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Seomjingang
Bicycle Path

Ride a rural river through Korea's hill adorned countryside.

Nature lover? Toad river lover.

The Seomjingang Bicycle Path (섬진강자전거길) follows the Seomjin River (섬진강; Seomjingang) from rural to pastoral to bucolic county before spilling into the Korean Straight (남해).

Along the way, you’ll experience one of the country’s more natural riverways, offering mountainside sights and waterfront parks.

The Stats
Start
Imsil County
(임실군)
← 149 km →
7.5 hour
End
Gwangyang City
(광양시)
Checkpoints Logo
Checkpoints (8)
Bus Icon
Bus Terminals
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Directions
Link button to Kakao Maps Highlights.
Highlights

City-to-City Path Breakdowns

Ride the Seomjin rocky river from its source to railroad territory.

Ride under a mountaintop temple to a seaside beach filled with frolicking families.

The Course

Municipalities

The Seomjingang Bike Path snakes through two provinces, four counties, and two cities. Read these short profiles of each.

  • 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. It’s coast, before reclamation, contained extensive mudflats on the Yellow Sea. Jeonju, the largest city, boasts a famed hanok village, museums, festivals, and bibimbap restaurants.
  • South Jeolla Province (전라남도) sits on the southwest tip of Korea. Gwangju Metropolitan City, known for rebelling against the nation’s strongmen policies, once was its capital. Like North Jeolla, South Jeolla keeps the other portion of the fertile Honam Plains and cooks up some of the country’s most delectable dishes. The province’s coast produces seaweed and oysters, and wrangles thousands of mostly uninhabited islands in its borders.
    • Gokseong County (곡성군) is a rural county along the Seomjin River. Known for agriculture like strawberries and perilla leaves, the county recently developed a tourist industry. Seomjingang Train Village makes use of the old Gokseong Station, displaying retired steam engines and amusement park rides.  
    • Gurye County (구례군), South Jeolla’s least populated bucolic retreat, attracts hikers and sightseers ready to conquer Jiri Mountain, which dominates the district’s eastern edge. Hwaeomsa and Saseongam, both mountain dwelling temples, form the county’s historic core. Gurye’s farms pump out wheat, grapes, cucumbers, and a medicinal flower.
    • Gwangyang City (광양시) hangs onto the bottom of the peninsula, where the Seomjin River exits into the Korean Strait. An industrial city, Gwangyang boasts a bustling port and the world’s largest steel mill on a patch of land reclaimed from the sea. Though much of its fishing industry dried up, farmers still grow cucumbers, zucchini, and pluck cherries from the renowned Maehwa Village along the riverside bike path.

Elevation

Bike Path Types

Certification

The Seomjingang Bicycle Path operates eight certification centers throughout its run.

Collect all stamps and receive the Seomjingang Bike Path certification. The route counts towards the Grand Slam certifications. It is not a part of the Four Rivers certification.

Certification Centers

The Seomjin River

Highlights

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How To Get There

The Seomjingang Bike Path is the toughest to access with your bike. Passing only two mid-to-small-sized cities, a supermarket/bus terminal marks the closest entry point and a highway rest stop forms the nearest exit.

Here are your transportation options:

Intercity Bus

The Seomjingang Bike Path lacks major intercity bus terminals near its start and finish lines. And route-choked intercity bus terminals living in people-leaking districts populate its midsection.

However, short of a personal car, intercity buses remain the best option to access the cycling path with your bike.

A picture of an intercity bus with the luggage compartment open.
Pop your bike in the luggage compartment and hop on board the intercity bus.

The Start

The Seomjingang Dam Certification Center (섬진강댐 인증센터) is the Seomjingang Bike Path’s start line. It dwells near the bottom Imsil County (임실군).

To reach it by intercity bus, you have two less-than-ideal options.

Gangjin Bus Terminal

Gangjin Township (강진면), a small outpost near the start line, operates the Gangjin Public Bus Terminal (강진공용버스터미널). Only 1.6 kilometers from the first certification center, it is the closest and best point of entry (directions).

(Note! Korea holds two districts named “Gangjin.” The wrong one, Gangjin County (강진군), sits in South Jeolla Province. The correct one, Gangjin Township, lives in Imsil County, North Jeolla Province. Don’t mix them up!)

However, a reach-in closet sized ticket office and walk-in closet sized waiting room jammed between a supermarket and fried chicken joint comprises Gangjin’s “bus terminal” (road view).

(Can’t find a clerk at the ticket office? Head to the supermarket. The cashier also doles out bus tickets.)

