Yeoju City logo

Bike Yeoju to Chungju

Chungju City logo
Cycle from ancient Yeoju City to the toes of the Sobaek Mountains in the center of Korea.

This section of the Hangang Bike Path crosses one more weir before touring river islands filled with migratory birds. At the end of the route, pass by two historic parks with ancient treasures.

GeoTag

Ride Yeoju to Chungju forms the third and last leg of the Hangang Bike Path.

Seoul’s North Side and South Side traversed the first portion. Ride Seoul to Yeoju tackled the second leg.

This is part of the Cross-Country Route, which travels from Incheon to Busan.

Let’s begin where we left off.

Quick Stats
Yeoju Chungju Distance City Names
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Directions
Google Maps Logo
Google Maps

Yeoju City to Gangcheon Weir

Pedal along the South Han River out of downtown Yeoju City (여주시), passing a clifftop pavilion with a view of ancient sailboats and a waterside temple. End at the last South Han weir.

Directions (5.7 km)

From downtown Yeoju, cycle by the river and up a boardwalk ramp (road view) below Yeoju Bridge (여주대교).

Land street-side and wheel around Yeongwolru Neighborhood Park (영월루근린공원).

Inside this patch of green, find the clifftop Yeongwolru Pavilion. Climb up this resting spot and grab a view of bobbing Hwangpo Sailboats and Silleuksa Temple perched across the river.

Yeoju’s Historic Sites

Though small, Yeoju holds a wealth of ancient landmarks and relics near its downtown. Let’s glance at a few.

Yeongwolru Pavilion

117.9 km (Hangang Bike Path)
61.4%

Yeongwolru Pavilion (영월루), one of Yeoju’s eight scenic sites, was a traditional gate. However, in 1925, Yeoju’s governor rebuilt the gate as a pavilion.

Why? Yeongwolru sits on a rocky cliff overlooking the South Han River and Silleuksa Temple. This open-deck pavilion offers an unbeatable view.

Silleuksa Temple

Silleuksa Temple (신륵사) was first constructed during the Silla Dynasty (신라; 57 BCE ~ 935 CE). Its most famous artifact, a six-tiered pagoda built of bricks, earned Silleuksa the nickname “Wall Temple.”

Another notable feature of Silleuksa: it sits on the South Han River. Most Korean Buddhists built temples in the elevated solitude of mountains.

Hwangpo Sailboats

Glance into the South Han from the banks of downtown Yeoju and you’ll spot a handful of Hwangpo Sailboats (황포돛배).

These wooden vessels with orange colored sails navigated Korea’s rivers throughout the Joseon Dynasty (조선; 1392~1897). They carried rice from Yeoju’s bountiful farms down to Hanseong, the Joseon capital and today’s Seoul.

Yeoju’s recreated Hwangpo boats now carry tourists for short cruises along the South Han.

The Royal Tombs

Just west of downtown Yeoju sits the graves of King Sejong and King Hyojong (영녕릉), two Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Why are the tombs in Yeoju? Didn’t Joseon kings rule from Seoul? Yes. And King Sejong’s tomb originally lay in the capital. However, in 1469, the royal family moved the grave of Sejong the Great, Korea’s most venerated ancient leader, to his birthplace, Yeoju.

Empress Myeongseong Birthplace

The Birth Home of Empress Myeongseong (명성황후생가) rests near the tombs of King Sejong and Hyojong.

In the late 1800s, Empress Myeongseong advocated for Korea’s sovereignty as Japan sought to occupy the peninsula. Her assassination inspired national pride and resistance.

The site holds a memorial hall, sculpture park, and the empress’s birth home, which was constructed in 1687 for her aristocratic family.

Descend the sidewalks along Yeongwolru Neighborhood Park and veer left back onto riverside cycling path (road view).

Leap a footbridge into Gold and Silver Sand Riverside Park (금은모래강변공원), which occupies a large river island separated by a slim stream (road view).

This park claims to be one of Korea’s largest eco parks. In additional to campgrounds, a phone museum (폰박물관), restaurants and cafes, the park contains the Hwangpo Sailboat Cruise’s (황포돛배) boarding dock.

Cycle onward. Wind around a river bend, under Iho Bridge (이호대교), and roll upon Gangcheon Weir (강천보), the final watergate and 5th Scenic View of the South Han River.

Before you ride the bridge over Gangcheon Weir, make a pit stop at the Hangang [Han River] Cultural Center on the river’s west banks. Below its two swooping awnings and 39-meter-tall observation tower, find:

  • 1st floor exhibition hall displaying local art and history.
  • 1st floor elevator leading to the observation tower’s viewing deck.
  • 3rd floor cafe with open-air patio.
  • Outdoor sculpture park, wading pool, and performance spaces.
  • A place to buy and certify your Bike Passport.

