A guide to hiking Jeju’s Olle Trails

Dec 18, 2019 | Asia, Global travel, South Korea

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(Last updated on: 01/04/2020)

Jeju’s Olle Trails offer unique opportunities for a gentle stroll along the island’s shoreline or an adventurous hike across the lava fields. Whether you’re an avid hiker, an active family or someone who enjoys going for walks, there is an Olle Trail for you! In this post I will tell you all about Jeju Island’s Olle Trails, giving hints and tips on how to make the most of your outdoor activities on Jeju Island!

What are the Olle Trails?

The Jeju Olle Trails are a series of routes that make up one long-distance footpath on the island. There are 21 main routes, with 5 sub-routes, and the whole trail is around 422km long. The landscapes are ever-changing: some routes pass through farms, some through beaches, and some through forests. Olle is a local word for “a narrow pathway that is connected from the street to the front gate of a house”, in the Jeju dialect.

The route as a whole was founded in 2007 – and ever since, people have flocked from South Korea and beyond to spend some time hiking along different Olle Trails. There are coloured signs letting you know which direction you are walking in, and markers pointing out the different trails within the route.

DID YOU KNOW: The trails all have individual rest years, to allow time for the area to breathe and plants to grow back, retaining the beauty of each trail for future visitors.

The Olle Trails were actually founded by an ex-journalist, Suh Myung-suk. After many stressful years on the job she decided to take some time out and refuel, so she headed to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago. Inspired by her trip and the walk itself, Suh decided it would be amazing to have something similar at home in Jeju. With a team of like-minded people she set about discovering and creating hiking routes on the island, which was no easy feat!

Which is the best time of year to hike the Olle Trails?

Jeju Island has its own unique weather system. Being an island, there is often a lot of rain on Jeju Island, particularly during monsoon season. But don’t let that put you off! Even in the rain the Olle Trails can be enjoyable- just don’t forget to pack your pocket-sized waterproof, just incase!

The summer season is very hot and humid and this is also the time with the highest rainfall. So I would personally recommend avoiding hiking the Olle Trails during this time.

Click here to find out why you SHOULD NOT TRUST the Jeju Island weather forecast!

Winter can be a beautiful time to look at the Jeju landscape and admire the scenery, however it can get bitterly cold during this time, especially when you are by the coast. So I would avoid hiking at this time of year too.

The best time of year to enjoy the Olle Trails is in the spring or autumn. During this time the weather is warm but not too humid and the winds are less fierce.

Jeju Olle Trails packing list

It is always important to ensure that you have the appropriate gear and supplies when going hiking, especially if you are walking to remote areas (I learned this when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro!).

Here are my recommendations for a Mount Hallasan packing list-

  • Hiking boots- mine are Karrimor boots
  • Walking poles- I don’t personally use these for small hikes, but I do love a good walking pole! There are some great deals on Amazon.
  • Reusable water bottle- we love our Cambelbak, which is great quality and even has a kids version!
  • Waterproof coat- if the weather is hot, I recommend a light-weight rain poncho, like this one, otherwise I usually wear my North Face rain jacket
  • Lunch and snacks- you never know when there will be places to be food
  • First aid kit- because you never er know when you might need one. This one from Amazon is pretty handy.
  • Suncream- The sun is strong in Jeju!
  • Baby carrier- if you’re taking young children it’s best to wear them because not all trails are stroller-friendly. We LOVE our Tula Free to Grow.

Which are the best Olle trails to walk?

Across the 21 Olle Trails and their 5 sub-routes, there are a lot of different options. And of course, these things are entirely subjective. Some routes are easier than others, some are long and some are short.

Here is a map from the Official Site of Korea Tourism showing a map of all of the Olle Trails.

Map of Jeju Island’s Olle Trails

#1 Olle Trail 10

This is one of the most popular Olle Trails, with a distance of around 17.5km – it takes around 5 hours to hike the whole trail.

Route 10 goes from Hwasun Beach (easily accessible by bus or taxi) to Moseulpo.

A beautiful coastal walk, route 10 allows you fantastic views of the ocean and various volcanic cones known as oreum in the local Jeju dialect. You will also pass the Altteureu Airfield, the remnants of a Japanese airfield which you are free to explore.

The trail ends at Moseulpo Harbour, where you can relax and enjoy the surroundings!

#2 Olle Trail 14.1

One of the best Olle Trails is 14.1, which is around 9.3km long. Hiking it takes roughly 3 hours, depending on your pace, and it is incredibly green.

Start from the village of Jeonji and follow the blue ribbons – or, start from the other end and follow the red ribbons to take you back to the village.

You will pass through farms and fields, and spot the beautiful Ganses – native ponies whose name means slow wanderer. Stop and enjoy the view of Mount Hallasan and the island’s coast, then keep going until you hit the tea plantation. Here you can enjoy a green tea ice cream, or a mug of steaming tangerine tea.

TOP TIP: the village of Jeonji is home to one of the best pizzerias on the island, and you can never underestimate the importance of being well fed before a hike…

#3 Olle Trail 6

At 13.3km long, route 6 is one of the best Olle Trails – not too long but not too short, and with a low difficulty level. It takes around 4 hours to hike this route, depending on your pace and how often you stop to admire the view.

If you want an overview of Jeju in a short period of time, then this is the route to walk; it covers a wide variety of terrains, and you’ll see beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, monuments and more.

There are cafés along the way to stop for refreshments, and in the more urban areas you may struggle to find the blue and red ribbons – but just look down and you’ll be able to spot markings on the tarmac roads instead!

See some of the routes in this video!

#4 Olle Trail 18.1

A short ferry ride away on Chujado Island, 18.1 is one of the most incredible Olle Trails. It allows you a real insight into a rural South Korean area. The route takes around 6-8 hours, so planning is really important; it isn’t easy to arrange to stay overnight on the island, but it can be done. Ferries are limited but if you time it right, you’ll be absolutely fine.

However, because of these slight difficulties, many people don’t hike along route 18.1 – this means you’ll be one of very few hikers to have done so, and it really is so worth it for the views and the landmarks.

TOP TIP: the Chuja Olle Guesthouse is recommended for walkers, which costs around 20,000 WON per night.

#5 Olle Trail 9

One of the more difficult Olle Trails, this one involves a bit of climbing. However, it is also one of the shorter routes at 6.3km – and the views are beautiful.

Jeju is known for its biodiversity, and this trail definitely provides plenty of examples of that. There are beautiful flowers, plants and trees along the trail. Ocean views and mountain scenery are the icing on the cake, and this part of the Olle Trail is definitely a photographers dream.

Another great part of route 9 is the Japanese Army tunnel which still exists. You can walk through it, and learn a bit of history.

Why should you walk one of the Olle Trails?

The Olle Trails in Jeju are a fantastic way of getting to know the island. They offer sightseeing opportunities, a chance to be at one with nature and also somewhere to escape from day to day life. It’s easy to do, too – just turn up at a route and walk. There is route information available on the official tourist sites, and you can also hike with a guide.

As there are so many routes, you are often alone walking along the Olle Trail. And sometimes, that’s just what you need.

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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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