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Highlights

Nakdonggang Bike Path

The Nakdong Bicycle Path is the longest certification path in Korea. Along its course, find natural wonders, ancient and modern highlights, and eight Four Rivers Project weirs, the most along any bike path.

Woryeong Bridge (월영교) or Woryeonggyo spans the Nakdong River a kilometer downstream from Andong Dam.

Measuring 387 meters long and 3.6 meters wide, Woryeong is Korea’s longest wooden bridge. Though the arch trestles under its deck look ancient, builders completed Woryeong in 2003. You can see modernity in the bridge’s concrete pillar base and hand railing.

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Woryeong’s name comes from the Woryeong Observatory, an ancient stargazing tower like the famed Cheomseongdae. Andong Dam flooded and destroyed it in 1976.

The walking bridge connects Woryeong Park (월영공원), which hosts the Andong Dam Certification Center, the Nakdonggang Bike Path’s start line, with the walking paths and pavilions surrounding the Andong Folk Village (안동민속촌). 

Along its span, strollers can rest under the octagonal Woryeong Pavilion or gaze out from two piers jutting from the walkway.

Fountain jets and multi-colored LEDs light up the bridge at night. In the morning, mist rises from the Nakdong River, shrouding the bridge in painterly magic.

Andong Hahoe Folk Village (안동하회마을) sits 20 kilometers west of downtown Andong City. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and visited by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 and George W. Bush in 2005, the village offers glimpses of Joseon-era architecture.

This 600-year-old settlement rests at the bottom of a bend in the Nakdong River. It’s name, “Hahoe” (하회), translates to, “river that flows around.” Surrounding spread sandy beaches, mountains, and Buyongdae Cliff (부용대), which offers a bird view of the village.

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Andong Hahoe’s layout includes 11 culturally significant and protected buildings and follows Feng Shui principles. The main hall sits in the center of town. Thatched roofed houses emanate outward, and two Confucian schools lie west and east of the village.

The village was home for the Ryu Family, which birthed a famous Joseon scholar and councilor. Today, most of the village’s 290 residents trace their lineage back to this clan.

Andong Hahoe also created, preserves, and performs one of Korea’s oldest mask dances, the Byeolsingut

Entrance isn’t free, however. At the top of a road into the village find an entry gate, the Hahoe Mask Museum, and restaurants serving Heotjesatbap (a variation on bibimbap), jjimdak (glass noodles and chicken), and salted mackerel.

Just east of downtown Sangju City (상주시) along the Nakdong River hangs Gyeongcheondae Terrace (경천대). It once held the name “Jacheondae” or “scenery created by the heavens.”

Crowned by a rock-faced cliff with an unparalleled high-angle view of the Nakdong, this famous park offers hiking trails through thick pine forests and by pavilions, a suspension bridge, and camping grounds.

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Since Joseon Dynasty times, scholars, poets, and generals have visited this natural cliffside. Here, they relaxed, contemplated, and stumbled upon dragon horses.

What?

Legend has it, legendary General Jeong Gi-ryong spotted a dragon horse living beneath Gyeongcheondae’s cliffs. So he dressed as a scarecrow and waited near the Nakdong River, where the beast often drank. Curious, the horse drew close. Brave, the General hopped on.

It’s said that General Jeong rode this ferocious animal into battle against the invading Japanese during the Imjin Wars (1592~1598).

Find a statue of General Jeong riding the ferocious horse near the artificial waterfalls.

The Sangju Bicycle Museum (상주자전거박물관) nestles along the Nakdong River just below Gyeongcheondae Terrace in Sangju City.

Built in 2002, it’s the only museum in the nation dedicated to bikes. It costs ₩1,000 a pop and opens 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Inside, find pedal powered contraptions of all shapes, sizes, and eras.

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The museum’s courtyard presents an assortment of bicycle inspired sculptures. Folks can borrow for free bikes and mill around the expansive patio.

Why a bike museum in Sangju?

In days past, Sangju was a regional hub. Its location on the Nakdong River and fertile farm fields produced disposable income for its citizens.

So when bicycles came to town in 1919, Sangju-ites bought them like hotcakes. Like cars later in the 20th century, they represented status and progress.

Sangju produced several famous cyclists, including Park Sang-heon. He won national racing competitions in Seoul, Daejeon, China, and Sangju’s own Joseon Paldo National Cycling Competition, which was held from 1925 to 1940.

Bicycles still dominate the city, averaging two per household, the most per capita in Korea. Almost 30% of Sangju residents commute by bike every day.

Sangju Weir (상주보; Sangju-bo) is the first of eight Nakdong River weirs built by the Four Rivers Restoration Project (2009~2011).

The watergate consists of 230 meters of fixed and 105 meters of movable beams. They regulate river flow, trapping water for farmers during droughts, and releasing it during downpours. Two hydroelectric power plants send 15.9 GWh per year to nearby homes.

