Cross-Country Routes icon.

Saejae
Bicycle Path

Climb two mighty mountain passes in the center of Korea.

Bike, walk and gawk at waterfalls and peaks.

The third leg of the Cross-Country Route, Saejae Bicycle Path (새재자전거길) climbs two of the longest uphill stretches among Korea’s certification bike paths.

From the end of the Hangang Bike Path in Chungu (충주시), the bike road traverses the Sojo (소조령; 380 m) and Ihwa (이화령; 539 m) Passes before diving back down to the Nakdong River (낙동강).

The Stats
Start
Chungju City
(충주시)
← 100 km →
6 hours
End
Sangju City
(상주시)
Checkpoints Logo
Checkpoints (4)
Bus Icon
Bus Terminals
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Directions
Link button to Kakao Maps Highlights.
Highlights

Ride rock-faced valleys before hopping two mountain passes.

Ride rock-faced valleys before hopping two mountain passes.

Learn the top highlights along the Saejae Bicycle Path, including waterfalls and cathedrals.

Find out how to take a bus or train to the Saejae Bicycle Path.

Bike Path Overview

The Saejae Bicycle Path gains its name from the Mungyeong Saejae Pass, the highest point of the Great Yeongnam Road, which connected Hanseong (Seoul), the capital of the Joseon Dynasty (1392 ~ 1897), to Dongnae (Busan) on the peninsula’s southeast tip.

The name “Saejae Pass” (새재) translates to, “a pass so high even birds cannot cross.” Before tunnel hopping railroads and expressways, the gap between the Sobaek Mountain Range offered the quickest path to the southeast Gyeongsan Region.

(The Saejae Bike Path doesn’t cross the Mungyeong Saejae Pass. However, near Ihwa Pass, you’ll roll by a road leading to the site (directions), now a park with three historic gates.)

The Course

The 100-kilometer-long Saejae Bicycle Path begins (sort of) where the Hangang Bicycle Path left off: Tangeumdae Park (충주탄금대; certification center) in Chungju City.

The route snakes through rock-faced valleys and along the Dal (달천), then Seokmundong (석문동천) Streams as they trickle from Sobaek Range mountaintops.

Just outside of Chungju, ride by Sujupal Peak (수주팔봉), a rock wall lined with spires and punctuated with a short waterfall and suspension bridge.

The bike road climbs uphill to Suanbo Township (수안보면certification center), known for its hot springs, then ascends Sojo Pass (소조령; 380 m).

Roll by Suok Pokpo Falls (수옥폭포) as you descend into Yeonpung Village (연풍면). This Catholic Church adorned settlement also marks the start of the Ocheon Bicycle Path, which runs westward towards the Geum River.

From Yeonpung Village, climb the Ihwa Pass (이화령; 539 m; certification center) the longest and tallest incline of all Korea’s certification paths.

Descend switchbacks and pass a road leading to the bike path’s namesake: Mungyeong Saejae Pass (문경새재).

(Want to explore Saejae Pass (now a provincial park)? Venture three kilometers up a short hill and find three Joseon-era Gates (directions).)

Ride into Mungyeong Town (문경읍), which is not downtown Mungyeong City (문경시). Follow a flat course down Joryeong Stream (조령천), then Yeong River (영강).

Along the way, you’ll pass Jinnamgyoban Area (진남교반), a horseshoe river bend, which hosts a historic fortress, walking trail, and the closed Buljeong Station (불정역; certification center).

Next, arrive at the Jeomchon Neighborhoods (점촌1동2동3동4동5동). Mungyeong City’s downtown. Here you’ll find motelsrestaurants, and a train station and intercity bus terminal. This is the last major settlement on the Saejae Bicycle Path.

From Jeomchon, the cycling route chugs 20 kilometers down the Yeong River until it spills into the Nakdong River.

Sangpung Bridge (상풍교certification center) marks the end of Saejae. The Cross-Country Route continues onto the Nakdonggang Bicycle Path.

(Where’s the actual start of the Nakdonggang Bike Path? Climb aboard an intercity bus at Jeomchon (점촌터미널) or Sangju (상주종합) Bus Terminals and head east to Andong City (안동시).

(This detour isn’t necessary for the Cross-Country certification, however.)