“A place to buy and certify your bike passport?” So, there’s a stamp booth nearby. 

Yup (road view)!

강천보
인증센터
126 km (78 mi) from start
Google Maps Logo
Google
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Kakao
Gangcheon-bo​ certification center checkpoint stamp for Korea's Bicycle Certification system.

Gangcheon Weir to Binae Island

Ride past a pair of river islands, a panoramic view of merging rivers, and over a low mountain pass.

Directions (30.7 km)

Cross Gangcheon Weir to the South Han’s east banks and clamber down a ramp and stairs to the watergate’s fish ladder.

Chug five kilometers upriver and arrive at Gangcheon Island, South Han River’s 6th Scenic View.

Want to visit Gangcheon Island? Hop a wide bridge onto the river isle. Mill around its dirt paths (road view) lined with ginkgo trees and endangered Korean wormwood flowers.

129 km (Hangang Bike Path)
67.2%

Gangcheon Island (강천섬), formed by thousands of years of sediment build-up, holds fast in the South Han’s waters at the bottom of Yeoju City.

This 571,000-square-meter land mass lived under the river’s surface until Gangcheon Weir, five kilometers upriver, lowered the water level on this section of the South Han, revealing the Gangcheon Island to the world.

A riverside hill just past Gangcheon Island forces the bike path onto rural roads. Ride inland for 2 kilometers and turn right onto Seom River Road (섬강로; road view). 

Shift into a climbing gear and ascend the 52-meter tall Changnam Pass (창남이고개).

Sail down into the outer edges of Gangwon Province’s Wongju City (원주시).

Cross Seom River Bridge (섬강교) and find a 179-degree switchback turn (road view). It leads down to the Seom River (섬강).

Roll to the river’s edge and slam into a three-way junction (road view). Here’re your options:

Turn left. The Seom River Bike Path isn’t a certification route.

Ride south for 1.5 kilometers until the Seom River spills into the South Han River.

Stop! Peep the panorama (road view).

From the west, the wide South Han jackknifes, merging with the south flowing Seom. Above rises a rock-faced cliff: a toe from Ja Mountain (자산; 246 m).

Pedal onwards. Two kilometers down-path, arrive at the South Han River Bridge (남한강대교).

Traffic thin? Pause on the bridge and view the vista (road view). The South Han slushes south, lapping against green and brown riverbanks. Puffy verdant hills float above.

Be careful! South Han River Bridge doesn’t sport bike lanes. So ride with the metal beasts.

As you land back on dry ground, say goodbye to Gangwon Province and an-nyeong (안녕; “hi”) to North Chungcheong Province’s Chungju City.

Chungju City (충주시; Chungju-si) sits on the edge of the Sobaek Mountain Range (소백산맥) in North Chungcheong Province (충청북도; Chungcheongbukdo).

At one time, Chungju and Cheongju (청주시; Cheongju-si) held equal clout in North Chungcheong Province. In fact, the province’s name comes from both these cities’ names: Chungju + Cheongju = ChungCheong.

During the Kingdom of Silla (신라; 57 BCE ~ 935 ACE), King Wonseong (원성왕) declared Chungju the center of the united Korea peninsula. Let’s explore this middle city.

Beyond the South Han Bridge, ride 5 kilometers straight, flat, fast bike path. A blanket of leafy marsh — a holding pen for when floodwaters arrive — smears your periphery.

At the end of this section, hop a few meters up a snaking country road (road view). Keep an eye out for the occasional car as you meander 11 kilometers to Binae Island (directions).

153.7 km (Hangang Bike Path)
80.1%

Binae Island (비내섬), or Binaeseom, clings to the bottom banks of the South Han River. Pampas grass, which bloom wind-swaying silver tufted tops in fall, fills the 990,000-square-meter plot. 

Other than dirt trails and props left by Korean movie and TV productions, Binae remains unadorned by human decor.

Korean TV series and movies used the isle’s pastoral backdrop, evidenced by the movie post signs adorning the mainland parking lot and props on the island left by wrapped productions (road view).

Before you continue down the Hangang Bike Path or go on an island tour, find a red stamp booth near the wide concrete bridge leading to the Binae Island (road view).

비내섬
인증센터
154 km (95.5 mi) from start
Google Maps Logo
Google
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Kakao
Binaeseom certification center checkpoint stamp for Korea's Bicycle Certification system.

Binae Island to the Nameless Weir 

Explore a short route between river islands, totem poles, and a forgotten port. 

