Korea’s longest certification bike path follows Korea’s longest waterway.
The Nakdonggang starts east of the Cross-Country Route. It sails west to the end of the Saejae Bike Path, then carries the Cross-Country Route down the Nakdong River to Busan.
Bike Path Overview
Most of the bike path tracks the Nakdong River’s gentle downward slope. However, two obstacles make the Nakdonggang challenging.
- It measures 389 kilometers, the longest certification route. That’s 147 km more than the Gangwon Bike Path, the second longest.
- The route features a handful of steep riverside mountain passes.
The Nakdonggang Bike Path has:
- Two starting points.
- One finish line.
- And several parallel paths on opposite sides of the river.
Let’s break it down.
- Start the Nakdonggang Bike Path at Sangju Sangpung Bridge Certification Center, the final stamp booth on the Saejae Bike Path. Continue south to the Nakdonggang Estuary Bank, the last certification center in Busan City (directions).
- Start at the Andong Dam Certification Center in Andong City. It sits 70 kilometers upriver from the end of the Saejae Bike Path. Cycle west until you meet the Cross-Country Route. Then continue to Busan (directions).
Let’s skim Nakdonggang Bike Path’s five sections.
Andong to Sangju
Start upriver in Andong City (안동시; map), a depository of Korea’s old culture. Follow the Nakdong River west. Riding on a mix of bike paths and country roads, pass historic villages, academies, and pavilions.
Sangju to Gumi
Gumi to Daegu
Daegu to Changnyeong
Off into the countryside.
The fourth leg of the Nakdonggang Bike Path presents the largest challenge. Amongst its high, winding ridgelines above the Nakdong, pass weirs and climb three mountain passes. From on top one summit, view a treasured Confucion academy.
Changnyeong to Busan
The Nakdonggang Bicycle Path crosses two provinces, two metropolitan cities, and 14 cities and counties. Check out these short profiles of each.
- North Gyeongsang Province (경상북도; map) is one half of the old Gyeongsang Province. Its most famous city is Gyeongju. Known as Korea’s open-air museum, it was the capital of the peninsula under the Silla Dynasty (57 BCE ~ 935 CE). It claims countless ancient relics and museums. The largest province by area, the conservative region birthed several famous leaders and scholars, like Yi Hwang (이황; on the ₩1,000 bill).
- Andong City (안동시; map) is the capital and largest city in North Gyeongsang Province. Loaded with heritage, the city features a hanok village, and hosts a traditional Korean mask dance museum and performances.
- Yecheon County (예천군; map) has sat at the foot of the Sobaek Mountains for over a thousand years. A farming community famous for sesame oil, mulberry leaf tea, and apples, the county lost two-thirds of its population since the 60s.
- Sangju City (상주시 (map) was once a key settlement and transit hub during the Three Kingdoms period (57 BCE ~ 668 CE). The city became a bicycle mecca in the early 1900s. Today, each Sangju household owns about two bikes, the highest rate in Korea. The city’s agriculture industry produces rice, persimmons, and silk.
The Nakdonggang Bike Path crawls along the Nakdong River’s gentle slope. But the cycling route presents a challenging collection of hills. Let’s explore the biggest ones.
Andong City Hills
Three kilometers after the first climb, the route rides up a riverside mountain to a 141-meter top (directions).
- Total Climb: a 52-meter ascent over 843 meters with a 6.2% average incline.
Gyeongcheondae Terrace Hill
- Total Climb: a 65-meter ascent over 495 meters with a 13.1% average incline.
Bike Path Types
Korea’s longest certification path, the Nakdonggang Bike Path follows every type of pavement: bike-only paths, farmer access roads, country roads, hiking paths.
Let’s break down the pavement conditions section by section.
Andong to Sangju
The first third of the Andong to Sangju segment switches between bike lanes, farmer roads, and rural streets (directions). The most perilous stretch crosses the entrance to the Andong Hahoe Folk Village (directions; road view).
Sangju to Gumi
Most of the Sangju to Gumi section rides on bicycle-only paths. However, when passing hilly sections, it hops onto narrow, rural roads.
- For 5.6 kilometers, near Gyeongcheondae, follow switchback turns over a hill (road view). Flow onto a road with bike lanes (directions; road view).
- Andong Dam (안동댐 인증센터; map)
- Sangju-bo (상주보 인증센터; map)
- Nakdan-bo (낙단보 인증센터; map)
- Gumi-bo (구미보 인증센터; map)
- Chilgok-bo (칠곡보 인증센터; map)
- Gangjeong Goryeong-bo (강정고령보 인증센터; map)
- Dalseong-bo (달성보 인증센터; map)
- Hapcheon Changnyeong-bo (합천창녕보 인증센터; map)
- Changnyeong Haman-bo (창녕함안보 인증센터; map)
- Yangsan Water Culture Hall (양산물문화관 인증센터; map)
- Nakdonggang Estuary Bank (낙동강하구둑 인증센터; map)
Missed Certification Centers
Trying to complete the Cross-Country Certification? You don’t need the Andong Dam Certification Center stamp. It lies in Andong City (안동시; map), 70.2 kilometers away from the Cross-Country Route (directions).
The Nakdong River
- Length — 510 km (317 mi)
- Basin Area — 23,384 km² (9,029 sq mi)
- Origin — Maebong Mountain (매봉산; map), Gangwon Province (강원도; map)
- End — Korea Strait (대한해협; map)
The Nakdong River (낙동강; map) is South Korea’s longest. It stretches from the Taebaek Mountain Range in the north and flows like an accented “Ć“ through Gyeongsang Provinces in the nation’s southeast. It spills into the Korea Strait in Busan City (부산시; map).
The Nakdong River flows for 510 kilometers (317 mi). That’s the longest in South Korea, but third on the Korean Peninsula. The Yalu River (압록강; Amrok; map) and Tumen River (두만강; map) meander 790 and 521 kilometers, forming the border between North Korea and China.
Most of the streams and rivers in the Gyeongsang Provinces dump into the Nakdong, including the Yeong (영강; map; 78 km), Geumho (금호강; map; 116 km), Miryang (밀양강; map; 102 km), and Nam (남강; map; 186 km). This gives the Nakdong a 23,384 km² (9,029 sq mi) basin area.
Early states grew using the river’s fertile banks, building larger and larger settlements. But the Silla Dynasty, which seized control in 532 CE, was the first to use the Nakdong’s full potential.
Sinnakdong Steel Bridge (신낙동강철교; map) was completed in 1962 and decommissioned in 2009. Gimhae City then transformed the bridge into a rail park. Now tourists can pedal railbikes over the bridge between Miryang and Gimhae Cities just above Busan. Sinnakdong Steel Bridge is one of five bridges clustered along this section of the Nakdong River.
How To Get There
The Nakdonggang Bike Path passes both large cities and rural counties. Only metropolitan cities offer subways. And bike-friendly train stations cluster in a handful of regions. But every district has an intercity bus terminal.
Use these four transportation methods to get you and your bike to the Nakdonggang Bike Path: