In Korea, there is an old saying that describes fall as the season in which “the sky is high and horses get fat.” And every fall, numerous popular outdoor destinations are full of people looking to experience the beauty of nature. Under clear blue skies, various types of trees throughout Seoul wave their beautifully colored leaves. There is no need to go far away; now is the perfect time to walk the streets of Seoul with the sound of crunching leaves underfoot and the fragrance of fall in the air.
Most of Seoul’s “fall foliage paths” along the water are located along the embankments of the city’s streams, including the Anyangcheon, Jungnangcheon, and Hongjecheon streams. These are the ideal places to enjoy a leisurely walk away from the incessant sound of traffic and the smog of the city. The blue fall sky and clear view of the landscape that these places provide are incredibly refreshing and calming.
Songjeong Embankment (from Seongdonggyo Bridge to Gunjagyo Bridge) is famous for its dense trees, while the embankment path along Jungnangcheon Stream is famous for the foliage of its flowering cherry and zelkova trees. Also, the embankment path along Uicheon Stream in Gangbuk-gu has particularly beautiful plane trees with wide-reaching branches and leaves that create breathtaking fall scenery for all visitors to enjoy.
Seoul’s “fall foliage paths” provide easy access to handicraft shops, art galleries, and restaurants and offer a wonderful view of the fall colors. As they offer so much to see and do, these places are perfect for weekend outings with family and loved ones.
Samcheongdong-gil is a fall foliage path lined with zelkova trees that create particularly beautiful fall scenery. Located near Gyeongbokgung Palace, this path also provides an experience of traditional Korean culture, and the nearby handicraft shops and art galleries in the Samcheong-dong area attract many visitors. After grabbing a hot cup of jujube, ginseng, or ginger tea from one of the many hanok-style cafes in the area, take a walk through Samcheong-dong while enjoying the unique aroma of the tea.
Deoksugung-gil is another of Seoul’s most famous fall foliage paths. The large gingko and zelkova leaves create a pleasant contrast with the small apricot leaves, and the calming colors of the leaves provide city dwellers with some much-needed respite from the hectic rhythm of urban life. For those looking for a taste of culture, the Seoul Museum of Art and Jeongdong Theater are located nearby.
Itaewon-ro is also famous for its gingko and plane trees. While Samcheongdong-gil and Deoksugung-gil are characterized by their simple, old-fashioned fall foliage paths, Itaewon-ro is one of the hippest and trendiest places in Seoul. For those with adventurous taste buds, there are restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world in nearby Haebangchon and along Gyeongnidan-gil.
Another great place in fall, the trail along Cheonggyecheon Stream is a mainstay in the lives of Seoul citizens. Because of the many corporate buildings and academies nearby, the Cheonggyecheon path is usually full of office workers and students taking a break from their work or studies. It is a place where people can relax, find some temporary solace in the natural surroundings, and hope for a better future.
To experience more foliage than is typically available along walking trails or street sidewalks, take a short trip to one of the city’s large parks, especially Namsan, Ttukseom, and Songpa Naru.
Located in Songpa-gu, Olympic Park features many large trees, which have grown significantly since the park was created over 20 years ago. Situated nearby, Songpa Naru Park (Seokchon Lake) is home to beautiful flowering cherry trees. This is a great place for parents with small children as they can stop by Lotte World as well for a little more active fun. Sangam-dong’s World Cup Park, which is famous for its silver grass (Haneul Park) and fall foliage (Pyeonghwa Park), is another great place in fall. These places offer visitors a broader view of nature that is unavailable in most large metropolitan cities.
The north walking trail at Namsan Mountain is one of the most famous in Seoul and is alive with beautiful fall foliage from its flowering cherry trees. This pedestrian-only path is easily accessible by wheelchair users and those with baby strollers, making it an ideal place for senior citizens and people with disabilities to enjoy the fall outdoors. Contrary to the hectic lives of most Seoul residents, the view of Seoul from Namsan Mountain is a truly refreshing sight, offering a moment of peace and quiet.
The foliage walking trails in Seoul’s mountains are places where visitors can enjoy fresh air and fall foliage at the same time.
Among Seoul’s mountains, Gwanaksan Mountain is one of the first to dress itself in the shades of fall. Located a short walk from the main gate of Seoul National University, this mountain is a very popular leisure destination for many citizens due to its easy accessibility and paved paths, which are perfect for baby strollers and older visitors in wheelchairs. Also, the many rest areas along the mountain’s trails ensure a comfortable hiking experience for everyone.
Bukhansan Mountain, on the other hand, is a bit steeper and features more rugged terrain. The fall foliage paths of this mountain are recommended for those seeking an active workout as opposed to a leisurely walk. As there are so many rocks, it is best to go slowly along the trails of Bukhansan Mountain. And compared to other mountains, the deep, rugged terrain allows only small amounts of sunlight to filter through the trees, as if Mother Nature were asking people to slow down and take a moment to appreciate what sunlight there is.
In order to allow citizens to fully experience fall, which only comes for a short while once a year, the city of Seoul is currently making plans to refrain from sweeping up fallen leaves in 100 designated locations until mid-November. As a result, Seoul citizens will be able to enjoy the sound of leaves underfoot throughout the fall season.