Travel Report: Maisan Mountain (Horse Ear Mountain), South Korea.

Maisan Mountain Horse Ear Mountain South Korea.

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April 2019. Wherever you may be coming from, getting to South Korea’s Maisan Mountain is not a straightforward affair, especially if you’re trying to do it as a day trip. Setting off from the city of Jeonju with my brother Cory and his fiancée Kaley, the first leg of our adventure involved a 25-minute walk to the intercity bus terminal where we caught a one-hour service out to the sleepy town of Jinan. The journey took us deep into the mostly unspoiled countryside of Jeollabuk-do Province and some great views from the window. After a bit of confusion we ended up jumping off the bus a few stops before Jinan and then walking up to Maisan Provincial Park, the gateway to Maisan Mountain.

Tourist village at Maisan Mountain Provincial Park South Korea.
Maisan Provincial Park, South Korea.
Tourist village cafe at Masian Mountain Provincial Park South Korea
Cafe in Maisan Provincial Park, South Korea.

April 2019. It was a solid forty-minute walk from wherever the hell we’d gotten off and at times the going was steep, though we were at least rewarded with ever-improving views of Maisan as we edged closer and closer. Finally we came upon a giant parking lot, a tourist information centre and a pig-themed village where I bypassed all the pork restaurants in favour of some much-needed caffeine. The resulting latte really hit the spot and the woman was super friendly, babbling away in Korean and not at all put off by the fact that we clearly didn’t understand what she was saying.

Visit Maisan Mountain Horse Ear Mountain South Korea.
Maisan Provincial Park, South Korea.
Maisan Mountain Provinical Park South Korea.
Maisan Provincial Park, South Korea.

From the village it was another fifteen minutes on foot to the entrance of Maisan Mountain through some lovely landscaped gardens. We also saw plenty of signs for the park’s other attractions, including Jinan History Museum and… bizarrely… Jinan Scissors Museum. Cory begged and begged us to scrap our mountain plan for a dose of some scissors-related education, but we had to be firm with him. He’s still trying to come to terms with it.

Horse Ear Mountain Maisan Mountain South Korea.
Maisan Mountain (Horse Ear Mountain) from Maisan Provincial Park.
Reservoir at Maisan Provincial Park South Korea.
Maisan Provincial Park, South Korea.

Along the way we crossed the wooden bridge overlooking a giant reservoir. The mountain’s two peaks felt really close now and for the first time I could see the horse ear resemblance that gave the mountain its nickname. In fact, “Mai” means ear in Korean while “San” (yes you’ve guessed it) translates as mountain.

Climbing Maisan Mountain Horse Ear Mountain South Korea.
Maisan Mountain (Horse Ear Mountain), South Korea.

The trail up Maisan Mountain is made up of several gravelly inclines and a couple of monster wooden staircases. One of these is a 600 step rise called The Saddle that had us pausing on at least several occasions to catch our breath, look back at how far we’d progressed and then gaze upwards at the onslaught that awaited. The colors were gorgeous that day and the vibe was peaceful, thanks in no small part to a drumming monk, whose consistent beats echoed through the treetops, encouraging us on our quest.

At the top of The Saddle there’s another almighty staircase to negotiate, though at least this time it’s downhill. Foot traffic got a little busier here, with groups of Korean hikers streaming past us with their walking sticks and North Face jackets. “Hello!” “How are you?!” etc.

Map of Maisan Mountain Horse Ear Mountain South Korea.
Maisan Mountain, South Korea.
Eunsusa Temple Maisan Mountain Horse Ear Mountain South Korea
Eunsusa Temple – Maisan Mountain.

And then we arrived at a large crossroads platform where a variety of hiking trails branched off in several directions. For us it was straight down again for a further staircase to Eunsusa Temple, an ancient buddhist structure located at the foot of one of the horse ears. It had already been quite the day, but actually everything we’d experienced so far had been a mere prelude to the main reason we’d come all this way.

To find out about the next part of our adventure, don’t miss tomorrow’s article on Tapsa Temple.

Like this? Take a look at more of my pieces from around South Korea.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Literature Travel blogger Travel reports short stories.

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Freelance travel writer, voice over and English teacher from London. Former music and film journalist, interviewer of the stars. Passionate about travel, film, music, football, Indian food.

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