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Ulsan Cycling Guide

A guide to cycling in Ulsan

Country roads are not too far away

By Luke Cape:

On first impression, Ulsan may not seem to be the most bike-friendly city. But on closer inspection, the city and the surrounding areas have so much to offer. There are near 100kms of traffic-free bike paths criss-crossing the city. There are numerous single track downhill mountain biking trails hidden in the suburban mountains of Dong-gu, Jung-gu and Ulju-gun. And the quiet, backroad cycling in the countryside is not far away.

In this guide, i’ll introduce 5 routes that I like around the city. There’s also links to maps of the routes, that you can either follow on Endomondo (smartphone app that will direct you as you cycle) or download the GPX file to use on other GPS devices.

Some cycle routes in Ulsan

A: Taehwagang and Bukgu Cycle Paths (easy)

B: Donggu and Muryeongsan Circuit (intermediate)

C: Jinha beach backroads ride (easy)

D: Dudong climbing course (challenge)

E: Yeongnam Alps climbing course (challenge)

 

Route A: Ulsan’s Riverside Cycle Paths

Link to map/gpx (Taehwa River path): Click here 

Link to map/gpx (Bukgu River path): Click here 

There are around 50km of riverside bike paths in Ulsan, the majority of which go along the Taehwa river. Starting from ‘Old downtown’ (Seongnam-dong), a car-free bridge takes you across the river.

Cycling/walking bridge across the Taehwa

From here the cycle path on the Southern bank, if followed West, takes you all the way to Seonbawi Rock, beyond Guyoung-ri (around 12km)

 

Seonbawi rock, at the Western end of the cycle path

North of the river, the path continues East along the river bank towards the Hyundai Car Factory, through some pretty parks and reeds.

Bike path along the North bank of the Taehwa River

Around 3km East from Seongnam-dong, the path splits, one fork continuing towards the car factory, the shipyards and Dong-gu, and the other turning North to continue for around 15kms past the airport to the edge of the city limits (around 15km). This path is rarely used, and always quiet, even on busy Summer evenings.

Into the countryside beyond Hogye, Bukgu

 

 

 

Route B: Dong-gu and Muryeong-san Circuit

Link to map of route / GPX file: Click here

This route takes you along the Taehwa river estuary out of the central-city, around and through Ulsan’s massive shipyards in Dong-gu, before winding through little fishing villages on the East coast and back to the city over Muryeong-san, a challenging 5km gradual hill climb.

 

Following the riverside bike path from old downtown (Seongnam-dong) which skirts the river beyond the parks, past the Hyundai motorcar factory and big ships waiting to export the thousands of cars, and on to the Mipo shipyard and Hyundai Offshore shipyard.

The Offshore shipyard from the bikepath in Dong-gu

You can cycle along the footpaths here, and keep going around the coast to spot some more of the gargantuan projects underway (Chevron are building the skeleton for what will be a man-made island for drilling oil off Australia further around the coast).

 

A random shipwrecked boat along the route

After taking that all in, you can continue around the coast, past Ilsan beach and the main Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyards. At Nam-mok, follow the brown sign pointing right to Jujeon Black Pebble Beach (Road 1027), and climb over the short hill. Continue along this road through the many little fishing villages as far as Jeongja-hang, a hook-shaped harbour jutting into the sea.

A view of the sea along the road from Nam-mok to Jujeon

From here you can continue up the coast to the black pebble beach or turn back inland and over Muryeong-san. To go over the mountain, don’t take the main route 31, as it goes through a long tunnel. Take the old road that winds up and over the hill. It’s a very pretty leafy road that’ll take you back to Ulsan near Costco.

Climbing up Muryeong-san on the way back to the city

 

 

Route C: Jinha beach from the city (avoiding the traffic)

Link to map of the route / GPX file: Click here

This is a nice day trip to do, on quieter roads than the big roads that go through the oil complex. First, get yourself to Munsu Stadium (not too far from the river bike paths). Behind the stadium you’ll want to follow signs for Route 14 to Deokha. This will lead you along a quiet road that skirts a river, eventually crossing some railway tracks where you’ll turn right and then straight through the intersection.

The road will lead you to Route 14, which you’ll follow just for a short time, across a large river bridge, before turning left at the first set of traffic lights. Now you’re back on a quiet single-lane road which you’ll follow straight past Deoksin, along the river. Beyond Deokshin you’ll cross the river and follow the road Southeast to Jinha. Total trip around 30kms.

The path along the river near Deoksin

One of the small foot-bridges you'll cross on the route

 

 

Route D: Dudong Climbing Course

Link to map of the route / GPX file: Click here

 

This is a nice circuit that gets you out of the city, and also is a nice way to visit the Cheonjeonli and Bangudae petroglyphs (rock carvings). It also tops out at Waterpia – an outdoor waterpark.

From the end of the taehwa river bike path at Seonbaw (route A), follow Road 1025 as it climbs into the mountains. After around 6kms of steady climbing you’ll reach the Waterpia outdoor swimming pool and spa. From there continue along the road past Dudong, following signs for Road 35.

Rice paddies near Dudong

The road will bend around West and climb a long bridge, before you see a sign for “Petroglyphs in Cheonjeon-li”. Take this left turn, and you’re onto a single lane concrete track for the next 8kms.

The turnoff for the small road to the Petroglyphs

Lots of climbing here. You’ll reach the Petroglyphs, where there’s also a Café, and from here it’s back towards Eonyang along route 35. From Eonyang back to Ulsan you can follow the fairly well marked bike route, which sticks to backroads and farming lanes.

One of the 'Nong-ro' (farming lanes) that you'll follow back to Ulsan

 

 

Route E: Youngnam Alps Climbing Course

Link to map of the route / GPX file: Click here

This is quite an epic climb from Eonyang to the top of Ganwoljae, the shoulder between Shinbulsan and Gajisan. It includes a 700m ascent over 5kms, but also passes through some pretty forest, not to mention the views.

Getting out to Eonyang from the city isn’t too hard – once at the end of the riverside bike paths you’ll see these signposts:

These blue signs will lead you all the way to Eonyang

Follow these signs and the white bike signs on the road which’ll get you as far as Ulsan KTX Station mostly staying off the roads.

Just before the KTX station you’ll want to turn left at the sign for Yangsan (route 35). Soon you’ll see the Yeongnam Alps bike trail signs. You’ll follow these up the narrowing valley to the turnoff point.

The turnoff to the Ganwoljae climbing road. Not signposted very well

From here it’s 4.7km to the top, continuously uphill. The road is concreted all the way. I did it on a road bike, which was really tough. I’d recommend a mountain bike.

View from near the top, looking back down the road

View from the top of Ganwoljae

At the top there’s a café and shop, from where you can take a look at the reed fields before descending the other side. The road descends quite fast, and at times is unpaved. Take the left turn right after the café and then the right turn at the only other junction on the way down. This’ll take you down onto route 69, and after a bit of a climb you’ll be flying down the hill to Seoknamsa, a pretty temple halfway back to Eonyang.

Map of the route in Korean (from Naver)

 

In Ulsan, there are lots of bike clubs, but just two that I know of. One is with the OMK Bike shop. They organise a couple of trips a month, usually mountain biking on mountain roads or tracks. The other is Performer Racing Team, a team of road bikers who regularly enter races around the country. They’re based out of the Performer Bike shop near city hall.

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