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Sangju Weir’s design represents the local legend of Obok-dong (오복동). A lumberjack, Obok followed a deer into a nearby cave and discovered a utopia.

The five flat, pedal shaped stacks atop the weir’s three towers resemble a rose. In local legend, the flower symbolizes utopia and fruitful harvest, from which Sangju gained its wealth.

To continue on the Cross-Country and Nakdonggang Bike Path, you must cross the weir’s 540 meter bridge. Along the way, spot bicycles etched into the sides of the towers, rest in a nearby observatory, and don’t forget to stamp your bike passport at the Sangju-bo Certification Center.

Just upriver, find the futurist Gyeongcheon Bridge hopping onto Gyeongcheon Island Park (경천섬공원). Created by the Sangju Weir, this bit of land in the Nakdong River fills with strolling and picnicking families in warmer months.

Nakdan Weir (낙단보; Nakdan-bo) sits 17 kilometers south of Sangju Weir in Sangju City.

The second Four Rivers Project watergate on the Nakdong River, 142 meters of its 286-meter length are movable beams that regulate water flow for nearby farms. Two 1,500 kW hydro plants generate juice for nearby residences.

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The weir’s towers mimic the eaves of Gwansuru (관수루), one of three paramount pavilions built along the river during the Goryeo Dynasty (고려; 918~1392).

Where is Gwansuru Pavilion? Perched on the eastern banks, overlooking rushing waters a fraction of a kilometer down path (road view).

Workers discovered an ancient Buddhist statue (마애보살좌상이) carved in the granite hillside while building Nakdan Weir. It tucks under a wooden staircase southeast of the weir.

Cyclists must cross this weir to continue on the certification path, passing a post office and the Nakdan-bo Certification Center on the southeast side.

Gumi Weir (구미보; Gumi-bo), completed in 2011, might be the most photogenic Four Rivers Project watergate. Named after Gumi City, whose downtown buzzes 16 kilometers south, the weir’s towers resemble two dragons and a turtle, symbols of wisdom and longevity.

While most other weirs keep an observatory on the riverbanks, Gumi Weir’s lookout spot occupies the top floor of the middle, turtle-shaped tower. Visitors can ascend elevators or stairs and use a 360-degree view of the Nakdong to spot rare migratory birds.

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The weir itself measures 374 meters, 103 of which lift and lower to regulate water flow. Tucked on the western banks sit two small hydroelectric plants that together generate 3,000 kWh of power per day.

Cyclists and walkers can cross the weir’s 649-meter bridge and explore the western side of the Nakdong, which includes Geumo Seowon Confucian Academy (금오서원).

However, the Nakdonggang Bike Path continues on the river’s eastern banks, where the Gumi-bo Certification Center lies. Dorisa Temple (도리사), which offers temple stays, looms over all on a nearby mountain peak.

Chilgok Weir (칠곡보; Chilgok-bo) is the Nakdong River’s fourth watergate. Built by the Four Rivers Project in 2011, it borrows its name from where it stays, Chilgok County (칠곡군).

The weir measures 348 meters, with 200 meters of movable beams regulating the river’s flow, and a 452-meter maintenance and pedestrian bridge overtop. A pair of hydroelectric plants capture 15.4 GWh of juice per year to power 14,000 homes.

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Chilgok’s towers reflect the legend of Cheolu. During the Silla period, Doseon (도선; 827~898) a Buddhist monk, climbed nearby Ga Mountain (가산) and found iron bulls buried in a flat rock (가산바위) near the summit. It’s thought they brought good luck to the territory.

On the weir’s east side, find Chilgok Weir Observatory. It hosts a convenience store and an office where you can buy and certify bike passports. Chilgok-bo Certification Center sits just outside.

A handful of attractions lure families and tourists to Chilgok Weir, including:

Gangjeong Goryeong Weir (강정고령보; Gangjeong Goryeong-bo) is the longest Four Rivers Project weir. It sits in the Gangjeong Amusement Park (대구강정유원지) on the edge of Daegu Metropolitan City (대구시) near the ARC Cultural Center.

The watergate measures 954 meters. Beams totalling 120 meters rise and lower to control water levels up and downriver. Like other weirs, two small hydro plants capture about 3,000 kWh of electricity a day and feed it to 3,000 households.

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The Gaya Confederacy (42~562 ACE), which inhabited Daegu until the Kingdom of Silla swallowed them whole, inspired the weir’s design.

A semicircle platform hangs over the weir’s midpoint. From a mast in the center, twelve cables radiate down to the deck. They represent Gaya’s twelve prefectures and the twelve strings of the Gayageum (가야금), a traditional Korean instrument originating from the region.

