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The Yeongnam Alps

The Yeongnam Alps is a cluster of seven mountains which stand at over 1,000 meters above sea level in varying regions of Korea’s Southern Gyeongsang Province, including the cities of Miryang and Ulsan. It took its name from the European Alps. Stretching over an area of approximately 255 square kilometers, the Yeongnam Alps draw in a great number of hikers every fall for its mesmerizing silver grass fields covering the mountain ridges. The Yeongnam Alps can be hiked by crossing through the Haneul Eoksae-gil (Sky Silver Grass Trail) and Dulle trails.

The Eoksae Baram-gil (Reed Wind Trail), located within the Haneul Eoksae-gil Trail, is one of the most popular trekking courses of the Yeongnam Alps. The trail starts at Ganwoljae Pass, continues through Sinbul Mountain and ends at Yeongchuk Mountain. Stretching along the main ridge of the Yeongnam Alps, the trail takes hikers through vast plains of silver grass reeds and to a few peaks over 1,000 meters tall.

In particular, Ganwoljae is carpeted with more than 82 acres of silver grass that transform into a festival ground in the fall when the silver grass is in full bloom. During this time of the year, a variety of events such as outdoor concerts and a paragliding contest are held at Ganwoljae Pass, attracting a great number of visitors from across the nation. From late fall to early winter, the 490 acres of Sinbulpyeongwon also offer splendid scenes of silver grass dancing in the wind. On your way down from Yeongchuk Mountain, you can drop by Tongdosa Temple for a glimpse into Korea’s Buddhist culture.

Visitors can also enjoy culture and entertainment at the Yeongnam Alps. The Yeongnam Alps Complex Welcome Center in Ulju Town is a place where people can enjoy watching films and enjoy other forms of entertainment. In the town of Ulju located next to the Yeongnam Alps, an annual film festival, called the Ulju Mountain Film Festival (UMFF) is held. This year, will be held from September 7 to 11, and show about 140 mountain-themed movies from around the world, under the grand theme of a “New Journey.” The town also plans to build a theme park where families can enjoy both environment-friendly entertainment and education, including experiential learning and forest adventures. On top of this, forest trails and a cable car project will further attract more tourists. The National Recreation Forest Management Office has been operating a monorail near Shinbulsan Falls Recreation Forest from July 11 through which tourists can enjoy the forest scenery. Taking off at the base of Recreation Forest, the monorail passes Paraeso Falls and goes up higher into the forest. From the monorail’s drop-off zone, it is only an hour walk to Silver Grass Field, which is expected to attract a great number of tourists in the future. The monorail enables seniors and those with disabilities to enjoy the beautiful landscape of Shinbulsan Mountain.

Mirang City is also putting in efforts to develop the Yeongnam Alps Ecotourism at Jaeyak Mountain Sajapyeong Wetland. It is the largest wetland in Korea with an area of 580,000 ㎡, and was officially designated as an Ecotourism Site by South Korea’s Ministry of Environment. Ecotourism Sites are designated by the Ministry of Environment, in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to develop a site which is deemed appropriate for conservation to provide an opportunity to experience and learn the importance of the ecosystem. The Sajapyeong Wetland is a great ecological environment with Leptalina unicolor, the endangered wild animals, plants and insects, as well as a silver grass habitat, making the mountain one of the top 100 mountains in Korea.

The city is planning to build the Yeongnam Alps Ecotourism Center by 2021, which is expected to play an important role as a hub for regional tourism. It can provide an opportunity for the city to take a leap forward in becoming a popular ecotourism site and revitalize the local economy.

Sources: Korea Tourism Organization; Yonhap News; Newsis

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