About Surak Falls (surak pokpo [수락폭포])
Surak Falls (Surak Pokpo [수락폭포]) was a 15m waterfall easily accessible by a short walk near Jirisan National Park.
According to a sign here, this waterfall is said to have therapeutic properties that can help with ailments like neuralgia, muscle pain, postpartum pain, etc.
Heck, it also said that if a woman with an “ugly child” performs a certain ritual, she’ll get another kid (though I suspect something got lost in translation there).
In 2013, this place got some press as some kind of study commissioned by the Jeollanam-do Province proclaimed the Surak Waterfall as a place of healing due to its higher concentrations of negative ions.
From what we could tell, this place is best enjoyed as a spot to cool off from the Summer heat as we noticed quite a bit of access points letting you get into the stream and even up to the waterfall itself.
During our visit, Surak Falls had a somewhat light flow, but I’d imagine as the monsoon season kicks in later in the Summer, the stream will be revitalized and conducive to cooling off again.
According to my GPS logs, the walk from the small village at the start to the base of the falls is about 200m in each direction.
The only catch was that there was one slippery ramp on this path so you definitely have to watch your step.
It was also possible to get to the other side of the stream, where there were picnic spots as well as an alternate lookout.
Overall, our visit only took around 35 minutes (most of it was spent taking photos), which indicates just how accessible this falls was.
Moreover, we didn’t have to pay for our visit (i.e. apparently it’s free), but we did notice that there was a paid parking lot if the parallel parking spots at the village were all taken up (adding a couple of minutes walk to get there).
Finally, I should also mention that there seemed to be other trails that kept climbing, and I’d imagine they go deeper into the mountains of Jirisan National Park, but we didn’t pursue them so I can’t say more.
Surak Falls resides just west of Jirisan National Park by the town of Gurye in the Jeollanam-do Province, South Korea. That said, it’s actually geographically closer to the city of Namwon in the Jeollabuk-do Province. It may be administered by the local authorities of Gurye. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, I didn’t find an official government website, but you can try visiting this website for leads.
Surak Falls lies just west of Jirisan National Park near the town and county of Gurye.
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 Daegu (대구) so with that as our starting point (출발), and we set up 수락폭포주차장 화장실 (Surak Waterfall Parking Lot) as the destination (도착).
This route took us about 2 hours to go the 164km distance.
If you’re coming from Namwon (남원), then Kakao says the 19km driving distance should take less than 30 minutes.
And if you’re coming from Gurye (구례), then Kakao says the 20km driving distance should also take less than 30 minutes.
Finally, we have one bit of warning when pursuing the rural road leading to the Surak Falls.
When you leave the expressway coming from Namwon at the Wonchon-gil exit, there’s a rather confusing 5-way intersection with no traffic lights after going through a short tunnel beneath the expressway.
After making a few mistakes here, we finally figured out that the key is to turn left at this intersection after emerging from the tunnel and then immediately take the first rural road on the right after making that left.
It wasn’t at all obvious that you had to do that despite there being a Surak Falls sign pointing to the left at this intersection.
Once you’re on that rural road, then you can take it the remaining 3km to the Surak Falls, where there’s paid parking on the left before reaching a small village set up for the falls (if the parallel parking spots in that village are all taken).
For geographical context, Gurye was about 31km (30 minutes drive) south of Namwon, 35km (over 30 minutes drive) north of Suncheon, 98km (over an hour drive) west of Jinju, 175km (about 2 hours drive) southwest of Daegu, and 295km (over 3 hours drive) south of Seoul.
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