Since its establishment by Suh Myungsook, Jeju Olle has revolutionized tourism on Jeju Island.
The first was opened in September 2009 and the 21st course opened in November 2012 to make the total trail length 422km.
The trails promote low-impact tourism that celebrates culture and is environmentally sensitive, and destinations around the world are following suit.
What made Olle stand out from Korea’s established mountain and nature trails, says Ahn Eun Joo, Jeju Olle Trail general manager, is that they follow paths accessible to all. “They are not steep or isolated, but where nature, culture and people coexist.”
Striking a chord with walkers globally, Affiliated (“Sister” in Korean) and Friendship Trails were developed. Despite similarities, says Ahn, the Sister Trails are more important, being “blood related” and developed from scratch, “according to the philosophy of Jeju Olle.”
There are two Sister Trails currently, one in Gyeonggido on the Korean mainland, and the other in Kyushu, Japan. Both were developed in close partnership with Jeju Olle and share many of the same symbols and management practices.
Friendship Trails are, however, established trails which partnered with particular Olle courses: Jeju Olle Course 9 links with Lebanon Mountain Trail 21, for example. The other trails are in England, Switzerland (two), Canada and Australia. (Click here to read more about Jeju's friendship with Bibbulmun Track, Australia).
A seventh Friendship Trail is on the horizon in January in the form of the Jangchun Trail in China, and the number could become eight if a proposal from Aomori, Japan, is accepted. Ahn says eventually all 26 Olle courses (including legs) will have overseas friendships.
The Olle walkers themselves are the ultimate arbiters of which trails have the requisite “Olle spirit.” When reviewing trails they look for “Olle happiness” in not only trail users but also in the interaction and utmost respect for the environment and local residents.
“So, when building the trail, we avoid asphalting, find one already used by people for walking, and restore it using eco-friendly methods. Also, volunteers and local people build these trails together,” said Ahn, citing the monthly cleanups held and the “Jeju Olle Academy.”
To get involved visit jejuolle.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jeju Olle Foundation and Kyushu Olle opened this course in 2012 and it even shares the same horse logo, the ganse. The route follows the passage of Japan’s first recorded honeymoon, that of Sakamoto Ryoma (1836 – 1867), and passes springs, deep valleys, woodlands and Mt. Kirishima National Park.
Route 1 (Yangsu Station - Guksu Station) 13.8km
Route 2 (Guksu Station - Yangpyeong Market) 16.8km
The Jeju Olle Foundation opened its second Sister Trail, "Path of Water Sounds," in April 2013. The 30km route is divided into two paths which link old village, mountain and riverside trails. The brand image was jointly developed with the Jeju Olle Foundation.
This topsy-turvy route runs from St. Saphorin to Lutry, passing through the largest contiguous vineyard region in Switzerland boasting UNESCO-protected hillside terraces.
▲ The Zermatt Five Lakes Walk. Photo courtesy Jeffrey Pang
The Zermatt Five Lakes Walk
9km / Switzerland
Jeju Olle Course 6
The compelling Five Lakes Walk takes you from Blauherd to Sunnegga, passing five mountain lakes, the Matterhorn and beautiful alpine meadows.
▲ Cotswold Way (Stinchcombe Hill). Photo courtesy Maurice Pullin
Cotswold Way (Stinchcombe Hill)
UK / 5.5km
Jeju Olle Course 3
The Cotswold Way is a 102-mile route winding its way through rich wildflower meadows, shaded woodlands and quintessentially English sleepy villages.
▲ Bibbulmun Track.
Photo courtesy RST
Bibbulmun Track (Denmark to Albany)
85km / Australia
Jeju Olle Course 19
Part of a world-class 1,000km long-distance track in Western Australia, walkers can enjoy day-long treks and camping in timber shelters.
▲ The Bruce Trail. Photo courtesy Bruce Robert
The Bruce Trail (Hockley Valley plus the Tom East and Glen Cross side trails)
9.6km / Canada
Jeju Olle Course 2
Part of Canada's oldest and longest marked footpath — 890km with over 400kms of side trails — this provides the only continuous public access to the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
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