While you might want to wait awhile until the MERS outbreak in South Korea has died down, it’s never too early to begin planning an overseas trip! While the country of South Korea may not seem like an ideal place to mountain bike thanks to one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders (with North Korea) and highly-industrialized cities like the capital of Seoul, the country is equally well-known for “green, hilly countryside dotted with cherry trees and centuries-old Buddhist temples,” according to Google.
Indeed, the majority of South Korea’s land is mountainous and cannot be cultivated, with only 30% of the total land area as lowlands. Despite being located on the southern end of a peninsula, its relatively high latitude produces cold winters, and the monsoon season creates hot, humid summers. Consequently, spring and fall are best for mountain biking. (Source)
If you want to ride in an under-the-radar location and experience a unique culture at the same time, start planning your trip with these five highly-rated trails, according to Singletracks users in South Korea.
Machesan is a 16km ride with a stiff climb to the top of the ridgeline and then an entertaining ride back down on singletrack.
“This trail is nice to do in the weekend. The initial climb to the trail system is all gravel and you’ll have to pedal your way up to the mountain. Once you get to the top there’s a small gaze where you can rest for a bit and take pictures overseeing the city. From there is a nice cruise with small ups and downs as well as some challenging short climbs. It’s all single track. It’s nice for beginners to learn to ride as it has a nice variety of descents, dirts, gravel, and rock gardens. The trail overall gotten hit bad from the past winter and there’s lots of water runways which eroded the trail but it’s still ridable. My favorite technical spot is riding through the rock garden with small drops in them as well at the end because the trail will open up and you can ride pretty fast through it. you’ll wanna be careful halfway through the trail because the ROK army has made a bunker in the middle of the trail so don’t do what I did and eat it hard in the dirt. 🙂 ” -euphoria01
Wangbangsan is a trail system with numerous options and at least 48km of total riding available. Some sections of this trail system are 4×4 roads and others are singletrack. Be sure to check out the Chilbongsan trail for one of the most technical challenges in this area!
“Very fun MTB Trail. I had an absolute BLAST coming down these sections. It CAN be done on a hardtail if you have a somewhat decent technical skill set, otherwise, there’s Machasan right down the road.” -Ryan Ruhle
“Myoji” is the Korean word for “cemetery,” and this 13km singletrack route weaves through ancient burial mounds and offers great mountain views.
“This trail has good flow and a good grade. There’s very little if any hike-a-bike sections. It goes across a variety of scenery such as small farms, military bases, and grave yards. It’s short but definitely one of the better trail systems a short distance from downtown Seoul.” -alexander323
This is a close-to-the-city trail system with good singletrack and good flow. While our listing says it’s only 8km long, according to alexander323 it’s still worth checking out.
“This trail has good gradient and a lot of short trails to choose from. It’s a little technical but a great place to go for an afternoon ride near Seoul.” -alexander323
Gyeyangsan is home to some beautiful-looking singletrack. Since it’s close to Seoul and Incheon, two of Korea’s largest cities, it can get pretty crowded–but that means the trails must be good!
“This trail is crowded on the weekends. But the terrain is pretty interesting. Many parts are smooth and there is a couple of technical rocky sections.” -alexander323