About Yongso Falls (yongso pokpo [용소폭포])
Yongso Falls (Yongso Pokpo [용소폭포]) was a modestly-sized 6m tall waterfall nestled within the southern part of Seoraksan National Park in the northeast of South Korea.
In my mind, it felt like this waterfall was more of a side attraction or a waterfaller’s excuse to experience the tall cliffs and rock formations of a towering steep-walled canyon that reminded me of the Shosenkyo Gorge in Japan.
Indeed, the short trail down to this waterfall from the nearest trailhead (a dangerous one because it sits in a blind turn; see directions below) is a mere 500-600m.
It starts off by going down a series of steps to get down to the level of the stream responsible for Yongso Falls, and it’s here that the trail becomes a combination of rock ledges and bridges or planks.
We were just upstream from the brink of the Yongso Waterfall, and when viewed from further down the trail, we could see how water kind of shoots sideways over the lip of its underlying bedrock before making its 6m leap (attesting to the speed of the water).
We still had to go further down the trail before reaching a bridge over the river, where we could get a frontal look right at the Yongoso Falls (which you can see in the photo above).
Now we could just turn back at this point and return to the car park for a short excursion, but the trail so far only gave us a teasing glimpse of what’s in this canyon.
Exploring Beyond Yongso Falls
After having our fill of the frontal views of this falls, we kept going downstream in the canyon over a suspension bridge over more bouldery cascades all towered over by sharply rising bare-rock pinnacles and peaks.
Continuing further along the trail, the canyon kept drawing us in further as we encountered more bare rock formations and cliffs around us.
Eventually after 800m from the nearest trailhead, we arrived at a bridge and trail junction (labeled Geumgangmun according to my Gaia GPS map).
From here, theoretically we could have gone right towards the Sipi (or Sibi) Waterfall or keep to the left and continue further downstream on the same river system.
We intended to take the path on the right towards the Sipi Waterfall until a staffer manning a kiosk in front of the entrance to that part of the trail turned us away.
He didn’t speak English, but all I could understand from our conversation was that it was “too difficult” (perhaps we needed permits or some booking to go that way?) even though the start of the trail looked developed.
As for the other fork in the trail, it would pretty much continue along the river for another 2km or so as we’d ultimately enter the Jujeongol Valley and eventually end up at the Osaek Mineral Springs.
In fact, we noticed quite a few people that did do the entire 3.2km one-way shuttle hike to Osaek Mineral Springs, where they must have had an arrangement to taxi or shuttle back to the original trailhead with the blind turn.
Finally, it’s worth noting that GoogleMaps also has this waterfall labeled as Jujeon Pokpo (주전폭포 or Jujeon Falls) perhaps to distinguish it from other Yongso Falls in South Korea (e.g. one in Gapyeong and another in Jirisan).
For the record, we only hiked down to the trail fork and back, which according to my GPS logs was roughly 800m or so round trip and it took us about an hour mostly because we stopped to take photos a lot.
When we returned to the car park, we encountered giant Korean hiking groups (easily dozens of people), which made the trail feel crowded, and perhaps it was a good thing that we stopped when we did.
So despite the somewhat obscure nature of the Yongso Falls and this canyon (or so I thought), tour bus groups definitely come here.
Yongso Falls resides in Seoraksan National Park in Sokcho-si county of the Gangwon-do Province, South Korea. It is administered by the Korea 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, which lists a phone number that you can call.
Yongso Falls is in Seoraksan National Park near the city of Sokcho.
However, we’ve opted to base ourselves by the resort town of Gangneung since Sokcho tended to be more of a functional fishing port than a place for tourists.
Anyways, 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, I had set up the starting point from the St John’s Hotel in Gangneung with 용소폭포 주차장 as the destination.
Note that in this instance, I actually had to consult the map because there are other Yongso Falls in South Korea like one in Gapyeong as well as another in Jirisan.
This route took us a little over an hour to go the 72km distance.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the car park for the Yongso Falls in Seoraksan National Park can be a bit problematic because it sits on a blind hairpin turn (where lots of people go fast on this road).
Definitely keep that in mind when driving into or out of this car park!
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