Hop over a mountainous pass in the middle of the country and join the bike path along Nakdong River, the longest in South Korea. You’ll meander south through Daegu (대구) and into rural farmlands.
The bike path finishes as the Nakdong River spills into the East Sea (동해) at the bottom of Busan (부산), Korea’s second largest city.
The Four Rivers Project established the Cross-Country route in 2012. It created a series of weirs and dams to regulate and revitalize four major rivers in Korea.
The project also created new and bridged local bike paths. This gave cyclists a clear path across the country.
Ara Bicycle Path
The northern start of the cross-country originates in Incheon, Seoul’s sister city to the west. The Ara Bicycle Path (21 km) is the shortest in Korea.
It flies down a narrow canal from the Yellow Sea. The flat jaunt breezes through lively parks and spills into the Han River in Seoul.
Hangang Bicycle Path
The Hangang Bicycle Path (192 km) runs through Seoul and into the middle of Korea.
The certification system breaks the Hangang Bicycle Path in two: the path in Seoul and the Namhangang path beyond.
Through Seoul, the path offers the best views of Korea’s megacity. You’ll pass by the most photographed landmarks, including the National Assembly, Namsan Mountain and Tower, and Lotte Tower.
Just outside of Seoul, you’ll roll into the Namhangang Bicycle Path, the second portion of the Hangang Path. The bike follows Nam (south; 남) Han (한) River (gang; 강) down into the middle of country.
You’ll follow a decommissioned railroad track through tunnels, past King Sejong’s tomb, and onto the toes of a mountain pass.sho
Saejae Bicycle Path
The Saejae Bicycle Path (100 km) presents the most difficult portion of the Cross-Country Route. The name (Saejae; 새재) literally translates to high pass. You’ll understand as you climb two mighty mountain passes.
At the top, you’ll catch terrific views of tiny towns and rural Korea. Don’t forget to stop by a waterfall or hot springs on your way off the mountain.
Nakdonggang Bicycle Path
Korea’s longest cycling road, the Nakdonggang Bicycle Path (324 km), follows South Korea’s longest river, the Nakdong River.
The Nakdonggang Bicycle Path hugs both sides of the wide river. It passes by Daegu (대구), Korea’s third largest city, national parks, an ancient Confucian academy, and futuristic weirs.
After flowing around wide bends, a few tall hills spice up the path, giving spectacular views of the river.
Other than the Saejae Bicycle Path, cyclists can enjoy protected bike paths for most of the journey.
Beware of large cities in peak season. Paths get crowded. Mobs of cyclists and meandering couples equal traffic jams and path rage.
When not on protected paths, the route follows country roads. Long ago, major highways siphoned off traffic. But beware of local bongo trucks and sightseeing SUVs.
Many of the bike paths are multipurpose. Farmers use the bike paths to move farming equipment and access their fields. Big tractor tires sometimes pull clumps of mud onto the asphalt.
Time and Distance
The Cross-Country Route has both the longest (633 km; 393 miles) route and the steepest ascent (539-meter; 1768 ft).
Strong cyclists averaging over 20 km/h (12 mph) over ten hours could complete the course in three to four days.
For a sightseeing pace, (12 km/h; 8 mph), budget six to eight days. You’ll have plenty of time to take breaks, discover delicious food, and capture those selfies.
Your total cycling distance may vary. Often the bike paths flow down both sides of the Han and Nakdong Rivers.