Directions (14.6 km)

From Binae Island, follow the rural road inland and 56 meters up the low side of Songi Mountain (송이산).

At the bottom of the mountain, roll past Neungam Hot Springs (능암온천). Here you can drink and bathe in mineral water sprung from under nearby mountains.

Just past the hot springs, spot a turnoff onto a farm access road (road view). Turn onto it and follow blue bike signs (road view) through a maze of crop fields and streets (directions).

Shoot back to the river and find Neungam Village Island nestled at the mouth Hanpo Stream (한포천). Pause and gaze out at this 7th Scenic View of the South Han.

159.7 km (Hangang Bike Path)
83.2%

Less known than Binae and Gangcheon, Neungam Village Island (능암리섬; Neungam-riseom), keeps its 200-meter-long span free from human infrastructure. In fact, only a stepping stone bridge allows bipedal disposable-cup-clutchers access to the river island (road view).

Bird watchers and photographers visit Neungam Village Island for its migratory birds, which include mandarin ducks, whooper swans, buzzards, and long-billed plovers.

Cycle to a street bridge, hop Hanpo Stream (road view), then veer back onto the cycling path.

Stumble upon a dozen jangseung poles (장승) pathside (road view). Resembling Native North Americans’ totem poles, these two-meter-tall wooden pillars with carved faces mark the villages’ outer borders and protect them from evil spirits.

Pedal 4 kilometers around a stout riverbend, then look to the river banks and view Mokgye Pine Forest (목계솔밭). In its borders find a massive campground for tents and RVs, and a nursery for pine trees, some passing their 200th birthday.

Mokgye Port (목계나루) once lived across the river from the pine forest. It was one of the five major inland ports along the South Han River during the Joseon Dynasty (대조선국1392~1897). Until the railway came to town in the 1930s, the port acted as an economic hub for Chungju, collecting and sailing salt and rice downstream.

Pedal under stilt-walking rail and highway bridges amongst an expanse of wildflower and crop fields (road view). In the hills above rests the remnants of Jangmi Mountain Fortress (장미산성). 

Beware! Though bike decals decorate the pavement, dirt-clump-dropping tractors also haunt these paths.

Cycle by a roadside rest stop serving hearty stews and endless side dishes (road view) and arrive at a weir with no name (road view). A Nameless Weir.

Pedal 4 kilometers around a stout riverbend, then look to the river banks and view Mokgye Pine Forest (목계솔밭). In its borders find a massive campground for tents and RVs, and a nursery for pine trees, some passing their 200th birthday.

Mokgye Port (목계나루) once lived across the river from the pine forest. It was one of the five major inland ports along the South Han River during the Joseon Dynasty (대조선국1392~1897). Until the railway came to town in the 1930s, the port acted as an economic hub for Chungju, collecting and sailing salt and rice downstream.

Pedal under stilt-walking rail and highway bridges amongst an expanse of wildflower and crop fields (road view). In the hills above rests the remnants of Jangmi Mountain Fortress (장미산성). 

Beware! Though bike decals decorate the pavement, dirt-clump-dropping tractors also haunt these paths.

Cycle by a roadside rest stop serving hearty stews and endless side dishes (road view) and arrive at a weir with no name (road view). A Nameless Weir.

The Cross-Country Split 

The Nameless Weir (map; road view), just north of downtown Chungju City, presents two routes near the end of the Hangang Bike Path. Here are your options:

  • Cross the Nameless Weir to complete the Hangang Bike Path.
  • Don’t cross the Nameless Weir to continue on the Cross-Country Route.

Let’s explore the nuances.

Chungju Dam Certification Center (충주댐인증센터) is the final stamp on the Hangang Bike Path. However, because it doesn’t connect with the Saejae Bicycle Path, the next leg of the Cross-Country Route, you’ll need to travel about 16 extra kilometers to collect it. 

You do not need the Chungju Dam stamp to complete the Cross-Country Certification. However, you will need it for the Hangang Bike Path and Grand Slam Certifications.

Crossing the Nameless Weir, which is technically the “official Hangang path,” brings you 3 kilometers closer to the Chungju Dam. It sails along the northern edge of downtown Chungju.

Not crossing the Nameless Weir cuts 5 kilometers off your Cross-Country journey. It also passes Jungangtap Park, a highlight, and concludes in Tangeumdae Park on the northwest corner of downtown Chungju.

Beside Tangeumdae Park, find the Chungju Tangeumdae Certification Center (충주탄금대인증센터). It is the first stamp along the Saejae Bike Path, the next phase of the Cross-Country Route.

