About Jikso Falls (jikso pokpo [직소폭포])
Jikso Falls (Jikso Pokpo [직소폭포]) was a 20-30m tall waterfall situated deep in the Byeonsanbando National Park, which itself is part of the Jeonbuk National Geopark in Korea’s West Coast.
The waterfall has multiple drops to it, where its uppermost main tier is 20m tall though the literature tends to say that this waterfall is 30m tall, which I think might be exaggerated if they’re only talking about the main upper tier.
In any case, there are quite a few approaches to experience this waterfall, and each route has pros and cons as well as additional sights along the way.
Some of these sights include interesting rock formations atop mountains, lakes, and temples (e.g. Naesosa, Wolmyeongam, Silsangsa, Cheongnyeonam, and Jijangam).
These different approaches also open the door for one-way shuttle hikes (where the start and end of the hike are not in the same spot) though that would require a bit of coordination.
It was probably a good thing that there were other sights to keep things interesting on this excursion because as you can see in the photo above, this waterfall didn’t do so well during my rainy late June 2023 visit.
Based on this experience, I’d imagine the best shot at seeing this waterfall flowing well would be either the Spring snowmelt (assuming there’s snow accumulation) or later in the Summer when monsoons would have replenished its drainage.
As far as the main ways to reach the Jiksopokpo Waterfall is concerned, the shortest routes are from the Naebyeonsan Parking Lot in the north and the Naeso Parking Lot to the south.
The southern approach from Naeso car park is said to be about 4km in each direction (or 8km round trip), but it has the benefit of allowing you to explore the Naesosa Temple before setting out.
The way I did it during my mid-June 2023 visit was from the Naebyeonsan car park (see directions below), which is said to be 2.4km each way though my GPS logs say it was more like 3.1km each way.
I suspect that the signs only talk about getting to the lookout for the Jikso Falls but it doesn’t include any additional walking to get closer to its various parts.
In any case, it’s this northern approach that I’ll describe, and I’ll go by the distances stated in the signs seen along this trail (instead of going by my GPS logs).
The Hike From Naebyeonsan Car Park
From the large car park area, I pretty much followed a well-developed path past a convenience store and past a restroom facility before getting onto a paved forested path.
After the first 400m, the path forked before a botannical garden, where the path on the right went to the Silsangsa while the path on the left went alongside the botanical garden.
Both paths reconverged roughly 300-400m later after traversing a somewhat open valley surrounded by mountains with exposed granite (some with interesting formations).
At about 700m further (or 1.4km from the car park), the trail reaches a signed junction where the path on the right goes to the Wolmeyongam Hermitage in 2.3km.
On the other hand, the path on the left goes to the Jikso Falls in another 900m or the Naesosa Temple in another 4.5km.
Shortly after keeping to the left, the trail ascends to a lookout of the Jiksobo Reservoir, which is a man-made lake.
Beyond the lookout for the reservoir, the trail then skirts alongside its southwestern banks before descending to the a spur trail where a short detour leads to the Seonnyeotang Pond (roughly 600m from the Jiksobo Lookout).
Past this spur, the trail then climbs and continues for another 300m before reaching the first lookout revealing the Jikso Falls (about 2.4km from the car park).
From this vantage point, I could see that there were multiple drops to this waterfall.
Immediately beneath this lookout, there were steps leading down to a lookout revealing the edge of one of the lower drops of the Jikso Falls (making me think that its cumulative drop should be way more than 30m tall).
Back on the main trail again, it continues for another 50m or so before reaching a fork where a spur trail on the left goes 150m to the bottom where there’s a plunge pool directly fronting the main 20m drop of the Jikso Falls.
This was my turnaround point, but if I was prepared to do a one-way hike and arrange for a shuttle to return to the original trailhead, then I could have continued another 3.6km to get down to the Naesosa Temple.
Overall, my out-and-back hike with all the side detours took me 2.5 hours though I suspect this hike is doable in 1.5-2 hours or so if you’re solely focused on pursuing Jikso Falls.
Jikso Falls resides in Byeonsanbando National Park near the city of Jeonju in the Jeollanam-do Province, South Korea. It may be administered by the Korean National Park Service as well as local authorities. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website for leads.
Jikso Falls lies within Byeonsanbando National Park near the town and county of Buan.
Rather than confuse you with a bunch of turn-by-turn directions that won’t mean anything to you, I’ll just tell you that it’s best to use a Korean routing software on a phone that’s hooked up to a Korean Network (as Google Maps doesn’t work in Korea).
We prefer using a SIM card with an unlimited data plan for this purpose so we shouldn’t be running out of data while routing (while also allowing us to use that phone as a hot spot).
Regardless of what your current location is (and South Korea is as well-connected of a country as I had ever seen), use Kakao Map app to navigate your way through all the city streets, interchanges, and local rural roads.
It even tells you the whereabouts of speed bumps, school zones, speed cameras, and all the particulars about which lane to take when there’s a decision point with multiple lanes involved.
The only catch to using Kakao Map (or any other Korean routing app) is that you’ll need to at least learn how to put your place names in Hangeul (the Korean writing system).
That’s because using romanized words and expecting the app to find it doesn’t always work, but placenames in Hangeul almost always can be found in the app.
Anyways, in our example, we were coming from Suncheon (수락폭포) so with that as our starting point (출발), we set up 변산반도국립공원 내변산주차장 (Byeonsanbando National Naebyeonsan Parking Lot) as the destination (도착).
This route took us about 2.5 hours to go the 154km distance.
If you’re coming from Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을), then Kakao says the 75km driving distance should take about 90 minutes.
For geographical context, Buan was about 48km (an hour drive) west of Jeonju, 83km (about an hour drive) north of Gwangju, 125km (under 2 hours drive) southwest of Daejeon, about 154km (about 2 hours drive) northwest of Suncheon, and 240km (over 3 hours drive) south of Seoul.
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