Where: Daemisan Mountain (대미산) is located on Dolsan Island, part of the greater Yeosu area tucked away in the southeastern corner of Jeollanamdo Province, South Korea. Back in late April 2014 we moved from our one-year stint in the ‘hustling’ city limits of Yeosu and plopped ourselves out in the Dolsan country-side – – and we haven’t looked back. We love the quietness and location of our breezy 15th floor apartment. Similar to our place we had in Yeosu, there’s mountains all around us which can be explored. When heading south on Dolsan Island, Daemisan Mountain is fairly prominement against the coastal roads:
Daemisan was on my list to explore, and last weekend I had a couple of hours to finally check it out. It’s just a short drive or public bus from Dolsan Bridge, likely about 6km. You’ll want to start your hike at Musulmok Beach (also home of the Maritime & Fisheries Science Museum) since this area is right at the base of the mountain… and the trailhead is also right there.
Elevation: Daemisan is a modest 347m. For me, making an effort to visit all these lesser-known peaks is very much worth it. Their proximity to my apartment makes them all easily accessible here in the Yeosu-area… and also being located right next to the sea, the views are always outstanding. What’s cooler than driving along the coast, parking your car, scrambling up a mountain and looking out to see a gorgeous coastal town, mountains, and islands peppering the misty coastline? I bet (some) people who live inland, away from the coast, would love to catch the ocean breeze and climb up 300+ meters to enjoy coastal views like all these little mountains in Yeosu have. But, if the secret never gets out to the masses… that’s quite ok with me!
Starting at Musulmok Beach (무술목해변) the trail begins just 30 meters south. There’s a sign and trail map next to that main, somewhat-busy road… so you can’t miss it! Since the trail is a mere 1.5km from the bottom to top – I decided to follow the route as outlined below in the map:
So, it’s 1.5km up + exploring on top a bit + 1.1km down for a whopping total of 2.6km on the trails. Afterwards, I walked back on the roads, which was a beautiful walk on the coastal road I frequently go biking on. So, it’s likely a 5.2km hike from start to finish if you follow my steps in the fashion I did it.
Just a couple of steps up from the road, these huge shipping containers were stacked up… I couldn’t hold back my chuckles. I came to know containers like these pretty intimately in my former job – I’d often be filling containers just like these with bicycle products and accessories and ship from Madison, WI to countries all over the world. It seemed wasteful to have these containers just laying around… but perhaps they were configured like this for artistic reasons? Who knows? Anyways, I digress…
The trail entered the woods, and after climbing steps for a short while I was able to look back and peek between the branches to see the coast once again:
Weather? Perfect. Hot and humid, but perfect! Much of the trail followed a similar and repeating pattern: steps steps steps – flat spot for 10 paces. Then steps steps steps. Here happened to be a flat spot, deep in the thicket of the forest:
Nearing the top, the trees kind of cleared out a bit and the trail began to wrap around the mountain just a little bit – exposing beautiful scenery to the left (looking east):
Then came a little surprise. There were some cool caves (probably man-made) right along the trail. This mountain became particularly rocky near the top, and the cave had a pretty big, dark entrance looking like this:
I ducked and entered the cave, trying to use the little flashlight on my phone, but it didn’t help much. After entering, the cave bends to the left and I could see light at the other side – – not knowing what was between me and the light I quickly ran to the other side and peeked in. This cave is maybe 40 feet in length – and pretty neat! While standing in the cave and looking out, the entire coast is visible like this:
After relaxing a short while in the cold, damp cave I contined along the path – from the cave it is just a short 5 minutes to the top. I had heard there was an old fortress on the top of this mountain… and sure enough, the final steps to the very top sent me through the walls of the fortress:
All the brush has taken over much of the trails on top – so I found myself hopping from one loose rock to another, making my way around the fortress walls!
It was pretty fun, minus the unsure footing and steep dropoffs on each side, but nonetheless, it was fun and a pretty entertaining summit.
Standing just 347m above sea levels provides a nice vantage point… eh?
I stayed near this fortress for probably about 20-30 minutes. The sky was blue, the breeze felt great, my spirits were up, and it was a beautiful way to spend the Saturday afternoon.
Next, there seemed to be several little trails and areas to explore near the summit, so I went up and down just about every single path. There was even a little spot with a restroom and plenty of benches in the woods:
One of the little trails lead you maybe 100m over to a different peak called Bonghwadae (봉화대) which ended up being slightly higher at 355m.
As previously mentioned up near the trail map (above) – I eventually headed down the backside of Daemisan Mountain, making the 1.1km in good time (down is always easier than up, right?). On the way down the forest was thick – so much so that even the sunlight was having a hard time coming through:
Near the end I heard the whizzing sound of a car or two on the road, surely I was getting close to the road. Before I got to the road, however, there was a beautiful little valley, filled with a couple houses but mostly dominated by rice paddies. This picture may not do it justice, but hopefully you get the idea how surreal and picturesque this country-side scenery was.
Soon I was back on the road, dodging puddles that had formed from the morning’s shower. I had one eye on the traffic (which is quite minimal down here on Dolsan Island) and one eye out to the coast. Since the road hugs the shoreline, much of the walk back to Musulmok Beach looked similar to this:
And so concluded my little solo-adventure of Daemisan Mountain. To be honest, my pursuit of all these lesser-known mountains in the Yeosu area is not so I can say, “wow – look at all these mountains I’ve climbed guys!” Instead, I go out and explore these mountains to do just that… explore. Yeosu is right on the coast, so all these 12+ mountains we’ve climbed in the immediate areas next to our apartment offer outstanding views of the ocean – and you can see the other peaks nearby, too. I go out to get out – get away from cars and people. Here in Korea, you don’t even need a car to get out and go hiking… just look outside, find a mountain and walk towards it… odds are you’ll find a trail and within minutes, you’ll be ascending a mountain and looking out at the beautiful South Korean terrain.
Each and every mountain I’ve climbed in Korea has left a lasting image/memory from the hike – – What will I remember about Daemisan? Glad you asked! I really enjoyed the cave, fortress on top, and outstanding scenery along the southern coasts of Korea. Even though you won’t find mountains like Daemisan in any guide book anytime soon… every single mountain around Yeosu is guide book worthy in my opinion. With nice trails and scenery like Daemisan had… it’s now officially stored in my little corner of the web… the Klimbing Korean Mountains online guide book (if you will). Cheers!