Note! Both routes lead to the same place: downtown Chungju. So, if you’d like to check out Jungangtap Park and collect the Chungju Dam stamp, don’t cross the Nameless Weir. A cycling path leading to Chungju Dam lies outside of Tangeumdae Park.

Now let’s explore each route.

Nameless Weir to Chungju Dam

Cycle the croaking riverside and spot a glowing bridge on your way to Chungju Dam.

  • Tangeum “Big” Bridge
  • Chungju Dam
  • Chungju World Martial Arts Park
  • Tangeumdae Park
One-Way Directions
(18.9 km)
Return Directions
(28.7 km)

Going after the Hangang and Grand Slam Certifications? Steer across the Nameless Weir (map) and land on the east banks of the South Han.

Roll along a country road and up a 30-meter hill.

On your right hides the Imperial Lake Country Club (임페리얼레이크). On your left looms an undisclosed forest guarded by barbed wire. Listen closely for a hair dryer on overdrive, followed by a chest rattling whoosh! Afterburners cresting over the treetops. (You didn’t see that.) 

At the bottom of the hill, hop onto a riverside bike path (road view). Pedal amongst croaking frogs and hushed fishers, casting lines into lapping waters.

Stop at the bottom of a teardrop bend in the river. Watch the South Han River bend north as it meets the Dal Stream (달천; Dalcheon), which flows down from the Sobaek Mountains beyond (road view).

Across these waters, find Tangeum “Big” Bridge (탄금대교). At night, LEDs embedded in the bridge’s looping overhang shimmer color on the waves below.

Left of Tangeumdae Bridge, on the northwest corner of downtown Chungju, perches Tangeumdae ParkMore on that later.

Wheel around the river bend, cross Mokhaeng Bridge (목행교) towards downtown Chungju, and land in a riverside park.

Continue along the South Han, under bridges and by rec fields and grassy water flora.

The last 1.4 kilometers jumps onto a two-lane road with a gentle upward slope and an un-rideable shoulder (road view).

Halt! On the corner of a convenience store’s parking lot, meet Chungju Dam Certification Center (충주댐인증센터), the proper end of the Hangang Bike Path (road view).

Remember. You need this last stamp to complete the Hangang Bicycle Path and the Grand Slam Certifications. But it’s not required for the Cross-Country Certification.

충주댐
인증센터
192 km (119 mi) from start
Google Maps Logo
Google
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Kakao
Chungju Dam​ certification center checkpoint stamp for Korea's Bicycle Certification system.

Chungju Dam

192 km (Hangang Bike Path)
100%

Wait a second! Where’s the dam?

From the certification center, Chungju Dam (충주댐) lies 1.6 kilometers up the South Han River.

However, it’s a tad difficult to get a good look at the dam from the river’s bottom banks. Trees and embankments obscure your view. Chungju Dam also once boasted an observatory on its south end. But it’s now closed to the public (road view).

You’re itching for a peek? Cross a bridge near the certification center. Ride 750 meters upstream and find a wooden lookout deck (directions; road view).

Built in 1985, Chungju Dam rises 97.5 meters, measures 447 meters long, and retains 2.75 billion tons of the wet stuff, making it Korea’s largest gravity dam. Its two 6,000 kW turbines pump out 79.5 million kWh of electric nectar annually.

Upon its completion, Chungju Dam created Chungju Lake (충주호) behind it. At 67.5 square kilometers, it’s the largest artificial body of water in the nation, touching Danyang County, Chungju and Jecheon Cities, and Worak Mountain National Park. Around and on Chungju Lake, find hiking paths, water sports, and a cruise.

The Return

I stamped my passport and snapped my dam photos. What now?

You could cycle past the dam and explore Chungju Lake. But it ain’t an official cycling path.

If you want to continue on the Cross-Country Route, head back whence you came (directions; 9.8 km).

Crawl on the south side of the South Han River towards Mokhaeng Bridge (목행교), where you crossed earlier. This time, don’t cross.

Cycle 3.7 kilometers along the bottom of the South Han River and end between Tangeumdae Park (more later) and Chungju World Martial Arts Park (충주세계무술공원).

Each year, Chungju World Martial Arts holds the Chungju Martial Arts Festival (충주세계무술축제). This international event celebrates Chungju as the birthplace of Taekkyeon (태껸), a Korean martial art designated by UNESCO as an “intangible heritage.” Inside the park, find a museum, training facilities, and performance stages.

So what now?

Find the Chungju Tangeumdae Certification Center on the walking path between Tangeumdae and Chungju Martial Arts Parks (road view). This is the first stamp on the Saejae Bike Path, the next leg of the Cross-Country Route.

