Jeju Olle Ganse Pony Doll. Photo by Doug MacDonald

Jeju Olle Ganse Pony Doll. Photo by Douglas MacDonald

Jeju Olle is a series of walking courses that together trail around Jeju and nearby islands. As of December 2012 there are 26 paths. The icon of a Jeju pony, “Ganse” in Korean, acts as a guide along with blue and orange ribbons that help travelers find their way. My name is Alissa Dolan and my husband Andrew and I are attempting to walk all of the paths during our time on Jeju Island. There aren’t words to express the refreshing beauty of the Olle trails, but you are welcome to join me as I try to describe each course.

Basics

Starting Point: Dongmun Rotary Sanji-cheon Stream (near Jeju Port)
Finishing Point: Jocheon Manse Dongsan (Memorial to Korean resistance during the Japanese occupation)
Distance: 18.8 km
Estimated Walking Time: 6-7 hours
Scenery: Coastal, oreum (volcanic cones), villages, farmland
Main Sights: Sarabong (hill), Samyang Black Sand Beach, Wondang Temple

Special Notes

    • This path begins near Jeju Port in Gu-Jeju and is easy to find. You can access this by taking a taxi to Dongmun Rotary and bus No. 100 also has a stop here.
    • The start of the trail is directly across the street from the market which is identifiable by the Ganse and the sign and stamp box.
    • It ends directly next to a bus stop. Bus 20 can be taken back to Jeju city or an inter-city bus can be taken.
    • There are no facilities for a couple of hours between Wondang Temple and the trail’s ending point.
    • The course was relatively easy to follow and despite the hills, was easy walking.

Our Journey

This trail starts across the street from the busy Dongmun market but quickly delivers its hikers into narrow and quiet streets.  About a kilometer into the trail, it brought us to a woman selling fruit on an otherwise empty road. We wanted a few small oranges, but through her insistence ended up with a full bag of them. We regretted the load as we began to hike up Sarabong.

Sarabong is thickly covered with green trees, even in the winter, but there are a couple of places on the path up where you can pause and observe the sky, city, mountain and ocean which make up the striking scenery of Jeju Island.

Starting point of Olle 18 across the street from Dongmun Market. A bridge over Sanjicheon stream. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

Starting point of Olle 18 across the street from Dongmun Market. A bridge over Sanjicheon stream. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

The hill was very crowded on this clear November morning, and I debated handing out our excess fruit to the fellow hikers, but decided not to distract them from their work out. They seemed quite motivated dressed in name-brand hiking clothes. The trek down the hill is scenic and pleasant. The wide path winds through evergreens and is followed by more open areas to enjoy the view of the ocean.

Below Sarabong, the trail runs through the remains of a destroyed village and it is here that the path becomes somewhat unclear. We almost lost our way at one point, and a middle-aged local pointed us in the right direction. We thanked him with a few of our oranges.  He was so grateful that he walked with us as the trail moved through an area which was crowded with rocks and stone fences but otherwise deserted.

The view facing West from Sarabong. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

The view facing West from Sarabong. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

Remains of Goneul-dong Village. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

Remains of Goneul-dong Village. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

The course continues along small village roads and weaves around farmland, leading up to a coastal strip before Samyang Beach. A little before arriving at the black sand beach, we were surprised to discover that we had walked the first half of the trail in just a little over two hours. Also, our sack of oranges was well over half empty and we’d made several friends through distributing them. The beach was quiet and appeared larger than it had when we visited in the summer.

Samyang Black Sand Beach in the winter. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

Samyang Black Sand Beach in the winter. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

After the beach, the trail climbs another oreum (Wondangbong) and passes by a secluded Buddhist temple (Bultapsa). The area seemed so far from Jeju City that it was hard to believe we had been hiking through it a few hours earlier. Next, the path leads through scenery that is primarily open fields with great views of the mountains and ocean. We did not pass any facilities or stores on this section of the trail, so we enjoyed stopping to snack on the oranges and appreciate the views Olle offered us.

On Wondangbong after passing Bultap Temple. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

On Wondangbong after passing Bultap Temple. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

The remainder of the route runs along the coast through small villages that are situated so close to the sea that parts of their walkways are actually in it. We finished our remaining oranges somewhere between the villages of Dokmoru and Dongsan.

The houses in Dokmuro Village seem a little too close to the water for comfort. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

The houses in Dokmuro Village seem a little too close to the water for comfort. Photo by Alissa Dolan.

We meandered around the Jocheon Manse Dongsan for a little while before realizing that Olle had delivered us to our destination. We were very pleased with the fact that we had completed our journey in less than five hours and had also eaten or given away 60 plus oranges.

Further Information

Map (Sanjicheon – Jocheon)

More photography (Olle 18 slideshow)

Olle 18 from the official Web site

Jeju Olle Ganse Pony Doll photo essay by Douglas MacDonald

Tagged with →