Mt. Dongdaebong, a.k.a. Mujang-san




A worthwhile destination in Gyeongju: Mt. Dongdaebong, a.k.a. Mujang-sanHiking to Mujangbong Peak to view silvergrass



I went to Mt. Dongdaebong, also known as Mujang-san (Mujangbong Peak), renowned for its scenic silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis, which looks a lot like pampas grass).
If you’d like to go there, you can type in the destination “Wangsan Ma-eul” (왕산마을) in your GPS, since the trailhead for this hike is in that village, located in the Amgok area of Bomun Lake Resort.
Going past Deokdongho (Deokdong Lake) on the way to the ravine, wow~ I saw a really cool ‘tunnel of trees.’  
I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get a better photo with my phone camera. These must be cherry trees.
If they look this pretty in the fall, imagine how fantastic they would be in the spring.




Once you get to Wangsan village, keep going straight and you’ll see a parking lot on the right.
Spotting a giant sign declaring that this location appeared in the TV drama “Queen Seondeok, ”
 I snapped a photo.
Even though the parking lot was big, it was really crowded, 
since silvergrass viewing season was underway.
It was a weekday morning when I went, after sending my little one off to day care. 
Still, I just barely found a parking spot.
I think it’s better to get there early, even on weekdays. Park on the right side, 
and then just keep going up.







You’ll see a signpost for the “Three-Storied Stone Pagoda of Mujangsa Site and Mujangbong Peak.
From this point, you should head to the right. 




Wow~ the scenery surrounding the village is really pretty.
I was full of admiration for the multicolored autumn foliage 
and the beauty of the mountains in fall.






Here is a park custodian.
Mujang-san is located within Gyeongju National Park, and marks the boundary with Pohang.







Before you set out on your actual hike, 
its a good idea to refer to the hikers information board and check out the various hiking courses. 
There are two routes from the park entrance to reach the silvergrass habitat at Mujangbong Peak.
The hiking trail that runs along the ravine has a more gradual incline and is 5.4km.
A steeper hiking trail running through the woods is 3.5km.
Going up, I chose the steep hiking trail, thinking that trail would be riskier on the way down.
Coming down, I picked the more gradual hiking trail, 
and saw the pagoda at the Mujangsa temple site.
Time: 3.5 hrs 





The autumn mountains are beckoning their welcome.
The view is truly fantastic.





A short distance past the park entrance, there is a crossroads.
As I mentioned, there is a gently sloping route along the ravine and a steeper, 
more mountainous path through the woods.
To save time, I chose the shorter but steeper route.
The path that unfolded before me was too easy to be considered steep, and my tread was light.
I saw a squirrel along the way.
I hadn’t brought my walking stick, so I picked up a long branch to be my companion. 






After about 300 meters, I saw this sign pointing the way to Mujangbong Peak. 
Go left - 2.8km.
Aha, I guess the steep route was referring to this path.
The so-called Ggalddak (gasping and panting) pass.






Its hard to tell from this photo, but you have to climb a steep path for a long time.
This is the hardest part.
Although its not very difficult compared to other mountains,
 this has to be the toughest climb to Mujangbong peak.






Even though I had hiked for quite a while, it was still 2.5km more.
The setting was really great, hiking through a dense forest of chestnut trees.








Once you get past Ggalddak gasping and panting pass, 
you come to a smooth and level trail through the woods, which is a great relief.
How pretty the fall leaves looked, sparkling in the sunlight.
I just wanted to spread out a mat and relax for a while, like a picnic.
 






Here is the sign for Mujangbong Peak - 1.5km
It is around this point that silvergrass starts to appear.






The path is relatively smooth and well-trodden.
It felt like the path just kept going until it reached the sky.
The best feeling when you’re hiking is when you see the path meet the sky.






When I saw the silvergrass, I couldn’t resist the urge to get closer. So I gently edged onto a side path.
This beautiful view unfolded before my eyes.
How pretty the mountains look, covered with fall foliage.
I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t fully capture the scene in these photos. 









I heard the sound of voices from the summit not far away. 
I couldn’t waste any more time down here, could I? 
After taking some shots, I headed towards the summit once again. 






Mujangbong 0.3km – My eyes beheld the silvergrass habitat





As I approached the summit, the sky clouded up a little.









Technically, access was prohibited, 
but many groups of hikers went into the fields of silvergrass to take photos. So did I.





The summit of Mujangbong peak is within reach, right in front of me. 
I gather up my strength once more and head for the top.





At last I reached Mujangbong peak.
They’ve made it easy to see an amazing vista from Mujangbong Peak.
The scenery viewed from the top of Mujang-san is really exceptional. 
Bomun Lake Resort unfolds at your feet, and the East Sea is visible in the distance. 
And the sight of the near-identical mountains of Gyeongju and Pohang
including Tohamsan, Danseoksan, Hamweolsan, and Woonjesan, 
will make you exclaim with admiration.





This is Mujangbong Peak, on Mt. Dongdaebong.
Since it’s not very high, with an altitude of 624m, 
it’s a good spot for hiking with small groups of friends or family.





An observation deck has been built at the top of Mujangbong Peak to provide a panoramic 
view of the fields of silvergrass and surrounding landscape. 




The views from the observation deck were really amazing.