Step inside. Mark your bike passport. Ready yourself for the Saejae’s mountain passes.

Nameless Weir to Tangeumdae Park

Tour of a rowing stadium, rainbow bridge, and the ancient tower marking Korea’s bullseye.

Directions (11.1 km)

So you don’t need the Chungju Dam stamp? You’re just going for the Cross-Country Certification?

Don’t cross the Nameless Weir (map). Stick to the west side of the South Han River.

Wind along a protected path beside a country road (road view). Drop onto farm paths and shoot over a bridge (road view) onto a riverside stretch filled with coffee shops (road view).

Ride 1.5 kilometers, then turn left down an access road (road view) and ride to the river. Find yourself amidst the Tangeum Lake International Rowing Regatta (탄금호 국제조정경기장), which offers a stadium, boathouse, and rowing academy.

One of a few Korean facilities certified to hold international competitions, the regatta held several rowing events on the waters of Tangeum Lake. 

Tangeum Lake? Where’s the lake? Locals also refer to this wide section of the South Han River as Tangeum Lake (탄금호).

Pedal down the riverside (uh, lakeside) and pass the regatta’s open-air stadium (road view). Two minutes late, the path hops onto Rainbow Bridge (무지개다리), a 1.5 kilometer pontoon bridge hugging the river banks. Nightly, LEDs lay stripes of colors across its deck.

Stop! Before you roll onto Mario Kart Lane, glance to your right. Find a fourteen-meter tall, millennium-and-a-half-old pagoda, the central monument in Jungangtap Park.

171.8 km (Hangang Bike Path)
96.3%

Jungangtap Park (중앙탑공원; “Central Tower Park”) holds Korea’s tallest Silla-era pagoda: the Seven-Story Stone Pagoda in Tappyeongri, a.k.a. Jungangtap (중앙탑), a.k.a. “Central Tower.”

Why the name “central tower?”

The Kingdom of Silla (신라; 57 BCE ~ 935 ACE) was the first to unified the Korean peninsula. To mark the exact center of its territory, it erected Jungangtap in the 500s.

Jungangtap Park also includes:

Cycle to the end of Rainbow Bridge, hop ashore and roll onto a riverside road with a dedicated bike lane (road view).

As you approach downtown Chungju, pass small settlements and hill holding a waterside rock-carve Buddha (중원창동마애불; road view).

Flow under the tall Ureuk Bridge (우륵대교), then Tangeum “Big” Bridge (탄금대교), and onto Tangeum “Small” Bridge (탄금교).

Pause on Tangeum “Small” Bridge. Admire the looping supports over the parallel Tangeum “Big” Bridge (road view). At night, lights embedded in the bridge’s supports emit a chromatic shimmer on the river’s waters.

Below the bridge, watch the Dal Stream (달천) rush under you and flow into the South Han.

At the end of Tangeum “Small” Bridge, veer right onto a streamside bike path (road view). After greenhouses, take a left onto a sidestreet (road view) and ride to a major intersection.

Over the zooming cars rises Tangeumdae Park, the 8th and final Scenic View.

178.4 km (Hangang Bike Path)
100%

Tangeumdae Park (탄금대) covers Daemun Mountain (대문산; 107-meter peak) on the northwest bank of downtown Chungju, where the South Han River and Dal Stream (달천; Dalcheon) meet.

The park’s grounds gained fame for two historical events.

  1. Ureuk (우륵), a famed musician around 500s, once sat upon the park’s boulders and strummed his gayageum (가야금).
  2. The Korean General Sin Rip commanded his troops here during the Battle of Chungju (June 7, 1592). He fired his arrows at invading Japanese troops from the park’s cliffs.

Cross the city streets to Tangeumdae and slide down a path between it and Chungju World Martial Arts Park

Nestled near banks of the South Han lies the Chungju Tangeumdae Certification Center, the first stamp on the Saejae Bike Path.

Head inside, stamp your bike passport (pages 16 & 19), then continue on the Cross-Country Route’s next phase or head into downtown Chungju for some za and ZZZs.

충주탄금대
인증센터
0 km (0 mi) from start
Google Maps Logo
Google
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Kakao
Sinmae Bridge certification center checkpoint stamp for Korea's Bicycle Certification system.

Wait!

Still have gas left in the tank. From the Tangeumdae stamp booth (road view), head up the South Han River for 9.8 kilometers and arrive at the Chungju Dam Certification Center (directions). Remember, the bike path dead-ends, so double your total distance to 19.6 kilometers.

Tired? Don’t blame you. You don’t need it for the Cross-Country Certification.