Municipalities

Check out these breakdowns of the provinces and municipalities along the Saejae Bicycle Path.

Elevation

The Saejae Bicycle Path holds a pair of the longest and highest ascents of any certification bike route in Korea: the Sojo and Ihwa Passes.

Intimidating? If you apply the balm of low gearing, patience, (and walking), these extended inclines will pass like an afternoon allergy attack.

Sojo Pass

Sojo Pass (소조령; 380 m) crosses under Shinseon Peak (신선봉; 966 m) on Juheul Mountain (주흘산; 1,108 m).

The bike route climbs the pass between Suanbo Town (수안보) and Yeonpung Village (연풍면).

Traveling north to south (Incheon to Busan)? Start from a 241 meter (above sea level) base and snake 2.3 kilometers to 380 meter summit (directions).

  • Total climb (north to south): 139 m over 2.3 km with a 6% average incline.

Approaching from the south? From Yeonpung Village (연풍면), the climb starts from a lower base, but spreads over a longer distance.

  • Total climb (south to north): 151 m over 6.2 km with a 2.4% average incline.

The view from the top? Thick tree lines with glimpses of nearby hills and mountains (road view).

Ihwa Pass

Traveling southward? Ihwa Pass (이화령) arrives immediately following Sojo Pass.

The cycling route rolls into Yeonpung Village, spins round a roundabout, then shoots back up the pass below Joryeong Mountain (조령산; 1,026).

Ihwa represents the longest continuous climb and highest peak of all Korea’s certification bike paths (directions).

If you’re cycling Incheon to Busan, Ihwa’s uphill ascent starts from Yeonpung (234 m) and follows a zig-zagging mountain road five kilometers to the pass’ summit (539 m; directions).

  • Total climb (north to south): 305 m over 5.3 km with a 5.8% average incline.

Traveling north? Begin the climb from the edge of Mungyeong Town (226 m) and follow a set of switchbacks to the top (539 m; directions).

  • Total climb (south to north): 313 m over 4.9 km with a 6.4% average incline.

The pass’s south (or east) slope has more switchbacks and shade. No problem for a summer climb. But in winter, when snow lingers longer, those tight turns require extra caution.

Bike Path Types

The Saejae Bike Path runs on roads. Only the opening and ending stages — around downtown Chungju and Mungyeong City’s Jeomchon Neighborhoods — offer protected bike paths.

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Scared of riding roads with hulking metal machines? I don’t blame you. However, two route companions make things a little easier:

These highways flow through tunnels bored into the mountainside, skipping the sheer climbs that once endangered cross-country travelers.

The result? The bike route’s country roads get little traffic, occupied only by local farmers or straggling vacationers.

Certification

The Saejae Bicycle Path holds five (5) certification centers throughout its run.

Collect all stamps and receive the Saejae Bike Path certification. The route also counts towards the Cross-Country and Grand Slam certifications.

Certification Centers

An Extra Stamp

Near Yeonpung Town (연풍면), between the Sojo and Ihwa Passes, find the Haengchon Crossroads Certification Center. This stamp booth is the first on the Ocheon Bicycle Path. It’s not a member of the Saejae Bike Path.

A picture of the Haengchon Crossroads Certification Center on the Ocheon Bicycle Path in Yeonpung Village, South Korea.
Lying on the Saejae Bike Path, the Haengchon Crossroads Certification Center marks the start of the Ocheon Bicycle Path in Yeonpung Village.

Mungyeong Saejae Pass

Mungyeong Saejae Pass (문경새재) was a critical point along the Great Yeongnam Road, which connected the capital of the Joseon Dynasty (1392 ~ 1897; 대조선국) to the kingdom’s southeastern regions.

Why critical? The Sobaek Mountain Range (소백산맥), which runs from Korea’s east coast down to the bottom of the peninsula, forms an unavoidable obstacle. Before tunnels and aircraft, ancient travelers had to cross this treacherous range.

Highlights

The Saejae Bicycle Path is one of the shortest (100 km) certification paths. However, it offers plenty of scenic mountain vistas and historic treasures.

Chungju Light World (충주라이트월드) glows nightly near Tangeumdae Park (탄금대) in Chungju.
Chungju Light World (충주라이트월드) glows nightly near Tangeumdae Park (탄금대) in Chungju.

