Hate learning history? How about experiencing it?
The route crosses ancient fortresses and royal tombs from the Kingdom of Baekje, one of Korea’s three founding dynasties. The bike path ends inside a bird sanctuary on the west coast.
Bike Path Overview
The Geumgang Bicycle path follows the Geum River. It is one of the paths needed to complete the Four River Certification.
The Geumgang Bike Path passes two metropolitan cities, two provinces, five counties, and six cities. Check out these short profiles of each.
- Daejeon Metropolitan City (대전광역시), Korea’s fifth largest, was a small settlement occupying a sweeping field until builders laid a railway through town in 1905. Now a transit hub, the city marks the point where the rail line from Seoul split in two. One heads southwest to Mokpo. The other runs southeast to Busan. Many of Korea’s leading tech companies locate R&D facilities in the metro city, earning Daejeon the nickname “Korea’s Silicon Valley.”
- Sejong City (세종특별자치시), named after Korea’s most important ruler, is the nation’s second capital. Why? Like London and Paris, some Koreans thought Seoul wielded too much influence. (And, it sits in North Korea’s artillery range.) So the government founded Sejong in 2012 by seizing a South Chungcheong Province county, erecting giant government complexes, and moving dozens of national ministries within its borders.
- South Chungcheong Province (충청남도) sits west of North Chungcheong Province along the Yellow Sea. Seoul’s extra long subway tentacles branch into the province’s northern Cheonan and Ansan Cities, the fastest growing districts. During Korea’s Three Kingdoms era, the Kingdom of Baekje (18 BCE ~ 660 ACE) retreated from their capital near present-day Seoul to South Chungcheong Province and flourished for a few centuries.
- Gongju City (공주시), after retreating from Wiryeseong near present-day Seoul, was the Baekje Kingdom’s temporary capital. Along the Geum River, it hosts many historical treasures, like Gongsan Fortress and Baekje Royal Tombs. Sejong City, Korea’s second capital, stole a few acres from the city in 2012.
- Buyeo County (부여군), once known as Sabi Fortress, was the last capital of the Baekje Kingdom until Silla conquered and united the peninsula in 660 ACE. The county’s downtown converted ancient hilltop fortifications into an enormous park, with famous temples, tombs, and a Baekje theme park nearby.
- Nonsan City (논산시) held the last battle between Baekje and Silla forces in 660, leading to the Baekje’s downfall. Today, the city’s farm fields pump out rice, watermelon, and famed strawberries. The city also hosts a KTX station and connections to major expressways.
- North Jeolla Province (전라북도) shares the southwest corner of the peninsula with South Jeolla. Koreans know the region for rich food at cheap prices and the birthplace and keeper of pansori, Korean musical storytelling. The least wealthy province in the nation, the area holds part of the Honam Plains, which has filled the country’s rice bowls since ancient times. Its coast, before reclamation, contained extensive mudflats on the Yellow Sea. Jeonju, the largest city, boasts a famed hanok village, museums, festivals, and bibimbap restaurants.
- Iksan City (익산시), whose downtown lies far from the bike path, is the ancient Honam region’s northernmost district. Once a second capital for the Kingdom of Baekje, today the city is a railroad hub, connecting the Honam Line, which flows from Seoul to Mokpo, with three regional lines.
- Gunsan City (군산시), wedged between the Geum River and Yellow Sea, began as a fishing village. During the Japanese Occupation, the imperial air force commandeered the city’s mudflats and built an airport. After the Korean War, the US Air Force moved in. Today, Gunsan acts as a major port, exporting Honam Plain crops. Gunsan-ites also make a living sea fishing or building cars in a nearby GM factory.
An Extra Stamp
How To Get There
The Geumgang Bike Path begins (or ends) in Daejeon Metropolitan City. Though equipped with subways, intercity bus terminals, and train stations, getting to the start line requires planning and pedaling.
Here are your transportation options to get you and your bicycle to the Geumgang Bike Path:
For most of Korea’s cycling routes, intercity bus terminals are a cyclist’s best points of entry and exit. For the Geumgang Bike Path, that’s true for the finish line. But not for the start.
Only a handful of Korea’s trains allow regular bikes on board. And each designates between 4 to 8 total spots per train.
So why bother? The closest entry point to the start of the Geumgang Bike Path is a train station. Let’s look closer.