As you might guess, only a few buses drop by the intercity terminal (timetable; click “고속·시외버스 시간표”).

Let’s examine two useful terminals Gangjin Township connects with. 

Seoul

Gangjin Bus Terminal sends four buses a day to the Central City Bus Terminal (센트럴시티터미널in Seoul, between 8:20 and 17:00 (timetable; look for “강진→서울”).

Likewise, Central City Bus Terminal in Seoul dispatches five buses a day between 9:30 and 17:10 (timetable).

(Please double check in advance. Small terminals mean frequent changes.)

Jeonju

A frequent intercity passing through the terminal shuttles between Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal and Sunchang Bus Stop (순창공용버스정류장), with Gangjin acting as a midway stop.

  • 24 buses per day drive south from Jeonju to Suchang between 7:05 and 20:50 (timetable).
  • 18 buses per day drive north from Suchang to Jeonju between 7:40 and 21:15.

Jeonju is Gangjin’s nearest large city. It’s separate intercity (timetable) and express (timetable) terminals provide connecting routes across the country.

(Note! Some intercity buses that roll north, from Suchang to Jeonju, carry honey from local farms. If you’re unlucky, and the bus you’re trying to board has an undercarriage full of the sweet stuff, the driver will turn you away. Wait for the next bus!)

Imsil Bus Terminal

Imsil County, where Seomjingang Path starts, has a larger terminal than the one in Gangjin Township. 

There’s one problem. To get from it to the first certification center, you need to cycle 18.3 kilometers of shoulder-less country roads and climb a 70-meter hill (directions).

Imsil Bus Terminal’s routes, however, include more trips to Seoul, Jeonju, and other North Jeolla Province districts (timetable).

The End

Though the Seomjingang Bike Path ends in Gwangyang City, the largest settlement on the cycling route, its intercity bus terminals sit far from the finish line.

Here are your options to high-tail it off the path after collecting that last stamp.

Seomjingang Rest Area Bus Stop

The Seomjingang Rest Area Bus Stop (섬진강휴게소lies 50 meters from the bike path and 5.5 kilometers from the Baealdo Waterfront Park (배알도수변공원인증센터), the final certification center (directions).

Rest stop? Like, for cars on the highway? Yes. This refueling point lies on the Namhae Expressway, which runs along Korea’s south coast.

The expressway divides the complex of restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, and more in two, with an overhead pedestrian bridge connecting the halves.

Oh! And express buses drop by both sides of the rest stop, letting passengers grab a bite to eat, board, or hop off.

  • Buses westbound for Gwangju, Yeosu, and more stop on the northwest side (timetable).
  • Buses eastbound for BusanUlsanand more stop on the southeast side (timetable).

Though none of the buses travel north, cities at the end of the routes’ lines offer excellent transfer points, including:

(Note! This isn’t a terminal. It’s a bus stop. So once all passengers finish buying or peeing out sugar water, the bus hits the road.)

Jungma Bus Terminal

Jungma Bus Terminal (중마버스터미널) is the closest terminal to Seomjingang’s finish line. However, you’ll need to cross 10.4-kilometers of industrial and city streets to reach it (directions).

Unlike the Seomjingang Rest Area, Jungma’s terminal runs buses to Seoul, Incheon, Daegu, and Daejeon. Other buses hit Busan, Gwangju, Ulsan, and local South Jeolla outposts (timetable).

The Middle & More

A handful of intercity bus terminals lie along the middle of the Seomjingang Bike Path. Let’s look at each.

Seomjingang Bus Terminals

Find a complete list of intercity bus terminals on the Seomjingang Bicycle Path below.

Trains

For an extended stretch, the Seomjingang Bike Path follows the Joella Line (전라선), which travels from Seoul (서울역) to Yeosu Expo (여수시) Stations.

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.

Two Joella Line train stations sit nearest the bike path.

Both stations in Gokseong (곡성군) and Gurye (구례군) Counties dwell near the middle of the cycling route. You can transfer to another part of the bike path using nearby intercity terminals.

Train Trials

Want to ride a train with your full-size bike (MTB, road, hybrid)? You’ll need to book a ticket that includes a bike cradle.

How? Download the Korail app or search their website. Find one of the select trains with bicycle seats and purchase it in advance.

Read our guide to the app here and check bike-friendly train timetables here.

  • Booking online or by using the app requires an ARC number or a kind Korean friend.
  • All bicycle tickets come with a seat for the human and a cradle for the bike in an adjoining train car. 
  • All trains accept folding bicycles. No special ticket. Just compact and stuff it in the luggage compartment.