Hiking the Apsan Kosangol Valley Trail in Daegu South Korea

After consulting the map I decided to hike up to the Kosangol Valley because it would take me past the Mud Crack Ripple Mark and Dinosaur Footprint. Keep in mind I had no idea what either of those markers on the map would entail or whether or not I’d be able to discern them once I had arrived.

The rain threatened to come, but it was far too beautiful a day to stay indoors, and I wanted to go hiking. I prefer hiking on an overcast day, but not in the rain. I decided to go for the first hike of the year. So I pulled out my hiking boots—a pair of steel blue boots from Merrell I just bought. One of the greatest pleasures of living in South Korea is hiking its numerous mountains. Daegu’s Apsan Mountain is only one of them, and hiking the Apsan Kosangol Valley Trail is a great place to start.

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Hiking in Daegu—Kosangol Trail on Apsan Mountain

Living Like a Local

They are probably the most comfortable shoes I own besides my slippers. The insert says they are air-cushioned, Ortholite, and waterproof– the latter would prove to be important later that day. I called my husband to let him know where I was going since I was hiking alone. I parked in the bus parking lot at the base of Apsan Park. Ultimately, I was not looking for a lot of elevation today, just a good workout. After consulting the map, I decided to go hiking the Apsan Kosangol Valley Trail because it would take me past the Mud Crack Ripple Mark and Dinosaur Footprint. Keep in mind I had no idea what either of those markers on the map would entail or whether or not I’d be able to discern them once I had arrived. Thankfully I’d get both a good workout and some fantastic scenery too.

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Hiking is Serious Business in Korea

Beautiful mountains strategically surround Daegu with Aspen Park being the entrance to many of the beautiful hiking trails above the city and along the ridge lined with jagged rock formations and seasonal flora. Hiking Kosangol Trail on Apsan Mountain is a picturesque adventure. The park is comprised of three mountains: Apsan Mt (1968 ft), Sanseong Mt. (2142 ft), and Daedeok Mt. (1916 ft). Apsan Park is located in the valley where the three mountain ranges converge, offering convenient access to the beauty of all three mountain ranges.

Apsan

Means “mountain before the city” in Hangul. It towers above southern Daegu and offers visitors stunning views of the entire city.  Visitors can relax, take the cable car to the peak, picnic near a romantic waterfall, or stroll the colorful gardens with statues. You can also visit the Korean War Museum with actual airplanes and tanks or listen to a prayer being sung in the numerous Buddhist temples.

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Kosangol Valley

A dozen or more trails traverse the peaks of Apsan Mountain. Today I decided to climb a new one– hiking Kosangol Trail on Apsan Mountain. The valley is a beautiful hiking trail that encircles the Apsan Valley, under waterfalls, over streams and boulders, and up and down the mountain ranges for approximately 4 kilometers. The decision to hike the Kosangol Valley would take me past the Mud Crack Ripple Mark and Dinosaur Footprint because they sounded interesting. I had no idea what either of those markers on the map would entail or whether or not I’d be able to discern them once I had arrived. It turned out the mud would speak for itself.

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Eunjeok Temple

Hiking Kosangol Trail on Apsan Mountain begins at the base of Eunjeok Temple and is very steep. It kept me re-evaluating whether or not I was up to the task. I love having temples on the trail; it gives me a raison d’être (that’s French for a reason) to stop, explore, smell the incense, and listen to the monks chanting. It’s peaceful and cathartic, and catching my breath is a no-brainer. Some hikers walked backward because it was so steep, and the incline is torture on the ankles and calves. I heard the monk’s chant far before I reached the temple. As I did, I was greeted by another monk who took a moment to acknowledge me and then returned to his cell phone call. Some stairs look daunting but actually can be more accessible than the ridged concrete that leads up to the temple courtyard.

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Don’t Forget Your Camera.

The next part of the hike was my favorite. I pumped up the volume in my headphones and traversed the landscape on a mission. It was beautifully landscaped by mother nature with tons of trickling creeks, rolling waterfalls, and boulders covered with patches of thick moss. Many trees had buttons of sprouting flowers, and there was a thick layer of leaves covering the paths that meandered in and out of the trees. Foliage in vibrant colors ranged from burned orange to hunter green.

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Mud Crack Ripple Mark and Dinosaur Footprint

Mud Crack Ripple Mark and Dinosaur Footprint were muddy. And much as I expected, I missed “whatever” the Dinosaur Footprint was supposed to designate. I missed it before too because I had hiked this part of the trail last summer. I did, however, figure out where the Mud Crack Ripple Mark was. However, the run-off made it hard to keep my footing on this part of the trail. And I had to scale the muddy walls. As a result, I dropped my water bottle down the side of the embankment. I was nervous.

