Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to APSAN Mountain | Top 10 Tipsters

Apsan Park: More than just the Observatory!

When we first arrived to Daegu in July 2017, it was during the daytime. It was by BUS and we entered the city the typical way following the river, noting several interesting bridges, and never losing sight of the mountains surrounding the city like the rims of a BOWL. To my surprise, our drop-off location greeted us with several deep green broccoli-covered peaks within walking distance. I thought, “Sweet! Mountains in my backyard!”

Later that evening into the night, I noticed a brightly lit structure glowing from one of the peaks, and was told it was the Observatory. One week later, I learned from our Korean realtor to refer to these Mountains as Apsan Park and that the locals love it so. One month later, I was also escaping the Summer heat of Daegu by hiking in these Mountains! I have now done all four seasons of hiking, and offer my Top 10 tipsters to getting your feet wet (figuratively…dry feet are better) Hiking in this particular Park.

#1. Hike with a Buddy (or two…or twelve)

If you are going to explore nature, invite friends/co-workers/neighbors/family/fellow Colorful Daegu citizen reporters (and guests) with you. You do NOT have to be a hiking athlete, 100% sure of where you are even going on the Apsan Park trails, or even best friends with whoever you invite…there is just an added dynamic to experiencing the Park when you have more eyes to spot trail markers, slippery areas, wildlife (like chipmunks, pheasants, deer – no snakes or boar yet lol), or even bathrooms! I have yet to hike a trail solo. But CERTAINLY consult your physician before starting any new physical activity!

#2. Get a Map (they are FREE)

Even though there are giant billboard maps strategically located throughout Apsan Park, the map published and provided by the Daegu Metropolitan City Apsan Park Management Office is a game changer.

The colored map that folds out from the back of this mini informational tour book is no different than the park map boards. It’s when you FLIP the map…you find something amazing!

The flipped side of the map contains all the trail numbers you see throughout certain marked trails in Apsan Park!!! Not all the trails are marked, but the MARKED trails give you a solid foundation to learning the park (or a fun goal to collect them all). This is also super helpful in case of emergency. I have never had a problem with cellphone signal anywhere in the Mountains, but my phone has run out of charge! Bringing a Portable Battery Pack would be handy to keep taking pictures and a link to the outside world.

Even though the tour guide portions of the little map booklet are mostly in Hangeul, the English portions share content that inspire me to learn more. Here are some excerpts:
Altitudes of the 3 main hiking Mountains in Apsan Park are Apsan (658 meters), Sanseong (653 meters), and Daedeok (584 meters). Approximately 10 million visitors annually. No park admission!
There are also 10 mineral springs, 571 types of plants, forests of Oak Groves and Nut Pines, the Daedeok Horse Riding course, Gwan Deok Jeong Archery range, Daedeok Culture Hall, Nambu Library, Youth Training Center, many Temples, Art displays & statues, Walk Barefoot experiences, Dinosaur Path, mountain gyms, Wang-gul Cave, and both the Nakdong River Victory Memorial Hall and Memorial Hall honoring those who fought for the Korean nation. See! Plenty more than just the Observatory!!

#3. Ride the Cable Car & Visit the Observatory

The most popular attraction at Apsan Park is riding the Cable Car (round trip tickets 9,500 won for adult/7,500 won for child, and one-way tickets 7,500 won for adult/5,500 won for child sold at both ends). There are groups of 30 or more discounts, and a 20% off Daegu City Tour user discount (same day only) available. The Cable Car operates 10 am – 7 pm this time of year though early morning hiking to catch the SUNRISE and Night Hikes are also a unique opportunity. The Observatory is FREE as it is simply an Observation Deck offering a panoramic view of the city below. Bring a PADLOCK if you desire to commemorate a relationship promise as they do in Romantic Paris, or even at the base of our very own Daegu 83 Tower! Maybe enjoy a quality beverage break at the Cable Car Café located at the bottom?

#4. Dinosaur Path and “Temple Alley”

Located in the Gosangol Valley, the Dinosaur Path is the most popular Apsan Park destination for families with young children. The motion-sensored Dinosaur exhibits both move and roar; there is a sandpit with provided brushes and shovels to uncover a buried dinosaur skeleton; and stroller friendly trail areas here all the way through to “Temple Alley” where 5 different temples are stacked one after the other for your visiting convenience. Buddha’s Birthday brings lanterns and celebration activities.

#5. Pine Cone Forest

Further up the Gosangol Valley, Pine Cone Forest provides a gradual slope for a hobbit-led trek similar to a Lord of the Rings adventure if you are willing to take the scenic route vs the available paved road.

#6. Stairway to Heaven

Located in the same valley as the Cable Car entrance, you may pick between 3 different paths going UP eventually leading to the same ascent of stairs challenging your physical endurance and desire for victory despite the ever-increasing burning in the LEGS!!

#7. Toilets, Mountain Gyms, and more Randomness

There ARE toilet facilities throughout Apsan Park, but they will not always be where you might need them…so utilize them when you do come across them. It might also be wise to bring your own set of tissue papers and hand sanitizer on every hike. Typical: No Trash Cans. Mountain gyms are a spaced throughout the park and are rarely not being utilized by SOMEONE for serious or for fun! Go ahead, give the giant hula hoops a spin! Pressurized Air is for when you EXIT the park so dust/soil/debris don’t track into your car or home. LOOK WHAT I FOUND ON A RANDOM UNMARKED TRAIL: Colorful Daegu Arch!

#8. Rope Trails

Back over at Golango Valley, a regular hiker will feel extra challenged gaining access to harder-to-reach lookouts with the assistance of ropes anchored into the stoneface. The first rope builds confidence!

Rope 1
The second rope seems a little easier.
Rope 2

The third rope has you questioning your hiking guide’s sanity.
By the fourth rope, you are completely over the Indiana Jones novelty of it all. But honestly, this rope wasn’t even HERE last year. Trust me, the rope is totally a SAFETY WIN. Another reason to bring a buddy.

Rope 3(left) and Rope 4(right)

I like to refer to the rope as a stable third point of contact so you can proceed up the rockface with sure footing, and a better balanced center of gravity. It doesn’t require tremendous arm strength, but gloves might be helpful when climbing the ropes or using any of the installed metal railings.


#9. Take the Pictures.

Nothing inspires others to DREAM BIG than a PINTEREST worthy happy snap of your accomplishments.


#10. Celebrate your Victories!
Whatever trail you decided to check out, know that getting out into nature truly nourishes a parched spirit! Green is good! Quiet is VERY good! Everyone should fit in an occasional break from car horns and city construction noises in my opinion.
And speaking of nourish…treat yourself to a fine lunch and a tasty beverage afterwards for sure! Totally celebrate your Fitbit step count and hundreds of calories burned!! It REALLY is the best part of the hike when the muscles are sore and the endorphins are soaring!

There are many more Tipsters for both Apsan Park and Hiking in General, but these should get you curious and confident enough to consult your physician, invest in some quality hiking boots, Messenger a friend, and check it all out for yourself! Be safe, and Happy Hiking!