Tangeumdae Park covers Daemun Mountain on the northwest bank of downtown Chungju. This spot, where the South Han River and Dal Stream converge, hosted two historical events.

A picture of the top side of Sujupal Peak (수주팔봉), a rock wall topped with stony spires on Dal Stream just south of downtown Chungju.
Sujupal Peak (수주팔봉) is a rock wall topped with stony spires on Dal Stream just south of downtown Chungju.

Sujupal Peaks (Sujupalbong) is a rock wall topped with stony spires on Dal Stream south of downtown Chungju. When viewed from across the stream, spectators can spot eight (/pal/; 팔) peaks. Hence, “Sujupal Peaks (수주봉).”

A picture of Seokmundong Stream (석문동천) flowing through Suanbo Township in Chungju City, South Korea.
The Seokmundong Stream runs through Suanbo Township, which boasts famed hot springs.

Suanbo Hot Springs (수안보 온천) is Suanbo Township’s (수안보면) main attraction. For centuries, visitors dropped by this mountain outpost and bathed in hot springs, believing the mineral infused water, gushing from 250 below, arrested the hands of father time.

A picture of Suok Falls (수옥폭포) in Goesan County, below the Sojo Pass (소조령) on the Saejae Bike Path (새재자전거길).
Suok Falls pours 20 meters onto a stony landing just south of Sojo Pass on the Saejae Bike Path.

Just south of Sojo Pass pours Suok Falls (수옥폭포). This 20-meter tall waterfall comprises three stages, with the second and third forming centuries-old divots in their stony landing.

A picture of Yeonpung Holy Land (천주교연풍성당) in Yeonpung Village in Goesan County on the Saejae and Ocheon Bicycle Paths, South Korea.
Yeonpung Catholic Cathedral lives in Yeonpung Village bear both the Saejae and Ocheon Bike Paths.

Yeonpung Holy Land (천주교연풍성당) sits on the edge of Yeonpung Town in Goesan County. Once the site where Catholics were martyred, this complex now features a cathedral, ancient hanok where rebel priests preached, and a variety of other commentative features.

A picture of the western view from on top of Ihwa Pass (이화령) in Goesan County, South Korea.
The westward view of the Ihwa Mountain Pass along the Cross-Country Route’s Saejae Bike Path in Korea.

Woryeong Bridge (월영교) or Woryeonggyo spans the Nakdong River a kilometer downstream from Andong DamMeasuring 387 meters long and 3.6 meters wide, Woryeong is Korea’s longest wooden bridge.

Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park sits on top of Mungyeong Saejae Pass. It was the highest climb along the ancient Great Yeongnam Road, which connected Seoul with Busan. Inside the park find the Mungyeong Gateways, three ancient fortress gates built after the 16th century Japanese Invasions.

A picture of the Jinnamgyoban Area (진남교반) in Mungyeong City, South Korea along the Saejae Bicycle Path.
The Jinnamgyoban Area includes an ancient fort, unique rock formations, and a deep horseshoe riverbend.

Jinnamgyoban Area (진남교반) covers a horseshoe bend in the Yeong River (영강). Around it find notable sites, including Gomo Fortress, Tokkibiri Cliffside Road, and Mungyeong Omija Theme Tunnel.

Just east of the Jinnamgyoban Area, find Buljeong Station (불정역). It was once a stop along the Mungyeong Line (문경선). After the line closed, Mungyeong City transformed the site into a pension, then railbike stop. Now its stone-built station hosts a doll museum.

How To Get There

Though far from the subways and airports of metropolitan cities, two transportation options give cyclists and their bicycles access to the Saejae Bike Path:

A picture of a mugunghwa train arriving at a station in South Korea.
Though limited and require reservations, trains offer an alternative way to get you and your bike to Korea's bike paths.

Intercity Bus

Intercity buses. The go-to transport for bikers and their bikes in Korea.

A few terminals hang near the start and finish line of the Saejae Bike Path. Not riding the Cross-Country Route? These offer a quick point of entry and exit.

Trains

None of the bus timetables fit your schedule? Try a train. The Gyeongbuk Line (경북선) offers another way to get you and your wheels to and from the Saejae Bike Path.