Mujang-san, originally called 624-bong (peak), links Gyeongju’s Tohamsan with 
Pohang’s Woonjesan, where Oeosa temple is nestled. 
The name “Mujang-san” came into widespread use recently. 
The historical records derived from stone pagodas and temple sites, though, 
indicate that locals have used the name Mujang-san since long ago. 
Mujang-san features a hiking course that takes just a few hours, five hours maximum,
 and the trails are not that steep. So, for couples and families, 
I recommend an outing to Mujang-san.
Mujang-san is notable as the shooting location for TV dramas and movies. 
The popular TV drama Queen Seondeok was filmed here on Mujang-san, 
as well as director Je-kyu Kang’s movie ‘Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War.’ 
 






Leaving behind my fleeting moment of joy at the summit, I hastened away.
I took the more gently sloping trail along the ravine on the way down.







The silvergrass habitat at the crest of Mujang-san occupies about 1.5 square km
The broad fields filled with silvergrass were so visually and mentally exhilarating.
They say the summit of Mujang-san did not always have this silvergrass habitat. 
A livestock company had a ranch here from the 1970s until it went out of business in 1996. 
When the ranch closed down, silvergrass started to appear.
This is the gentler, more gradual hiking trail. Its pretty well-trodden, smooth and wide.
 






Since the scenery on the way down was also really great, it was a feast for the eyes. 






It seemed to be quicker going down, especially taking the easy trail. 
It’s 2.1km to Mujangsa temple site. 
 





The path on the way down was pretty good, until I encountered some rocks. 
Still, it was a decent trail at least up to this point. 





I happened to look behind me. I almost missed seeing this nice view! 





At the 2.2km point below Mujangbong Peak there is a restroom.
This is the last restroom on the trail following the ravine.






A short distance further down, GULP ~~ it’s just rocks. This path is also formidable.
I felt like my feet were on fire. (My feet have always been a little weak.)






Even so, the gorgeous scenery is just breathtaking. 
The trees covered with brilliant autumn leaves are even more radiant in the sunlight. 







Do you see the bridge over there?
Once you cross that bridge, 
you can see the three-storied stone pagoda at the Mujangsa temple site.





It’s just 80 meters, not even 100 meters, so I figured I’d check it out. 





The scenery along this wooden deck is really pretty.





Since I didn’t have much time, I skipped the isu and guibu Buddhist monuments, 
and just checked out three-storied stone pagoda. 





Even at first glance, this three-storied pagoda has the unmistakable essence of the Silla dynasty.
Looking at the traces of time gone by gave me an aching feeling. 





According to the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), 
legend holds that after unifying the Three Kingdoms, 
the Silla King Taejong Muyeol buried or hid weapons and helmets in this ravine. 
Today, there are remains of the isu (capstone) and 
guibu (stone pedestal in the form of twin tortoises) which once supported a commemorative 
stone stele describing the Amitabha statue of Mujangsa. 
(The stele itself is now housed elsewhere.) 
These relics were designated as Treasure no. 125. 
The three-storied stone pagoda of Mujangsa (Treasure no. 126) also remains.






Height 4.9m, Treasure no. 126. A granite stone pagoda located at the Mujangsa temple site 
dating from the Unified Silla period (late 9th cent.). 
The stone pagoda had collapsed and was reconstructed in 1962 with additional stone materials.





Although it illustrates the Unified Silla eras typical stone pagoda style 
(a three-storied pagoda body placed on a two-tier foundation),
 it has a distinctive feature of a carved eye pattern on the third tier.





After looking at the stone pagoda at the Mujangsa site, 
I encountered good information here and there on the way down.
I was thinking that this would be a nice place to come with my children. 
On second thought, I guess it would probably be too difficult for our kids to hike all the way
 to the top.
 






After a while, I saw the park entrance area. 
I kind of shook some dirt off my shoes and then crossed the stream. 







Minari (water dropwort) is a renowned local specialty at Mt. Dongdaebong
There are places all over selling minari.
Since I was already hungry even while hiking up the mountain, 
probably because I didnt eat a proper breakfast, 
I had samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) as soon as I finished hiking at a place near the parking lot 
called Yungane Minari Samgyeopsal Jip. All the prices were nearly the same. 
One order of samgyeopsal was 6, 000 won; one bundle of minari was 8, 000 won, 
and half a bundle was 4, 000 won.





When I got there, they happened to be cleaning minari
The fresh, bright green minari looked so pretty.
 Since the place accommodates groups on weekends, it has a very spacious interior. 






This is the minari-jeon (fried pancake) that I ordered first to take the edge off my appetite.
 Just one bite, and my whole mouth was flooded with the fresh taste of minari.
It was even better with spicy hot peppers. 
 





Explaining that they grill minari together with the pork belly, 
the proprietor grilled the meat for me herself. I was completely pleased with the service. 






Samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) being seared to a golden brown. 
And minari (water dropwort). Sizzle, sizzle.





Mmmmm~~ Just looking at this photo, my mouth is watering again. 
And I just ate dinner, too.
 





As autumn deepened into late fall, bedecked with silvergrass and fall foliage, 
I hiked up to Mujangbong Peak on Mt. Dongdaebong and thoroughly enjoyed the season.



Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! You have a great style of writing, and the photos were beautiful. I'm looking to hike this myself over the weekend, and can't wait to see these stunning views myself! Great job!

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