Family hiking in the Korean mountains


We’re going to the beach!

We’re going to the market!

We’re going to ride a train!

Poppy was confused on where actually we were going on this weekend trip since we’ve taken so many recently. But I reminded her again.

Oh, right! We’re going to the MOUNTAIN!!!!

We’ve recently discovered a newfound desire to explore on the weekends. Maybe it’s because, after 10 years, Korea is starting to feel like chartered territory and it’s time to start exploring again to fight that idea. Or maybe because both Whit’s and my job can be demanding during the week. Or maybe because the kids just love exploring so much. Either way, we hopped on AirBnB last week, found this charming pension in the mountains near Jirisan, and was booked and ready to go within an hour.

Designated as the first national park in 1967, Jirisan stretches out as the largest mountainous national park in South Korea, spanning three provinces. Its name means “the mountain of the odd and wise people.” Since ancient times, Jirisan has been known as one of the three legendary mountains in Korea, and it’s a hallowed ground of the nation’s faith.

We’ve been to Jirisan once before when Whit and I hiked the in its entirety – a 4-day, sun-up-to-sun-down challenging trek that remains one of our favorite adventures in Korea.

But, a decade and two children later, we were looking for a more relaxed and kid-friendly way to enjoy a weekend in the beautiful Jiri mountains. And this was it.

We hiked. We swam. We hammocked.We kicked a soccer ball across the yard.  We ate loads of sanjae bibimbap, loaded with local mountain vegetables.

Oh, and we potty-trained Poppy. (Who says you have to confine yourself at home for these types of training sessions? Not us!)

It was a weekend of laughs, adventures, and bonding beneath the hallowed shadows of Jirisan.

Poppy is already asking where we’re going next weekend. And we’ve got a great answer.



Do it yourself!

Where: Jirisan National Park
Accommodations마폭포 – 다래골펜션
Family hike recommendations:
1. Just behind our pension (linked above), there was a trailhead that led straight up the mountain. It was steep, but our 6-year-old and 2-year-old both managed to walk/crawl most of it by themselves. (We had a backpack carrier for the toddler, but she demanded to walk the whole thing!)
2. Our pension was also conveniently located just a couple miles from the temple, Byeogsongsa. We drove down from the pension and parked at a parking lot just below the temple and hiked up the hill and through the woods around the temple. The hike up was steep and windy but once we arrived, our kids felt they had truly reached the heavens.
Where to eat:
There’s a lovely sanchae (wild vegetable) bibimbap place located at the bottom of the temple area of Byeogsonsa. If you walk through the restaurant there are tables along the outside deck with an incredible view of the rocky river below and mountains above.

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