On the east side of the weir, find the Gangjeong Goryeong-bo Certification Center and Gangjeong Goryeong Weir Culture Center (강정보디아크광장), which hosts a convenience store, observation tower, and a shop that sells and certifies bike passports.

The ARC Cultural Center (디아크문화관) perches on a teardrop bit of land at the bottom of Gangjeong Amusement Park. It overlooks the convergence of the Nakdong River and Geumho River (금호강), which flows along the northern border of downtown Daegu City (대구시).

Maybe the most striking bit of architecture along Korea’s four major rivers, The ARC’s name is an acronym that stands for Architecture of River Culture.

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International architect Hani Rashid created the award-winning upturned oval design to depict a fish breaching the surface of the Nakdong, a bird diving into the river, and/or Korean pottery.

What’s inside? A four-story cultural center, open from 10 AM to 6 PM. 

  • Basement — an art floor with pure-white walls
  • 1st Floor — lobby
  • 2nd Floor — circular theater
  • 3rd Floor — open-air observation deck.

Buzzing around The ARC, find green picnic lawns and swarms of careening scooters borrowed from dozens of nearby rental shops.

The Dalseong Wetlands (달성습지) rest just south of The ARC, where the Nakdong and Geumho’s waters run together. Near the end of October, when the silver grass sways, up to 5,000 black cranes migrating to Japan descend on this 595,080-square-meter marshland. Here they refuel amongst racoons, raptors, and more endangered fauna.

Dalseong Weir (달성보; Dalseong-bo) sits 21 kilometers downriver from the Gangjeong Goryeong Weir on the edge of Daegu City. It’s the sixth watergate on the Nakdong River built by the Four Rivers Project (2009~2011).

Sluice gates take up 162 meters of its 580-meter length. They prevent flooding and secure water for local farmers. Three small hydro power plants on its east side create 16 GWh of electricity annually for 1,400 homes.

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Six observation decks jut from the bridge, hanging over the weir. Their concrete supports resemble the bow of a ship sailing down the Nakdong, symbolizing the river’s development. 

Dalseong-bo Certification Center and Dalseong Weir Management Center (달성보통합관리센터) live on the northeast end of the weir. Inside the management center, find a convenience store and an office that sells and certifies bike passports.

Above the management center rises a 5-story tall observation tower with an open-air staircase. It offers views of Nakdong River and Sunset Park (달성노을공원).

Dodong Seowon Confucian Academy (도동서원) sits at the bottom of Jindeung Mountain (진등산) 30 kilometers south of Daegu along the Nakdong River. 

Its name, “Dodong,” translates to “teaching” (/dō/; 도) from the “east” (/dōng/; 동). (Korea is “east” of China.)

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Built in 1568, Japan burned Dodong Seowon to the ground during the Imjin Wars (1592~1598). Korea rebuilt it in its present location in 1605.

The academy was a Seowon (서원), a private preparatory school and a Confucian shrine that trained Yangban (양반), Joseon Dynasty’s (1392~1897) ruling elite. Among many subjects, these academies taught Hanja, Korea’s complex, Chinese-based writing system that kept rich families rich.

In 2019, UNESCO gave the title of World Heritage Site to Dodong and eight other Seowons because they show how Korea borrowed Confucian ideas and design from China and adapted it to local culture.

The government designated Dodong’s simple gable roof, shrine, auditorium, and tile decorated walls national treasures in 1963.

Over 400 years ago, the academy’s founders planted a ginkgo tree (은행나무) in Dodong’s courtyard. Confucius started this tradition to give future generations of scholars arborous shade to study under.

Today, find the same mighty ginkgo turning vibrant in summer and sprouting green in spring, tired limbs held aloft by log supports.

Completed in 2011, Hapcheon Changnyeong Weir (합천창녕보; Hapcheon Changnyeong-bo) is the seventh of eight weirs built by the Four Rivers Project on the Nakdong River.

Along its 328-meter, 138 meters are 11.5-meter tall rotating watergates that store water upriver during droughts, and release it during floods. Two hydro generators on the weir’s east end generate 25 GWh of electricity each year.

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The weir’s bridge not only allows bikers and pedestrians, two lanes permit cars to cross from Changnyeong (창녕군) to Hapcheon (합천군) Counties.

The white swooped masts of the weir’s central towers depict an ibis. These birds inhabit the Upo Wetlands (우포늪), South Korea’s largest inland wetlands and home to dozens of other endangered species. From the weir, it lays seven kilometers inland, as-the-ibis-flies.

East of the weir sits the Hapcheon Changnyeong-bo Certification Center and a Management Office (합천창녕보사업소). Though it lacks a convenience store, it boasts a water fountain, bathrooms, and an observation tower.

Riverside parks inhabit river banks on both sides of the weir.

The Changnyeong Haman Weir (창녕함안보; Changnyeong Haman-bo) is the final Nakdong River weir built by the Four Rivers Project. Completed in 2012, its name comes from Changnyeong (창녕군) and Haman (함안군), the counties on its north and south ends.

