Jeju Olle is a series of walking courses that together trail around Jeju and nearby islands. As of January 2013 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.
Starting Point: Jeoji Community Center
Finishing Point: Inhyang-dong
Distance: 18.8 km
Estimated Walking Time: 5-6 hours
To get to the start point, take Express Bus Nohyeong from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal directly to the Jeoji Community Center. (If you take the West Coast intercity bus, you will have to change buses at Sinchang. Get on the Moseulpo Shuttle Bus to Jeoji.)
There is no cell phone service in the Gotjawal Forest. Also, it is recommended not to enter the forest after 3 p.m. The trail would be impossible to follow in the dark.
This course does not have many bathroom facilities or places to purchase drinks or food.
The course ends at a bus stop. From there, you can take a bus to Moseulpo Public Health Center, where you can take the West coast Intercity Bus back to Jeju City.
We decided to hike this course on a clear Sunday in April. We were excited to experience the natural setting this course promised, however, did not know if it would hold the same attraction for us as the Olles that are on the coast.
When we arrived in Jeoji; however, the weather had darkened. It was cloudy and cold. We almost decided not to walk the course, but chose to try it anyway.
The first section is mostly through farms and fields of wildflowers. We stopped to pet numerous ponies and enjoyed the views of fields. The sun came out and we were feeling good about the weather.
Just as we began to walk into the forest, it started thundering. We were worried because at this point in the course we were too far along to turn back.
The plant life is unique in Gotjawal, as everything grows on top of volcanic rock. We were mesmerized by the number and variety of plants and birds. It began to rain heavily as soon as we entered the forest. Shortly after it started hailing, and we began to look for a place to take cover. But minutes later the rain and hail stopped completely.
The course continues through the forest for some time and then passes the green tea fields and museum at O’Sulloc, a popular tourist spot. We’ve never understood the charm of the place, but it was nice to see civilization again and find a place to use the bathroom.
The course re-enters the forest shortly after. We encountered a deer in this forest, and when we attempted to take a picture of him he barked hoarsely and ran away.
The weather cleared up entirely, and once again we found ourselves walking in a nice spring day. The course exits the forest and then runs again through more fields of flowers on the final stretch to Inhyang.
Overall, we were amazed by the nature all along the course and surprised by the weather repeatedly. Spring is the perfect season to hike this path especially to enjoy the flowers and green forest.