Thinking about going hiking somewhere not too far from the Tokyo city centre? Want to find a hiking trail that is just right for your level? The Okutama area is rich in natural beauty and has many interesting things to see. From full-scale mountain climbing courses to casual hiking courses, why not enjoy the charm of the Okutama area to the fullest? Check out these Okutama hiking trails to explore Okutama Lake and the Mountains in the area.
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Why go hiking in Okutama?
The Okutama area is a mountainous region rich in nature located in western Tokyo. There are many mountains that are easy to climb even for beginners. Some of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan are also located in this area. Okutama, which shows different faces in spring, summer, autumn and winter, is popular as an area where day trips are possible.
Many of the mountains are not too difficult to climb, making it a suitable place for trekking and mountain climbing not only in spring and autumn, but also in summer and winter. Let us tell you more about trekking, mountain climbing and hiking in the Okutama area, for people of all levels and experiences.
What is Okutama?
Okutama is a mountainous area rich in nature located on the west side of Tokyo. It is easily accessible from the center of Tokyo, and is a bustling place with many climbers and hikers. The rich nature of the Okutama area is a must for outdoor enthusiasts, with campgrounds and other facilities where visitors can enjoy a variety of activities that take advantage of the natural surroundings.
Okutama, which shows various faces in spring, summer, fall, and winter, has three mountains called “Okutama Sanzan (Three Mountains of Okutama). Many climbers traverse these three mountains, and because they are relatively easy to walk, beginner climbers can also take on the challenge.
3 Popular hiking courses in Okutama
Credit: Guilhem Vellut
In Okutama, popular courses have been established for hiking and trekking that are different from mountain climbing. The difficulty level is low, so you can easily enjoy trekking with a map in hand.
Here, let us tell you about the three popular hiking and trekking courses in Okutama. When going on these courses, make sure to check and carry a map along with you.
1. Ootama Walking Course
Credit: Guilhem Vellut
The first hiking course that allows visitors to fully enjoy the nature of Okutama is the Ootama Walking Course, which takes hikers from JR Kori Station to the heart of Okutama Town.
Along the course, there are many places to enjoy nature, such as the Hatonosu Bridge and Canyon, Shinomaru Dam, and Kazuma Gorge, which is especially beautiful when backdropped by autumn foliage.
The hiking distance is 8 km and the time required is 2 hours and 30 minutes. This is a popular hiking course that can be done as a day trip. There are several resting facilities along the way, so you can walk with peace of mind. A map is helpful to know where you are at each point, so it is recommended to grab one at Kori Station.
2. Okutama Mukashi Michi Hiking Course
The second hiking course that allows visitors to fully enjoy the nature of Okutama is the Okutama Mukashi Michi Hiking Course.
The course is set up to hike from JR Okutama Station, the starting point of this course, to Okutama Lake. The distance of the hiking course is 9 kilometers.
The time required is 4 hours. Walking along the river flowing into Lake Okutama, you will see many incredible spots such as Fudo Falls, Oku-Hikawa Shrine, and countless iroha maple trees. You will also cross two suspension bridges over the valley. It is truly a hiking course steeped in nature.
3. Okutama Fureai Forest Course
The Fureai Forest course is a hiking course that allows visitors to fully enjoy the nature of Okutama.
The starting point of this hiking course is JR Okutama Station. The course is set for hiking through a cedar forest, which will refresh you from the stresses of daily life through forest bathing. By walking with a map in hand, you will not get lost and you can find the points marked on the map.
From the road next to the Okutama Town Hall, you will walk along the Nippara River and enter the cedar forest. There is a suspension bridge along the way, which will double the fun. You will then be able to return to Okutama Station, the starting point of the tour.
6 trekking courses in Okutama
Okutama is a good place for mountain climbing and trekking hiking. There are many mountains that can be easily climbed even by beginners, so we will introduce several popular mountains in Okutama for people of all levels.
1. Mt. Kumotori-yama
Credit: Peak Master
Mt-Kumotori-yama, the highest peak in Tokyo, is one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, located in the Okutama area. Many climbers visit this mountain throughout the year as a weekend day-trip mountain.
Although the elevation varies from 600 meters to 2,000 meters, the trails are easy to walk and beginners can enjoy climbing the mountain. A popular course is a circuitous walk from the Omatsuri bus stop to the Kamosawa bus stop.
Elevation: 2017 meters
Course Tam: 5 hours 30 minutes ascent, 4 hours descent
Best season for climbing: April to December (all seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter)
Mt. Kumotori route:
Kamozawa bus stop→Buna-zaka slope→Undori Okutama hut→Kumotori summit
The course passes through a beautiful beech forest, and there is a water station at the Kumotori-Okutama Hut. It takes 50 minutes from the Kumotori Okutama Hut to the summit. The trail is lined with larch and other trees, and the scenery is breathtaking. The summit of Mt. Kumotori offers a wide open field of view, so please enjoy the panoramic view of Okutama.
