Hiking getaway: Gyeryongsan Mountain and Donghaksa Temple

Gyeryongsan Mountain National Park stretches across Daejeon, Gongju, and Nonsan. The mountain range is famous for its silhouette which resembles a dragon wearing a rooster’s comb on its head. It’s also the literal translation of the name Gyeryongsan (Dragon and chicken mountain). Other than the interesting name, the mountain offers several peaks, waterfalls, ponds, and temples. It also boasts an impressive variety of fauna and flora.


1) From Seoul/major metros: Take the intercity bus to Daejeon.

2) From Daejeon: Hyeonchungwon Station (Daejeon Subway Line 1), Exit 3.
Take Bus 107 and get off at Donghaksa Temple.

3) Driving: Type in: 동학사. Alternatively, search via the telephone number +82-42-825-2570.  Parking is available for a fee of 3000 Won for a small car and 6000 Won for a Sedan/SUV.

Where to stay:

You can choose between staying in Gongju or Daejeon. Gongju is a small town, and the main attraction is the mountain and temples in the vicinity. There are a few options of staying close the park entrance, I will post links below.  Daejeon is a proper city and there’s no shortage of things to keep you busy, or places to stay at.

Use the following links to find accommodation:

Kapsa Youth Hostel

Donghak Mountain Villa

Jaja Motel/Hotel (Close to the Temple Entrance to the Park)

Sky Pension Motel (Close to the temple entrance to the park)

Little Forrest Guesthouse (in Gongju- 15Km from Park entrance)

What do Do:

  • Visit Donghaksa Temple, an all female monk academic institute.

  • Visit the Gyeryongsan Visitors center to see a display of the different animals and insects that can be found in the park.
  • Hike one of the many routes (easy, intermediate and advanced).

    Gyeryongsan 004 (1)
    Hiking Routes
  • See how many mushrooms you can spot.
  • Eat at the mushroom restaurant (shaped like a mushroom with all mushroom dishes).
  • Eat in the river. I did not make a typing error, you literally get a table and chairs, plunk it down in the river (it’s more a stream than a river) and somebody will come and get your order and fetch your food from one of the many restaurants lining the street next to the river. For this you need to be able to speak some Korean, there are no menus. I suggest scouting the restaurants before heading down to the river, maybe take a picture of the restaurant and the dish you want to show to the person taking your order. I suggest wearing some bug repellent and shorts/pants that can roll up easily since everything below your knees will be in the water.

    Main Restaurants (back side facing the river)
  • Enjoy the freshly baked bread and pastries at the numerous coffee shop and patisseries on the main road.
  •  Shop for souvenirs (main road).
    Main Road, away from the Park entrance

    Main Road, towards the Park entrance
  • Have a photo shoot.
  • End your hike by joining the families sitting and swimming in the shallow parts of the river. Find a nice flat rock and rest your feet in the icy water. While you’re there, build a rock stack. People stack rocks for various reasons. Some do it as a form of prayer, others build a rock stack with a rock to resemble each of their family members. Rumour has it that building and wishing on a rock stack has some magical powers -if the stack stands, the wish will come true, but if it falls your wish will die with it.
    River chilling
    Chilling in the river

    Rock stacking
    Theo’s awesome stack
  • Visit the ‘brother and sister’ stone pagodas and drink some fresh mountain water at the temple site adjacent to the pagodas. If mountain water isn’t your thing, pack some Makgeolli or Soju and join the other hikers under the trees or on the cute turtle rock chairs.
  • Brother and Sister Pegoda

Sadly due to some office PC upgrades and being bad with backups I lost all my photos of this hiking trip. Full disclosure; a few photos in the post I grabbed from Instagram using the snipping tool. The street shots are snippets from Google Maps. I know the quality sucks, but trust me when I say this is totally a hike worth taking!




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