It’s impossible to describe the myriad trails within this great park. The traditional course runs east to west (Daewon-sa to Hwaeom-sa), which experienced hikers can complete in three days. Travellers from Busan and Gyeongsangnam-do often begin their journey via Ssanggye-sa, which is close to a bus stop, budget motels and restaurants. Infrequent direct buses depart from Busan; otherwise travel to Hadong and catch a bus to the temple.
A three-night route puts hikers in position for a sunrise view on top of Cheonwang-bong. The route starts with a night at the Nogodan shelter. The next two nights are spent at the Baemsagol camping ground and Jangteomok shelter. On the final day, follow the trail to Jungsan-ri and then catch a bus to Jinju or Busan. Most shelters require reservations, which usually need to be made 15 days in advance.
Travellers with less ambitious plans, but who still want to experience Jirisan’s beauty, hike to Buril Pokpo. Starting from Ssanggye-sa, the mildly challenging trail (2.4km each way, three hours return) winds through a forest along a rippling creek. About two-thirds along the way, just when you’ve noticed the sound of the creek has disappeared, the trail bursts onto an open field. At the foot of the falls, there’s a rocky pool where hikers meditate to regain their chi.