Like nature? Then you’ll love the Toad River.
The cycling course features a bounty of sights. The northern regions present unique river rocks, a converted railroad tunnel, and a train village. And a cherry-blossom-lined road, colorful bridge, and mountaintop temple decorates the southern section.
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. Its coast, before reclamation, contained extensive mudflats on the Yellow Sea. Jeonju, the largest city, boasts a famed hanok village, museums, festivals, and bibimbap restaurants.
- Sunchang County (순창군) urges visitors to drop by their Gochujang Village and try their unique take on Korea’s spicy red pepper paste and other fermented sauces. The county’s towns and villages dwell on steep mountains near popular parks with colorful fall foliage and Seomjin River sights.
- Namwon City (남원시) wields the nickname “city of love” because it served as the setting for the famous love story of Chunhyang, about a faithful woman who resisted a local magistrate until her true love returned from Seoul. The city holds a yearly festival, beauty contest, and theme park in the story’s honor. In the southeast rises Korea’s Jiri Mountain, Korea’s second tallest.
- 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.
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:
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.