The weir measures 549 meters long. Retractable watergates makeup 144 meters of its length. They regulate the river’s flow, providing water for local farmers. Four small hydro plants create 50 GWh of electricity per year, enough power for 8,000 households.

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Midway down the weir, feathery streaks rise into fins along its concrete towers. These represent a swan’s wings flying over the Nakdong River, a symbol that “envisions an eco-friendly future” and references the Ara Gaya (아라가야), a Gaya Confederacy (42~562 ACE) state that lived in this region.

The middle two towers hold stairs that lead down to observatories. Inside, find a Nakdong River lookout spot and information about the weir and its surroundings.

On the southwest banks sits a management center and cultural hall (창녕함안보통합관리센터). Open from 9 AM to 6 PM. It holds a variety of functions:

On the northeast end of the weir lives Gilgok Waterside Eco Park (길곡수변생태공원). It keeps campgrounds and LEDs that light up the bike path’s dividing line at night.

Sinnakdong Steel Bridge (신낙동강철교) is a decommissioned, truss railroad bridge near the intersection of the Miryang River (밀양강) and mighty Nakdong River. It touches both Miryang (밀양시) and Gimhae (김해시) Cities just above Busan (부산시).

Though the bridge first let trains cross in 1962, Korea laid its foundation in 1938 during Japanese Occupation. World War II (1939~1945) and the Korean War (1955~53) paused the bridge’s completion for over twenty years.

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Once running on the Gyeongjeon Rail Line, Sinnakdong Steel Bridge lost its job to the Nakdong River Railroad Bridge (낙동강철교) in 2009. Hanging only 350 meters upriver, this newer, double-track bridge carries KTX trains from Daegu to Jinju (진주시) Cities. 

In 2010, Gimhae City transformed Sinnakdong Steel Bridge into part of the Gimhae Nakdonggang Rail Park (김해낙동강레일파크). On sunny days, dozens of families chug up and down the steel latticed bridge’s old train tracks on pedal-powered rail bikes.

At the south end of the rail line, the rail park turned the quieted rail tunnel into the Gwangyang Wine Cave (광양와인동굴). In its dark and temperate interior dwell barrels of aging raspberry wine, art adorned walls, and countless photo-zones.

The Sinnakdong Steel Bridge is one of five bridges clustered along this section of the Nakdong River. From the Sinnakdong Steel Bridge, the others are:

Two dams comprise the Nakdong Estuary Bank (낙동강하굿둑) near the Nakdong River’s end. They block the two streams flowing around Eulsukdo Island.

The west dam hops from the Gimhae Delta to Eulsukdo. The east dam crosses from mainland Busan to Eulsukdo.

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What do they do? They have three jobs:

  1. Regulate the river flow and trap water to irrigate upstream crops and residents.
  2. Stop salt water from the Korea Strait flowing upriver and destroying freshwater habitats and farms.
  3. Calm and claim the Nakdong’s river banks and nearby coastline for development. 

Compare the east and west dams’ control towers. The east has that 80s vibe. While the west towers sport modern curves. That’s because engineers didn’t build them at the same time.

Engineers completed the dam’s eastern section (map) in 1987. It measures 580 meters. The Four Rivers Project built the western dam in 2011. It spans 350 meters.

Together, the dams employ 10 sluice gates and one canal to allow small fishing vessels to pass from the river to the strait.

Like other Nakdan weirs, Nakdong Estuary Bank produced a few unintended effects. It created an ideal environment for algae to thrive, starving the river of oxygen. And it destroyed naturally occurring brackish (salt and fresh) water environments. 

Environmentalists successfully lobbied the estuary bank’s operators to open the sluice gates and return the region to its primordial state.

Eulsukdo Island (을숙도) is a delta clinging to the end of the Nakdong River as it spills into the Korea Straight or South Sea (Namhae; 남해) in Busan Metropolitan City (부산시).

The Nakdonggang Bird Sanctuary (을숙도철새공원) claims most of the island. It spreads southward from Nakdong South Road (낙동남로).

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This undeveloped green expanse houses thousands of species, including endangered, migratory birds. Visitors can climb to the second floor of the Nakdong Estuary Eco-Center (낙동강하구에코센터), skim info about the sanctuary’s creatures, then gaze at them through telescopes. 

Above the Nakdong South Road, at the top tip of the island, perches a cornucopia of attractions for the Homo sapien set. Among walking paths and recreation fields, find:

Oh, and Eulsukdo Island holds the end (or start) of the Cross-Country Route, marked by the Nakdonggang Estuary Bank Certification Center.

After collecting this last stamp, head into the Nakdong River Culture Center (낙동강문화관). It’s just across the courtyard. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, inside find workers that sell and certify bike passports.