Monday, September 24, 2012

Mt Usu-zan

Mt Usu-zan
Mt Usu-zan sits on the shore of lake Toya about 2 hours drive from Sapporo heading south near the Pacific Ocean.
Mt Usu-zan is an active volcano which has erupted 4 times in the 20th century, that last eruption being in 2000.

Mt Usu-zan #1 
Mt Usu-an #2 

There is only one hiking trail on Mt Usu-zan and it isn't that difficult. The hike to the peak can be done in under 1 hour & 20 minutes if you are in good shape and around 2 hours if you want to take your time.
The trail is well worn and well marked and looked after and can suit families with children over 7 years.

How to get there:
The place to start is Usu town (check Goggle Map below). This is a small town and can be reached by car or train.
You can catch a train from Sapporo, Chitose or Tomakomai.
How to get to the trail head:
From the train station it is best to catch a taxi which would be a 10 minute drive and cost about Y1,000 . You could walk which would take about 40 minutes (check Goggle Map below).
If you are going by car and you are heading north or south on route 37 and you are in Usu town  (check Goggle Map below) you want to look for a road sign on the mountain side of the road which say 'Mt Usu Trail'. The sign isn't that big and is blue & white. The sign can be easy to miss.
You follow the road that the sign is pointing down to about 4 km to you come to a highway overpass. Right before the overpass on your left is the car park. Do not drive under the overpass.

The Mt Usu-zan road sign
The car park with overpass in the background
The Mt Usu-zan car park.

The Trail Head:
At the car is a toilet but no running water so make sure you have to before you get there.
To reach the trail head you must walk under the overpass and up the road for about 200 meters.
To you come to the trail head which is well marked.

Walking under the underpass to the trail head
The trail head

The information sign at the trail head
The trail up is mark in green:
The Trail:
From the trail head you just follow the trail. The trail starts of easy, you go about 300 meters then you hit a road which is closed. you cross the road and hook up with the hiking trail again. The trail is marked with a sign so it easy to see.

The start of the trail
The sign when you cross the road

Once you cross the road you just keep following the trail which works its way into the trees and slowly starts to work it's way up. The trail goes up and down in places and there are a couple of stair sections (steps) and steep-ish climbs but nothing too serious.

The trail (one of the stair sections)
The trail
The trail (one of the steep-ish sections)
After about an hour you will climb out of the trees and come to a closed dirt road. At this point you can get a nice view of area below and the Pacific Ocean. Again you cross the dirt road and pick up the hiking trail again which is again marked and easy to see. From this point you have about 20 minutes to you reach the junction the outer rim boardwalk trail.

The dirt road

The view from the dirt road point
Where you pick up the hiking trail again
From this point on the trail really star,ts to open up and gets wider and easier .
to you reach the outer rim.

The trail to the top
The trail to the top
The top intersection
At the top junction the trail links onto the outer rim boardwalk trail which takes you to a couple of lookout points and the top observation deck (actually out rim boardwalk isn't a boardwalk at all and the name of the trail is misleading because the trail is just grass).
From the junction you can choose to go left or right. If you chose left this will take you to the Usu outer rim observation deck and rest/picnic area ( agan the name is misleading because it isn't a deck but an open grass area). From here you can get a good view of the Gin-numa Great Crater.  If you go to the wooden fence you can get a good view. This is a nice area to have lunch.

Usu outer rim observation deck
Usu outer rim observation deck
Add caption
Gin-numa Great Crater
Gin-numa Great Crater
Usu outer rim observation deck: great place for lunch

From the top junction and if you turn right and walk about 10 minutes, this will bring you to another rest area and another look out point and a toilet block. This is also another good spot to take a rest and have lunch. 

The 2nd rest area and toilet block
The 2nd rest area and toilet block
The lookout point at the 2nd rest area and toilet block
The lookout point at the 2nd rest area and toilet block
From the 2nd rest area it will take you around 30 minutes to reach the top and the 'Carter Basin Observation Deck' . The trail to the top observation deck consist of a group of long stair and which make for a steep climb. From the top observation deck you get a great view of the Gin-numa Great Crater.

