Being dog owners ourselves, we’re constantly looking for dog-friendly hiking options. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite routes around the area to help take some of the guess work out of your weekend adventure in the countryside. As a rule of thumb, Eco-Parks and National Parks are typically NOT dog friendly (there are exceptions as you will see below). Also, please be respectful of other hikers that may not be comfortable around your “large” dog. Keep them leashed when necessary, clean up after them and don’t let them kill any of the wildlife 🙂
1. Jishil Valley Hike (Mountains Behind the House)
We’re just outside the Mudeung National Park boundary so the network of trails in these mountains are both dog-friendly and for the most part, empty! This 6km hike (2ish hours) has it all; it starts in a bamboo forest and ends with an overlook offering great views of Mudeung National Park and Gwangju Lake. More information can be found here.
2. Eco-Park Rice Paddies
Dogs aren’t allowed in the Eco-Park, unless you go after 6pm when the staff and most of the visitors have left for the day (protip: grab a few beers from 7-11 and watch the sunset over the lake!). It gets crowded anyway, so the better option is the rice paddies across the street from our village (behind the Eco-Park parking lot). These service roads offer killer views of the Mudeung National Park and the surrounding mountains and are virtually unused. More photos and information can be found here.
3. Mudeung National Park (Shinseondae)
This back entrance to Mudeung National Park is rarely used; you might not even see another hiker during your 90 minute hike to Shinseondae. Beyond Shinseondae it connects with some of the main/popular hiking trails so with a dog it is not recommended to go much further. Excellent views most of the way up and overall one of my favorite hikes. More information about where to find the trailhead can be found here.
4. Mudeung National Park (Hidden Lake)
This old service road is found on the backside of Gwangju Lake and only used by local rice farmers. The reservoir at the end is a nice treat after the 45 minute hike up (90 if walking from the house). Great for bird watching and/or off-roading too if you have as many eclectic hobbies as myself. Details on how to get there can be found here.
5. Mudeung National Park – Wonhyosa Valley (Swimming Holes)
Definitely the most controversial of all the suggestions. Are dogs allowed? No. But neither is food and drink and I’ve cleaned up enough garbage over the years to know no one is following that rule. Probably not a good idea to go on a Saturday during peak season, but otherwise I’ve never had an issue. If it’s too cold for swimming the trail leading up the valley to Wonhyosa is very nice and has a couple of small scenic waterfalls. Information on how to find the dog-friendly entrance (not the main one with the ranger station!) can be found here and here.
Honorable Mention: Chuwolsan Provincial Park
Not exactly in our neighborhood, but it is a cool park and not too far (about a 35 minute drive). It’s north of “downtown” Damyang so makes for a fun day trip. The Four River Bike Path can be found near Damyang too and that makes for yet another dog-friendly option during your afternoon of exploring. Some basic information can be found here.