Best Road Climbs in Korea: Daetjae (댓재)

Is this the single best road climb in all of Korea? There is a certainly a case to made for it, and today I am leaning toward saying yes, it’s the best.

Daetjae is a category 1 climb located about 15km east of Samcheok. It starts out by rising up through some countryside residences and small farms before heading into the forests at gradients that rarely pitch overly steep. When they do pitch steep it is only for small distances through switchbacks, but quickly get back to much more pleasant 6-8% rises.

The climb itself is 10.5km long at an average of 7%, gaining a total of 709m and peaking at an altitude of 812m. The road conditions are overall quite good, and there isn’t overly much traffic to deal with. But above all, this is one of the most consistently gorgeous climbs I have ever done. The views are stunning, some looking out on the nearby mountain ranges and others looking back toward the coast. I rode it at sunrise, starting out of Samcheok at 5a.m., and doing the first few kilometers in the dark. But the dark, cold, and early start was well worth it because the sunrise was incredible.

It is my opinion that Samcheok, home to one of the newer annual gran fondos, is the single best place in Korea for cycling, as it has easy access to the coastal cycling path and to the Taebaek mountains to the east. The roads aren’t terribly busy here, and they all seem to wind through gorgeous river valleys. And there are the nearby climbs, the best of which is Daetjae. Here is the route that I did, which I would highly recommend to anyone.

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