By Staff Sgt. Aaron P. DuncanDecember 4, 2012
It is an early Saturday morning in mid-November and the sun is standing low in the sparsely clouded sky. The sun touches the fall leaves highlighting their deep red color and warming the chill morning air. Entire families are hiking to get exercise while spending time with the family and enjoying the quiet serenity present on the wooded path.
"It is one of my favorite places to get away and just experience nature. It lets me get away from any stress I might be experiencing," said Yim, Chong-kwan the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade senior liaison officer affectingly called "Tiger."
The Buraksan Hiking Preserve's list of 221 plants, trees and flowers located along the preserve is a stark contrast to its beginnings alongside a bustling Songtan roadway just before the Songtan Middle School. Although the trail has unlikely beginnings, the path quickly becomes tree lined as it slowly winds through the preserve.
The trail follows the mountain's ridgeline and is considered a relatively easy hike earning only two stars out of five for its difficulty level. Be sure to stick a couple rocks in your pocket to add to the piles already present as you hike along the mountain for good luck.
"Koreans make a pile out of rocks to bring good luck and possibly fulfill a wish," said Pfc. Lee Byoung-kyu, a Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd CAB.
While the unofficial turn around point for most families is approximately two miles in on the Eco Bridge, which overlooks Route 317, you can continue for another two miles until you are forced to make a choice.
The trail will come to a T and you must decide between two destinations. You can turn left to continue on to the village of Un-san, which features the Sambongjip Memorial Hall with free entry and the opportunity to see printing woodblocks. The woodblocks were once a popular method of printing text and patterns on textile, followed by paper, originating in China. If that does not interest you, you can turn right and continue to Do-il-ro highway.
"It is nice all year round and lets you really see the changes in nature as the seasons change" said Tiger.
Also, if your family cannot join you for a day spent hiking, bring your pet. They are allowed to get their exercise right along with you as long as the leash is on.
Another great way of staying fit is mountain biking the trail. The hills will provide the difficulty needed for a good workout while you enjoy the nature scenery provided by the hiking preserve. The leafy canopy naturally provided by the tree tops will provide shade to help keep you cool as you ride. Just watch for the families along the way.
The amenities of the picturesque trail include numerous benches to stop and rest along the way, a rest area offering cold/hot drinks and a restroom, free access to workout equipment and beautiful views overlooking Songtan.
DIRECTIONS: From Pyeongtaek City's Songtan Branch Office, walk about 1,500 feet north up Route 1; the main trail entrance is on your right just before Songtan Middle School. The entrance is marked by a signboard that says in English "Buraksan Guide Map".