One advantage of living in Korea is that no matter where you are in the country, you’re a three hour max drive away from the sea, and oh, there’s mountains to hike everywhere! Elicia and I are particularly lucky because we live in beautiful coastal city of Yeosu, so we not only can explore the hiking in the immediate Yeosu area but we can also hop on a ferry to one of the many islands near Yeosu to further explore this country’s culture, beauty and hiking trails. We’ve lived in Korea now for a full five months (wow time has flown!) and we have taken many ferries from other cities like Mokpo where we saw Shinan Islands, Oedaldo Island, and Bigeumdo Island. We also took a ferry from Wando to the famous Jeju Island where we climbed the highest peak in Korea, Mt. Hallasan. BUT, up until this last weekend, we had not taken a ferry from our own city of Yeosu to explore the nearby islands that Yeosu has to offer. We are glad to have grabbed a Saturday with new friends to do some hiking/exploring of Geumodo Island, just a short 30 minute ferry ride from Yeosu.
At about 8:00am (after some French-press coffee of course) Elicia and I, along with our friends Brennan and Victoria, hopped in our trusty 1997 Hyundai Avante, now nicknamed Silvia from her stunning silver color, and drove south onto Dolsan Island to a ferry terminal near the southern-most tip of Dolsan. The ferry terminal is called Shin-Gi 신 기 .
Before we landed, I admit that I did little research of Guemodo Island. It’s uncharacteristic of me to land unprepared for our hikes. After all, we’re in a different country so the language barrier can be tough for schedules, directions, transportation, etc. But, things always find a way to work out. I found traces of information on a series of hiking trails, and this island was referred to as a good “hiking island”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but we brought backpacks with food and water and we were prepared to walk around all day and explore.
Upon arriving, we found a map and it showed a series of five trails totaling 18.5 kilometers in length. It’s called the Bireong Trail, and it popped up on a few hiking websites, claiming it is one of the ‘Top 10’ hiking/walking trails in Korea. So it must be good, right? It covered the entire west & south side of the island! It looked enticing, and 99% of the other people on the ferry began on this path, so we also began persuit.
We had arrived on the island slightly before 10:00am, and we quickly found out this would be an incredible day and an amazing hike! The vast majority of this hike was along the coast, offering beautiful views of nearby farm land and mountains merging with the sea with cliffs and beaches, etc. Here’s a few highlights of our day’s shenanigans:
And here’s two little cool critters we found along the trail:
The Bireong Trail has a total of five trails, and we successfully plowed through four of the five! It was a total of 15 kilometers of hiking, and that was plenty for our group of four this fine Saturday. The weather was a bit rainy in the beginning but the clouds disappeared and overall the weather was gorgeous. There were other hikers on the trail, but they were few and far between. It was often just us four, telling stories and laughing while we walked up, down, and around the trails on Guemodo Island. This trail was really well marked with signs like this:
After our long day of hiking, and our enjoyable ferry ride back to Dolsan (just south of Yeosu), we stopped at a local restaurant that serves excellent grilled duck. It was a delicious feast where we rested our legs and filled our starving bellies.
Overall, Guemodo was awesome! I think we’ll go back someday to finish exploring the fifth and final trail and also the little island to the south called Ando Island. We hear there’s a few beaches there worth seeing. Good thing all these amazing places are just a short drive and ferry ride away! We are blessed and fortunate to be where we are, doing what we love, and to have found friends from all over the world also here in Korea who also enjoy exploring the beautiful trails of the Yeosu area with us.