The trail from the 2nd rest area to the to Observation Deck
The trail from the 2nd rest area to the to Observation Deck
The trail from the 2nd rest area to the to Observation Deck
The top Observation Deck
If you want to you can take a short 5 minute trail to the top gondola station where you can top up on water and there is a restaurant and shops and there is a lookout deck that give you a nice view of lake Toya

The hike out and down from the top observation deck should take you about an hour and 20 minutes back to the car park.

Hiking down and out
The end of the trail. from here is 5 minutes to car park

 The Sanroku gondola station:
The lookout point at the top gondola station
The easy way to get to the top observation deck is take the gondola from the Sanroku gondola station on the other side of Mt Usu-zan .If you want you can hike up Mt Usu-zan and then take the gondola down.
Link: Usu Gondola Offical Website:

Sanroku gondola station
Sanroku gondola station
Sanroku gondola
Mt Usu-zan is a great hike that is well worth doing. I hope you enjoy:
The bush Pig

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mt Kamui-dake

Mt Kamui-dake

Mt Kamui-dake is in the Sapporo and Jozankei area and the peak is a flat mass of rock that shows it’s rough face that sticks out through the trees and can been seen from miles around.
Mt Kamui-dake is just out of Sapporo and on the main road to the onsen town of Jozankei.
Mt Kamui-dake

This is great day hike and will offer something for everyone from beginner hiker to experience. For the beginner hiker this is a good hike to challenge you and to level up on and get more experience.
For the experience hiker this hike won't be such a challenge but you will still find in fun and will worth it and will give your legs and lungs a work out.

Mt Kamui-dake

You head out of Sapporo on route 230 which is the main road to onsen town of Jozankei.
It is not so easy to find the turn off to starting point. The turn off is a bridge on your right heading to Jozanki on a straight bit of road and 300 meters before you hit the first tunnel on that road. (If you hit a tunnel, you have gone too far and you need to turn around and go back about 300 meters and the bridge should be on your left) 
Go over the bridge and you will a dirt road. keep heading straight and you will see a small wooden shack on your right that is where you write your name, date, how many people and what time you will start the hike. On the way out you write down when you finished the hike.
After you have done all that keep heading straight to you come to the car park and the start point.
The dirt road at the start of the hike
The short cut trail
The main hiking trail
The hike starts off easy walking a long a dirt road then we meet and head on to the hiking trail. The trail slowly works it's way up through the trees and gets a bit steeper as you climb to the top. About 3/4 way to the peak we get to an open area called Ganbo-dai which takes you about two hours. Here the field of vision opens up and you start to get some nice views and you can see where we started from. From Ganbo-dai it is another hour to the peak. This hike a couple of short and not difficult rope sections to add alittle fun.
At peak we will have lunch and you can enjoy some nice views. From the peak we will hike down the same way we came up

The first rope section

The 3rd rope section near the top
Mountain Height: 983 meters

Area: Sapporo / Jozankei

Trip type : Day Hike


    Beginner hikers :    Medium to Hard
    Experience hikers : Easy to Medium

Trail open : May to October

Suitable for : Kids and Adults ( Kids over 12 years old )

Hiking time up : 3 hrs

Hiking time down : 2 hrs

The peak
The peak

 Side hike option:
about 10 minutes from the peak of Mt Kamui-dake is a side trail over to Mt Edoshi-dake.
This trail is about a 2 hour and 30 minute return hike. and has a steep decent and climb. The hike is hard and you get a great view looking down on Mt Kamui-dake but the peak is very disappointing and not worth to work to get over there.

The river at the start of the hike: July

The river at the start of the hike: early October

Public transport:Info coming soon

Goggle Map:
Mt Kamui-dake map