Seoul, a city with a population of 10 million, is an economic hub of Korea as well as the nation’s capital. Throughout the city, numerous green trails can be found between the many concrete buildings, where people can take leisurely strolls amid trees and flower beds. With four mountains within the city limits and four more mountains surrounding it, the city is truly blessed with an abundance of nature.
Since its construction began in 2009, Seoul Dulle-gil has become an incredibly popular hiking trail among Seoulites, as it passes by diverse attractions throughout the city, including historical and cultural heritage sites and well-maintained natural environments. One of the courses of the trail is called Naesasan (meaning “Four Inner Mountains”) Dulle-gil (or “Seoul City Wall Trail”), an 18.6-kilometer-long trail that links the four mountains of Seoul (Namsan, Naksan, Bugaksan, and Inwangsan mountains), the four main city gates, and Seoul City Wall. Another course of the trail is called Oesasan (meaning “Four Outer Mountains”) Dulle-gil, an 157 kilometers long trail that links Gwanaksan, Bukhansan, Suraksan, and Achasan mountains.
|Seoul Dulle-gil trails|
The combined length of the trail’s eight courses amounts to 157 kilometers, and the trail can be divided into three types: forest (85 kilometers), streamside (40 kilometers), and village (32 kilometers). One major factor that has contributed to the popularity of this trail that the starting and ending points of the courses are located close to subway stations; there are also many access points between subway stations. Of particular interest, there are 35 historical and cultural heritage sites, such as Buddhist temples, situated along the trail as well.
|Jarak-gil trails in Seoul||Barrier-free forest trail on Gwanaksan Mountain|
Seoul City is also creating green trails based on diverse themes. In 2015, the city established Jarak-gil trails on 16 mountains in 15 districts, and is planning to increase the number of trails to 21, including Neunggolsan Jarak-gil in Guro-gu. Jarak-gil trails are typically built in mountainous areas near villages with pleasant scenery and gentle slopes (gradient of nine percent or less).
These barrier-free forest trails are ideal places for people to rest and relax. The first barrier-free forest trail was created on Gwanaksan Mountain in May 2013. The entire section of the trail features gradients of less than eight percent (as per the requirements for facilities for people with disabilities), making it accessible to wheelchairs and baby carriages. The trails on Ansan Mountain, in Seodaemun-gu, and Seodalsan Mountain, in Dongjak-gu, are the most popular barrier-free forest trails in Seoul. The trail on Ansan Mountain (seven kilometers long), in particular, is the country’s first circular barrier-free mountain walking trail, passing through a forest of acacia, metasequoia, and spruce trees. Here, visitors can enjoy the refreshing aromas of the forest.
It is also a great location from which to enjoy the faraway scenery of Inwangsan and Bukhansan mountains and the Hangang River. In spring, cherry and acacia blossoms create a wonderful atmosphere. The trail on Seodalsan Mountain, in Dongjak-gu, offers a fantastic view of the Hangang River and passes nearby several major landmarks, including Seoul National Cemetery and Dalmasa Temple. There is also a pine-tree-lined path and “forest therapy” site.
|Ansan Mountain Jarak-gil in Seodaemun-gu||Buramsan Mountain Jarak-gil in Nowon-gu|
An increasing number of people are visiting green trails in Seoul to get some exercise by walking or enjoy some peace and quiet. So far, the city government has designated 40 walking trail courses categorized under four themes, i.e., forest (17 trails), valley (two trails), scenery (10 trails), and history/culture (11 trails), and installed signs that share stories related to each course, allowing people to choose the type of experience they prefer. Information leaflets are also distributed along the trails, providing brief introductions of each course, information on available public transportation, maps/photos, nearby landmarks, and stories related to each area.
This trail is located near Musugol (literally meaning “carefree village”), in Dobong-gu, one of the few farming villages left in Seoul. This village still maintains the atmosphere of farming villages of the past. In addition, visitors can take the trail up to Jahyeonam Temple, passing through a dense forest of pine trees, where they can enjoy the olden-day atmosphere of the area while taking in the view of Musugol Village.
This is a walking trail built on the former site of a quarry on Suraksan Mountain that was active in the 1970s. The various famous rocks along this trail, including Bae-bawi (ship-shaped rock), Gorae-bawi (whale-shaped rock), and Geoin baljaguk-bawi (giant footprint-shaped rock), encourage visitors to reminisce about the past. The trail also offers beautiful natural scenery. Other features include: Bongsan Patbaenamu (Mountain Ash Tree)-gil, Bugak Haneul Nadeul-gil (Skyway Walk), Achasan Neungseon Jeonmang (Lookout Ridgeline)-gil, Buramsan Seolhwa (Folktale)-gil, Gwanaksan Valley Nadeul-gil, and Gwanaksan Siheung Valley Forest Trail.
Seoul Metropolitan Government has made various efforts to transform sidewalks in downtown areas of the city into walking trails filled with flowers, trees, and rest areas. These efforts include covering the surface of concrete/stone structures and installing noise barriers and fences with flower beds.
|Sidewalk garden (Teheran-ro)||Greening of concrete walls (Nuwon-ro)|
Currently, Seoul is pushing ahead with the Alley Beautification Project, which is being carried out in collaboration with local citizens with the aim of fostering a more positive local community atmosphere. Under this project, local citizens are encouraged to plant and grow flowers and trees in idle spaces throughout the city’s neighborhoods and paint pleasant images on fences and walls. A total of 68 neighborhood alleys, including Inheon-gil, in Gwanak-gu, have been reborn as beautiful places that foster communication among locals.
|Before the project||After the project|
Through such efforts, the creation of green walking trails in the city has become a popular topic of discussion among Seoulites.