Mt. Kumotori access:
By car: Ken-O Expressway Hinode Interchange→Route 411→42 km to Gozan Forest Road→2 km to Katakura Bridge gate.
By train: Shinjuku → Okutama Station → Kamozawa (From Okutama Station, take the Nishi-Tokyo Bus bound for Oku 09 Kamozawa Nishi or Oku 10 Tanba, and get off at Kamozawa bus stop. 34 minutes ride)
2. Mt. Mitake
Mt. Mitake is a popular one-day mountain that is easy for beginners to climb. By using the Mitake Cable Car, you can shorten your hiking trip and still enjoy the nature on display. The short walking distance also means that you can spend a relaxing time at the top of the mountain.
For those who prefer to reach the summit by hiking, there is also a course that starts from TsuruTsuru Hot Spring. This course also has a relatively gentle and stable trail, making it possible for beginners to enjoy a day trip up the mountain.
Elevation: 929 meters
Course Tam: 25 minutes uphill, 25 minutes downhill (using cable car)
Difficulty: For beginners and families
Best time to climb: April, May (spring to summer), October, November, December (fall to winter)
Credit: Otama Tourism Federation
Mt. Mitake route:
Takimoto Station→Mountain Summit Station→Mountain Summit
The cable car station is Takimoto Station. Once you get off the cable car, you will see a spectacular view to the east, so please enjoy the scenery as well. The climb to the summit takes only 25 minutes. You may want to stop by the Mt. Ontake Visitor Center on the way up. Ontake Shrine stands at the summit, showing the mountain as a place of worship.
Mt. Mitake access by car:
From Chuo Expressway: Approximately 60 minutes from Hachioji I.C. via Route 411 and Metropolitan Expressway
From Ken-O Expressway: Approximately 40 minutes from Ome I.C. via Route 411 and Metropolitan Expressway
From Hinode I.C. via Route 411 and Metropolitan Expressway: Approximately 30 minutes
By train, the nearest station is Mitake Station on the JR Ome Line. From there, take the Nishi-Tokyo Bus at the bus stop Mitake Station and get off at the last stop “Cable Car Bus Stop”, which will take about 10 minutes. From the bus stop, walk up the slope to Takimoto Station on the Mitake Tozan Railway, which takes about 5 minutes.
3. Mt. Odake
Credit: Hiking in Japan
Mt. Odake is a mountain in the Okutama area where even beginners can enjoy a one-day climb with a low degree of difficulty. It is characterised by a relatively gentle slope and an easy walking course.
Like Mt. Mitake, the cable car can be used to ascend the mountain, which is great for people that don’t want to hike a lot. It is also possible to combine the climb with Mt. Mitake, and the area is crowded with many climbers and trekkers. It is one of the most popular mountains in the Okutama area, and is recommended as a first climb for beginners.
Altitude: 1267 meters
Course Tam: 65 minutes ascent, 50 minutes descent (via Mitakeyama by Mitake Cable Car) Difficulty: For beginners and families
Best time to climb: April, May (from spring to summer), October, November, December (from fall to winter)
Mt. Odake route:
Takimoto Station→Mountain Summit Station→Mountain Summit→Akuba Pass→Mountain Summit
After passing the summit of Mt. Mitake, you will see the stream of Nanashiro Falls while aiming for the top of the mountain. It takes about one hour to reach Akuba Pass. After passing Akuba Pass, it takes about 40 minutes to reach the summit of Mt. Otake, which has a good view and you can enjoy the rich natural scenery of Okutama.
Mt. Odake access:
From Mitake Station, take the Nishi-Tokyo Bus from the bus stop on the left after exiting the station and get off at the cable car station (Takimoto Station).
4. Mt. Kawanori
Mt. Kawanori is a mountain in the Okutama area where even beginners can enjoy one-day climbing and trekking. Kawakoriyama has a very beautiful waterfall called “Hyakuhiro Falls.
Many people come here to see the waterfall, making it a popular destination for trekkers. There is a course starting from Kawanoribashi bus stop and ending at Hatonosu Station, but it takes more than 6 hours, so for beginners, a round trip from Kawanoribashi to the top of the mountain is recommended. The mountain is also worth trekking just to enjoy the Hyakuhiro Falls on the way up.
