For a bike rider hoping to explore a new cycle track beyond the Hangang River, a bike pathway in Chuncheon, the capital of Gangwon Province, could be the perfect destination.
Spanning from Uiam Dam to Sinmae Bridge, the 30-kilometer-long bicycle road, which is flat and smooth, allows even beginners to enjoy their ride, offering the breathtaking scenery of Lake Uiam.
When you depart from Seoul, it takes one hour and 15 minutes from Yongsan Station to Chuncheon Station via the high-speed train ITX. A newcomer can get a map of the bike route at an information center near Exit 1 and borrow a bike from any of the several rental shops located within a five-minute walking distance.
Bike path in Chuncheon City (Chuncheon city office)
“It won’t be difficult to follow a bike lane even if you are new here. Just keep following the red line and stray out of the lane (for your safety),” said the owner of a rental shop, who showed a five-minute-long safety video before lending a bike.
After a five-minute ride from the station, the beautiful scenery of Lake Uiam comes into sight, along with a 7-meter-tall bronze statue of the Soyanggang Maid situated at the lake. If you are not a professional bike rider, a route from the Soyanggang Maid to the famed Skywalk can be an ideal itinerary. The two-hour course starts from the Soyanggang Maid going through Memorial Hall for Ethiopian Veterans in the Korean War, the Starlight festival, Songam Leports Town, Skywalk and turning back around.
The Soyanggang Maid
The 3-meter-wide and plain road -- and much less crowded than the pathway along the Hangang River -- is an ideal bike path even for beginners. Following the lane along the lake, observatories, air injectors, rest areas and convenient stores are available for the convenience of bike riders. A note of caution is riders should control their speed as the road is shared with pedestrians.
En route to Skywalk, many activities such as canoe and boat trips, fishing and climbing wall are available. If you borrow a bike for a whole day -- instead of hourly -- enjoying the activities along the way can also be an option.
Bike path in Chuncheon
The bike road, which levels out until Songam Leports Town, steadily climbs up coming close to Skywalk, although not too steeply. After a few minutes more of riding along the mountainside, a 180-meter-long bridge finally comes into view, offering the breathtaking scenery of Lake Uiam and Mount Samaksan.
At the center of the bridge, you can see the round, glass-bottom Skywalk protruding from the bridge, where a rider can take in the magnificent scenery with a thrill. Skywalk, which is 3 meters wide and suspended nearly 600 meters above the lake, is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bird’s eye view of Skywalk (Chuncheon city office)
“This is my first time here in Chuncheon. Although the facilities seem less convenient than the bike path near the Hangang River, the scenic view made me want to come here again,” said Lee Joo-eun, 33, who has been a member of one of the nation’s largest bike clubs “Biker club Nal” since 2013.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, more than 60,000 people visited Skywalk within 50 days since it first opened in March. Now, around 100 riders visit Chuncheon during weekdays and 300 on weekends.
“Currently, the 30-kilometer bike route ends at Sinmae Bridge but we are planning to extend the lane by an additional 15 kilometers to reach Chuncheon Dam by 2018,” said Hur Choon-gu, manager of the regional government’s road facility team.
“Another skywalk will also be set up near the Soyanggang Maid next year to draw more cycling visitors,” he said.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com