdang-gol gorge. There are some tricky sections, with large boulders and frequent dips and climbs. You'll meet a junction from where a track runs north to Saejae Village, from here the trail descends southeast to the floor of the gorge, and crosses to the south side of the stream, you'll follow the stream for a good kilometre or so before the trail heads west for the final climb to Chibatmok Shelter.
Mujechigi Falls 무제치기폭포 - are located a couple of hundred metres off the right of the trail, about a kilometre before reaching the shelter. They're some of the largest, more impressive falls in Korea, and well worth a look-see.
The falls have always been signposted from the trail, but on my last visit (May 2012), there was no signage evident for the small side trail. At that time there were major improvements being made to the trail in general, so perhaps the trail had been closed for renovation, there was also a lot of damage throughout this trail by heavy rains in the summer of 2011, which could also be a factor. I doubt these falls will be inaccessible for long though, they're an amazing feature of Jiri-san, and the grandest falls I've seen in South Korea.
Chibatmok Shelter cannot be booked in advance.
Floor space is given on a first-come-first-served basis, and this policy reflects the popularity of the Daewon-sa route, it is a tough, long slog from Yupyeong to here, with little reward in terms of views and the shelter can be a great site when you arrive out of the trees. Chibatmok is in a great spot for a morning assault on the high ridge, nestled in a high pass between Sseori-bong (1587m) to the south and an unnamed 1484m peak to the north. Our trail to Cheonwang-bong heads north from the shelter to Sseori-bong.
Looking South to Cheonwang-bong
Chibatmok Shelter - 4km, 2hr30min - Cheonwang-bong
From the shelter the trail heads south, climbing steadily for just over a kilometre to the summit os Sseori-bong (1587m, which offer good open views to the east.
At Sseori-bong we turn left, the next couple of kilometres is slow going on an undulating ridge and a steady climg to the summit of Jung-bong, at 1875m, arguably the 2nd highest peakon mainland South Korea, but rarely counted as such due to it's close proximity (1km) to Cheonwang-bong, which claims it as its own!
There is a decent pass between the two peaks though, and the trail drops south into it, before climbing up to the mighty peak of Cheonwang-bong.
Arriving at the summit, the trail to Jungsan-ri (5.3km) is immediately to your left, heading south-east down to the village.
To Jeongteomok shelter continue straight, south west along the beginning of the Baekdu-daegan ridge for 1.7km - this is a beautiful ridge walk but can take up to an hour and a half, there are a few tricky ups and downs, and rocky features to get around.
Jung-bong, from Cheonwang-bong
Getting To Yupyeong/Daewon-sa
By Car, Expressway 35 running from Daejeon - Jinju
refer to road map below bus schedule
As the crow flies the Sancheong Exit of Expressway 35 north of Danseong, is closer to Daewon-sa, and it may be tempting especially coming from the north to get off here, but this involves crossing the Bammeo-ri pass - a high, windy passage which will can take a while to get over.
It could be best to get off at Danseong, head on the National Highway 20 to Deok-san and then turn right onto NH 59 - the road follows the Deokcheon river north for 10km or so before reaching the turnoff to Daewon-sa, well marked left at the Myeongseon junction, in a little village called Pyeongcheon. The road gets thinner and thinner as you approach Yupyeong, the bus will stop at the carpark of the Somak-gol campsite, if you're driving its possible to keep going up to Daewon-sa - and further still to Yupyeong village at the start of the trail.
Buses leave regularly from Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal for Daewon-sa- schedule opposite.
Jinju - 진주 Daewon-sa - 대원사.
Express buses run from Seoul's Nambu Bus Terminal 남부터미널 every 30mins or so from 6:20 am till 9pm. With 3 late night buses at 22:10, 23:00 and midnight, these buses head for Jinju, usually via Wonji Terminal (원지) near Sancheong to the east of the park.
Sancheong is considerably closer to Jiri-san than Jinju. so getting off at Wonji would be the way to go.
Buses also run from Wonji Terminal to Daewon-sa. The earliest is 7am, they then run hourly from 7:50 to 20:50. With a surprising last bus at 20:55.
Daewon-sa to Wonji - 9:35, 11:35, 13:35, 15:30, 17:30 and 19:05.
From Busan Sasang Bus Terminal one direct bus a day runs to Daewon-sa, at 14:10.
Below: Road Map for Eastern Jiri-san (Daewon-sa, Jungsan-ri) area.
Bottom of Page: Trail Map with Distance and Times from Daewon-sa