What: Cloud Bridge is the nickname given for Gureumdari (구름다리). This brightly colored suspension bridge connects two rocky peaks, and the 52m-long bridge stands an impressive 120m above the ground below. It offers outstanding views of the quaint city of Yeongam and Jeollanamdo Province to the north, and dramatic, rocky peaks of Wolchulsan National Park to the south.
Elicia and I had already visited Wolchulsan as our very first national park experience back in April 2013, so please check out my first post here where we hiked up to Cheongwangbong (809m) and across the ridge all the way to Dogapsa Temple. We saw Cloud Bridge from the other trail we were hiking on, but we didn’t walk on it because it’s on a totally different trail. Cloud Bridge looked really cool from afar (from April 2013):
So for the last year or so, we’ve always had plans on returning to Wolchulsan to see the other trail so we could get up-close and personal with the bridge and walk across it ourselves! About six weeks ago an opportunity arose to visit Cloud Bridge, so we made a stop to check this attraction off our to-do list.
Where: Gureumdari (Cloud Bridge) is located in Wolchulsan National Park, just south of Yeongam – bus to this city if you’re interested in checking this park out. Below is a map of Yeongam’s location relative to Cheonghwangsa Temple (starting point of our hike, both times). You can see Dogapsa Temple’s location on the far western side of the park, and Cloud Bridge is actually pretty darn close to the starting point, making it accessible for most people!
We arrived to the park in the afternoon, so we parked our car, grabbed a few things from a small convenience store, and began walking towards Cheonghwangsa Temple (청황사). Much of the trail in the beginning is a combination of woods and bamboo like this:
We arrived at Cheongwangsa Temple (청황사) pretty quickly and stopped for a few quick pictures:
It was a little overcast and a little cool as it was spring, but still a great day nonetheless.
We then embarked upon the tougher part of the trail – after Cheonghwangsa Temple the trail is pretty rugged and steep, but do-able. “Slow and steady” is our motto… taking breaks if needed, but otherwise just using our energy slowly and consistently to tackle the steps, boulders… whatever the trail throws at us. As we made our way up, there were a few clearings we could stop and and take a look out – we were gaining a lot of ground.
Looking out, the beauty of Jeollanamdo was pretty jaw-dropping. We had made our way several hundred meters up from the start in a very short time… thanks to the steep trail. As we were nearing Cloud Bridge, the good scenery continued.
After about an hour of going up, Cloud Bridge introduced itself to us:
We just had a few more steps to go, but first you must negotiate some huge boulders – on the other side of those railings is a pretty steep cliff!
The approach to Cloud Bridge:
Looking back from where the trail came from, there’s a nice little pagoda tucked in the huge boulders and cliffs – a perfect spot for a rewarding scenic snack time.
Alas, the Cloud Bridge:
The surrounding landscape really makes this Cloud Bridge a great experience. In my opinion, Wolchulsan National Park is one of the rockier parks in South Korea, and the nearby peaks are easily visible from the bridge:
There wasn’t too many people enjoying the bridge at this particular hour in the afternoon. Perhaps maybe they all came in the morning? There were only a couple people stopping by the bridge every so often.
The trail continues up from Cloud Bridge, so we decided to climb the stairs to check out the views from higher up.
Flowers and trees were beginning to bloom:
We particularly liked looking at the bridge from above…
When standing on the bridge, it seemed pretty big. After climbing several steps, the new viewpoint really reinforced how small this man-made bridge is compared to the massive mountains and surrounding landscape.
After a few minutes we hopped back down the stairs to the bridge.
It was getting later in the afternoon and we hadn’t planned on going to the top (again) this time. Feeling accomplished, we went down the steep boulders back to Cheonghwangsa Temple and back to our car. This relatively short hike was very much worth it – seeing the brightly colored bridge within the cathedral-like mountains was pretty surreal. The bridge itself was pretty high up, so walking across was a bit of a rush! It didn’t move around too much at all, so that’s good I guess (unless you’re an adrenaline junkie). If you visit Wolchulsan, I’d highly recommend planning your route through this bridge… I think it’s a must-see within the Korean National Parks!
We’ve visited 11 of the 16 mountainous national parks in South Korea, and I can honestly say that while leaving after hiking in each one, we have a conversation that goes something like, “man, we gotta come back here… and when we do, we should really go see this or that area”. We often hike for one or two days in each park, but admittedly, sometimes that’s just not enough time. Planning a return-trip to some of these parks is essential… the parks are big and there’s so much to see. I’m really thankful we were able to return to Wolchulsan to see Cloud Bridge. John Muir said it best, “The mountains are calling, and I must go”.