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Gyeryongsan

North of Daejeon are the small ridges of Gyejoksan (Mt. Gyejok), which is sometimes called "Bonghwangsan" (Phoenix Mountain). It stands 423m (1,388 ft.) high and offers a good view of Lake Daecheong. On top is Gyejok Sanseong (tel. 042/623-9909), the largest of the fortresses left from the Baekje Period. There are two hiking trails to the fortress, one that is 5.6km (3 1/2 miles) long and takes about 2 hours and a longer 6.3km (4-mile) hike that takes about 3 hours. Most people time their hikes to catch the sunrise or sunset from the top.

Gyeryongsan National Park -- Located just 50 minutes from Daejeon by bus, Gyeryongsan (Mt. Gyeryong) National Park (tel. 042/825-3003) is one of South Korea's few rugged mountain ranges located near a major city. The national park stretches from Daejeon to Gwangju and Nonsan, and includes 15 peaks, the main one being Cheonhwang-bong. The park has several beautiful waterfalls and interesting rock formations -- the name Gyeryongsan means "Chicken Dragon Mountain," because the granite peaks rise up like a cock's comb or like the scales on a dragon's back. The spring brings cherry blossoms along the Donghaksa mountain trail, which leads to a lush green valley in the summer. The maple trees are gorgeous in the autumn and the snow-capped mountains are lovely in the winter. A mountain full of stories and myths, the area has had a long history of shamanism, animism, and the supernatural. Although most of the believers are long gone, traces of those ancient beliefs still exist in the area today.

From the Daejeon Bus Terminal or Yuseong Intercity Bus Terminal, take city bus no. 102 or 103 to Donghaksa. You can also take bus no. 2 bound for Gapsa, from the stop in front of the Yuseong Police Station. Running about 14 times daily, the ride takes about an hour. From the old Gongju Bus Terminal, take a bus bound for Donghaksa. Alternatively, take a city bus from Gongju to Sinwonsa. The park is open 6am to 7pm daily and admission is W2,000 adults, W1,000 teens, W500 children. Parking is W4,000.

There are minbak (homestay) places lining both sides of the road up to the parking lot. Once you continue up the road on foot, there are plenty of eating options lining the walkway to Donghaksa. The hiking trails begin after you pass the temple.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.