Altitude: 1363 meters
Course Tam: 3 hours 40 minutes uphill, 3 hours downhill (from Kawanoribashi Bridge to the summit)
Difficulty: For beginners
Best time to climb: April, May (spring to summer), October, November, December (fall to winter)
Mt. Kawanori route:
Mt. Kawanori bus stop→Hosokura bridge→Hyakujonotaki waterfall→Kawakoriyama summit
After getting off at Kawanoribashi bus stop, walk along a relatively gentle trail. There is a restroom on the way, but the path is only paved until the restroom, after which it turns into a mountain trail. After passing the restrooms, there are spots where you can enjoy the fresh greenery in spring and summer and the autumn leaves in fall and winter.
After passing Hosokura Bridge, it takes about 50 minutes to reach Hyakuhiro Falls. If you are a beginner and are not confident about your physical strength, it is a good idea to turn around at Hyakuhiro Falls. After passing Hyakuhiro Falls, it will take about two hours to reach the summit.
The slope becomes steeper and steeper, so do not be in a hurry and walk at your own pace. At the summit, there is a good vantage point from which you can look out over Okutama, so please enjoy the view.
Mt. Kawanori access:
Take the Nishi-Tokyo Bus from JR Okutama Station and get off at Kawanoribashi. The bus ride takes about 13 minutes.
5. Mt. Mito 三頭山
Straddling Tokyo and Yamanashi Prefectures, Mt. Mito is named for its three peaks. “Mito” (三頭) literally means “three heads”.
The most attractive feature of Mt. Mikashira is its magnificent beech forests. Because of its relatively low elevation, visitors can enjoy a pleasant walk through the beech forest even on a day hike. The level of difficulty is low and recommended for beginners.
Elevation: 1531 meters
Course Tam: Tomin-no Mori→1 hour 55 minutes uphill, 1 hour 20 minutes downhill, Nakanodaira bus stop→3 hours 50 minutes uphill, 2 hours 20 minutes downhill
Best time to climb: April, May, October, November
Mt. Mito route:
For the course starting from the Tomin-no-mori (Tomin-no-mori forest), which has a short course time, you can park your car at the Tomin-no-mori. For the course starting from the Saikuchi Pass, you can park your car at the Saikuchi Pass. If you start the climb from the Tomin-no-mori forest, which has a short course time, you can park your car in the Tomin-no-mori forest.
It takes 30 minutes from Tomin-no-mori to Saikuchi-Toge. The trail continues on a steep slope, so it is recommended to walk slowly and watch your step. After passing Saikuchi Pass, you will enter an area with a vast forest of beech trees. This is a must-see because there are no other beech forests like this in Tokyo.
There is a hut on the way to the summit, so take a rest here and aim for the summit. The time required from here to the summit is 1 hour and 25 minutes. The course is short and steep, so beginners are advised to pace themselves accordingly.
Mt. Mito access:
From the Uenohara IC of the Chuo Expressway via the Koubu Tunnel: 30 km (45 minutes)
From Okutama Lake via the Okutama Loop Road: 20 km (30 minutes)
From the Hinode IC of the Ken-O Expressway via the Itsukaichi Expressway: 37 km (60 minutes)
From the Akiruno IC of the Ken-O Expressway: 37 km via the Itsukaichi Expressway (60 minutes)
6. Mt. Gozen
Mt. Gozen, a mountain located in Okutama, is one of the three mountains of Okutama.
Mt. Gozen has a very beautiful silhouette that is instantly recognisable when viewed from other mountains, making it a popular mountain among climbers. Mt. Gozen is also characterised by the variety of mountain climbing courses that are available, including courses for beginners as well as for casual trekking.
In spring, beautiful katakuris flowers bloom at the summit of the mountain, making it a scenic spot. In summer, the contrast between the green mountain surface and the shining blue of Lake Okutama is wonderful.
Altitude: 1405 meters
Course Tam: Okutama bus stop→ Ascent: 3 hours, descent: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Best time to climb: April and May (spring and summer), October, November and December (fall and winter)
Mt. Gozen route:
There are two different routes up Mt. Gozen, one starting at the Okutama bus stop and the other finishing at Sakaihashi bus stop.
You can start climbing the mountain while walking along the shore of Lake Okutama. The lakeside of Lake Okutama is an ideal course for trekking. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes from the Okutama bus stop to Sasusawa. There are some steep climbs, so it is recommended to walk at a steady pace. It takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes to reach the summit from Sasusasawa.
Mt. Gozen access:
To get to the trailhead of Mt. Gozen, take a bus from Okutama Station to the Okutama-ko bus stop and return to Okutama Station from the Sakai-bashi bus stop after descending the mountain.
Which of these hiking adventures will you be going on? Many of the mountains have almost no snowfall even in winter, so you can hike here all throughout the year! We hope you try out one or more of these hiking trails and enjoy your time exploring the ins and outs of Okutama.