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Trace the lives of ancestors on Garam-trail

Metasequoia in Damyang trail (Photo: Korea Tourism Organization)

Easy and effective exercise, walking is attracting more and more people in Korea these days. Korean people want to release stress from work and maintain their health by walking on a peaceful trail. Reflecting the new travel trend, the Korean government is trying to create more walking trails for people. Among them are the Garam trails which are located around the four rivers: Han River, Geum River, Nakdong River, and Yeongsan River, where the history, culture, and natural beauty of Korea flourish.

The word ‘Garam’ means river in archaic Korean language. The rivers played an important role in the development of human life since villages formed around the rivers, allowin civilization to flourish in ancient times. That means walking on the Garam trails is not simply a means of exercise but a cultural and historical trip to trace back the paths of ancestors. There are currently 17 Garam trail routes in total, including four around Han River, three at Geum River, six at Nakdong River, and six around Yeongsan River and Seomjin River. Each route offers unique features.

The Damyang trail located around the upper Yeongsan River is 10.8 kilometers long. You can take in great views along the river and the trail which is shaded by the leaves from rows of trees on either side. The Damyang trail starts from Gwanbangjaerim, a forest designated as natural monument no. 366 due to its large amount of huge trees over 200 years old. The forest was created during the Joseon Dynasty to control the Damyang Stream flowing in from the top of the Yeongsan.

At the far end of the forest you can find the start of the Metasequoia trail, in which a number of movies and dramas have been shot. The trail affords different features in accordance with the seasons. The green leaves falling from the huge trees provide freshness during summer while the leaves are covered with white snow in winter. After crossing over Geumwol Bridge, the return route offers a view of the metasequoia trees and the river from the opposite side. Travelers can expect to encounter Juknokwon on the route where several kinds of bamboo have been planted in a forest over 165,000 square meters. There are various bamboo trails, each with a different theme, within the Juknokwon such as Great Fortune, Old Friendship, Everlasting Love, and so on. At the final destination, travelers can find streets of noodle restaurants at the end of the trail. Bamboo merchants used to eat the noodles there and the price is relatively cheap.

Hweoryongpo located in Gyeongsang province (Photo: Korea Tourism Organization)

The Silver Sand trail in Gyeongsangbuk-do (Gyeongsang province) is unique in that the village is surrounded by the Naesung Stream which is a branch of the Nakdong River. The village neither looks like a complete island nor mainland. Hoeryongpo Village, designated national scenic beauty spot no. 16 in 2005, is called a small islet within land. The region became even more popular after the KBS program One Night and Two Days’ introduced it as a good place to travel. Biryong Mountain in the area tells a scary historic myth. During the Three Kingdoms era of Korea, there were frequent battles around the region. The fighting was so fierce that agonizing cries could be heard from down the hills on rainy days. The words Hoeryong and Biryong mean the “dragon going round the river to ascend to heaven.” The branch from the Nakdong River flowing in the curved lines and silver sand around the water makes the region a magnificent sight as well as a great opportunity to learn about the Korean history here.

By Lee Seung-ah Staff Writer

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