Hiking Alone

There was no one around. And it took a minute to regain my footing as I continued to slip further down the incline. However, I found a thick root to hold onto and pull myself up the side of the muddy hill. It wasn’t too steep, and my life was never in danger, but I was covered in mud. I lost the trail a few times and wondered into a bush of prickly pears that dug into both legs of my pants– an irritation that made getting lost and the 90-minute trek back to the car much worse than it should have been. It’s so funny that the hike out is always slower than the trek in probably has something to do with the familiarity of the trail you gain coming back.

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The Trail 

Trail abound, and there are some very hikes for the severe hiking enthusiast, connecting trails lead to other mountains in the same range, such as the three hours hike to Blue Dragon Mountain (2602 ft) or the eight-hour trek to the sacred Biseul Mountain Range (3556 ft). I’m always interested in a good hike, so if you have one I should try, please let me know in the comments below. I am grateful to everyone who reads, responds, or shares my blog articles… esp when it leads to new hiking buddies.

How to Get to Apsan Mountain

By cab or car, say or enter Ap-san Gong-won (앞산공원).  It should take around 20 minutes from downtown and cost around 7,000 Won. Several buses go to Apsan: 300, 410, 410-1, 750, or Rapid 4 directly to Apsan Park. Or take the red subway line to Anjirang Station (안지랑역), go out exit #3, then make a right towards the mountains. Hiking the Apsan Kosangol Valley Trail has its advantages, but there are also a lot of pretty cafes nearby– so enjoy!!

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24 thoughts on “Hiking the Apsan Kosangol Valley Trail in Daegu South Korea

  1. I am so glad I found your blog. We just moved here and with COVID going on we were looking for roadtrips and some stuff to do outside and we hit the lottery finding you. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I’m glad you found me. There are a ton of outdoorsy things to do that won’t be too far away. Enjoy and stay safe.

  2. I was Googling trying to find out how to get from Walker Lodging to Apsan mountain. People keep saying that there was a trail right outside the gate. We were trying to invite friends along too so when I saw your blog pop up as a result, I recognized it from the Apartments in Daegu blog which was so helpful to me as I was preparing for our move here and when looking for apartments. Anyway, after reading about all your “adventures” I’m pretty sure sending this link won’t be encouraging for them to come with us as even though it is and will be beautiful- it is STILL HIKING!!! Lol. (They are not the outdoorsy type.) I appreciate the detailed information and the pictures to get an idea of what to expect. I didn’t even think of traversing it alone, but maybe I could. And if I did, I could then choose whichever path I’d like. ? (A perhaps more serene experience than going with a family with children.)

  3. Hello! I’m so glad to have come across your blog while doing research for my upcoming trip to Daegu. The post is very informative and the pictures you took looks incredible! How long did it take for you to reach the top of Kosangol Trail?

    1. Hi Natalie. I’m glad you found me too. It can be done in two hours or so, depending on your fitness level, and which route you take…they don’t all lead to the mountaintop. Kosangol Trail doesn’t go too high, it meanders around the base of the mountain. Type in hiking and you’ll see some other trails that are a bit more challenging in and around Daegu. And make sure you subscribe and like my FB page too. I love interacting with readers, so anytime you have a question, let me know and if I don;t know the answer, I will direct you to who does. Thanks, Stacey.

  4. Amazing trekk you have been there! This makes me want to train harder and get better at trekking. I play a lot of sports but somehow I can’t trek – just simply get so tired! No cardio for that at all!

  5. This is a lovely hiking trail. I love hiking as it provides a great opportunity to commune with nature. This place really looks pristine to get lost in. Loved the post.

  6. Hiking has become such a favorite pastime in South Korea in recent years. With all the mountains and picturesque nature that they have, it’s a great place to be for a Western hiker.

    1. Yes, I agree, its great exercise outside of the gym– so much better than staring at a blank wall. I love going with my Korean friends and enjoying a snack afterwards at their favorite little cafes or sharing a delicious apple or pear on the trail while I practice my Korean with them.

  7. How long have you been writing this blog? I’m looking for info on the hike from Biseul Mt. back to Ap Mt. Any idea where I can find that info? The word San in Korean means mountain.

    1. Hi Pete. This blog is about 3 years old although the first two years were strictly about traveling Europe. I don’t have any info on that hike. Try the local hiking groups on Facebook, I seem to recall a hike to Mt Biseul being discussed on the YG Hiking group. Happy hiking.

    1. There are also many great hikes. Korea is more mountain than plain and they have taken full advantage of that, carving tons of trains in the stone.

  8. I visited South Korea for a long layover and did a fun city tour. I had no idea about all the hiking! I am super excited to go back and explore for more than 12 hours.

  9. That sounds fabulous. I’ll have to check out Merrills for a new pair of hiking boots. I’ve worn mine out. I’m actually doing Mt Biseoul next Saturday. It’ll be great getting back into the swing of things.

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