The fame of Lake Towada seems to overshadow Hakkoda. But if I get to choose my favorite autumn trip to date, this is it. Entire mountains covered in red foliage? The view from the ropeway was one of the most memorable I've seen. Budget:
Hike Date / Difficulty
- JPY12,000. JR Welcome Rail Pass 2020.
- JPY1,120. Bus, Aomori Station to Hakkoda Ropeway.
- This bus apparently was covered by the JR rail pass (not the welcome pass though).
- JPY1,250. Ropeway, one way up.
- JPY1,360. Bus, Sukayu Onsen to Shin-Aomori Station.
- JPY1,000. Onsen fee, Sukayu Onsen.
- JPY1,889. Accommodations, Smile Hotel Aomori.
(Elevation: 1,584m / 5,197ft)
When to Go
- October 19, 2020
- Difficulty: 2 out of 5.
- Route below is around 9.0kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲712m/ ▽1,123m
- PDF Map Link
- I did this as a "Osorezan, Hachimantai and Hakkoda" trip, with the detailed itinerary here.
- Buses seem to run from August til November. As it changes regularly, I recommend checking the schedule for the bus below.
- There are one or two hiking logs for the December-January period, and the ropeway boasts of winter snowshoe hikes, but avalanche may be a risk because, well, this is Aomori.
- As with other mountains, for this hike, do not look for Mt. Hakkoda - look for the highest peak which is called Odake (Mt. Ou?) in this case. This mountain range has ten (TEN!) peaks.
Bus Schedule: Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅) to Ropeway (ロープウエイ)・Sukayu-Onsen (酸ヶ湯温泉)Bus Schedule: Ropeway (ロープウエイ)・Sukayu-Onsen (酸ヶ湯温泉) to Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅)
- Trailheads. Two main trailheads, and they share the same bus route. Bus schedule here, look for "青森・八戸－奥入瀬・十和田湖（みずうみ号・おいらせ号）".
- Ropeway. A lot of tourists take a stroll at the top of the ropeway, but they do not go beyond the marshland.
- Bus, Shin-Aomori Station to Ropeway. JPY1,120, 62 minutes one way.
- Ropeway. JPY1,250 one way, JPY2,000 round trip. It starts at 9am, and ends 3:40pm (winter) or 4:20pm.
- Sukayu-onsen (酸ヶ湯温泉). The primary trailhead used particularly those with cars, or people staying in Sukayu Onsen.
- Bus, Shin-Aomori Station to Sukayu-onsen. JPY1,360, 73 minutes one way.
- There's a two day pass worth JPY5,000, which covers all bus stops from Aomori Station to Towada Lake, which means unlimited travel for those two days. For just Hakkoda Hike, this pass does not save any money, but if combined with Lake Towada as two daytrips, then it's at least JPY1000 savings. The pass can be bought at JR's office right next to the bus stop.
- Mountain huts.
- Paid. None.
- Free. 大岳ヒュッテ, which is about 20 minute hike up the summit. This hut smells awful!
- Camping: None.
- Bullet train to Aomori, stay the night in a hostel.
- 07:05am. Checked out of the hotel and started walking towards Aomori Station.
- 07:25am. I got in line, and there were about 20 people already there - on a weekday! This bus goes to the famous Lake Towada, but I see people in hiking gear too. For 2020, they will stop letting people in once the bus, though if there are enough "extra" people they'll have a second bus. Make sure to sit on the driver side to see the shadow of Mt. Iwaki at the viewing spot. The driver went slowly and stopped for about 2 seconds for us to enjoy the view (inside the bus)
- 08:30am. 10 minute restroom break. I took the time to take pictures of Hakkoda too.
- 08:48am. Arrived at the ropeway, with the bus ten minutes late (ETA was 08:39am). I went straight to the counter, where there is already a LONG line. Bought a one way ticket, cash only, and went to the line for the ropeway. The ropeway leaves every 15 minutes, and I wasn't able to get on the 9am one.
- 09:15am. Ropeway. This had a ridiculously gorgeous view, as it was in full autumn glory.
- 09:22am. Arrived at the top of the ropeway. The place was utterly crowded - I took the exit to the right. Upon exit, turned left, and there was a fork. There'll be plenty of these, so I made sure to check my route at the YAMAP app (leave a comment if you cannot figure it out). For this fork, I turned right.
- 09:34am. Another fork. I kept right.
- 09:46am. Another fork. Again, I kept right.
- 09:50am. Another fork. I made sure to read the sign (There's an English one too). The one going straight goes up the summit, the turn right goes to Sukayu-onsen. I kept straight. From here on, it was stairs made of wood straight to the ridge. Unfortunately, on my hike it was utterly cloudy and windy, and my windbreaker was a lifesaver.
- 10:19am. Arrived at the end of the ridge! There was a marker saying this was the top of Akakura-dake (赤倉岳), which did not match my map, but I figured the marker should be right. Facing the marker, the path to the right was a dead end, so I turned left.
- 10:32am. The marker was wrong. There's another marker representing the summit of Mt. Akakura, and this one matched with the map perfectly. There's some space behind the marker for the ladies (or gentlemen) who need some, er, alone time. I continued walking the ridge, and it was definitely a gorgeous one. Even if I couldn't see a thing.
- 10:42am. Arrived at Mt. Ido (井戸岳), took some pictures, and continued walking.
- 10:50am. Started descending down the ridge, which was a pretty steep descent, and windy!
- 10:57am. Arrived at the emergency hut. I was so excited for it, as I wanted to shelter from the wind. The moment I got it, I decided I'm ok with staying outside with the wind. It smelled awful! The restroom was inside the hut, and the entire hut smelled like the toilet! I had my breakfast/lunch - coffee and some snacks, on the benches right outside the shelter.
- 11:07am. Headed back to the trail going to the highest point - Odake (大岳).
- 11:28am. Arrived at the summit, where it was still cloudy, but there were moments when it would clear up.
- 11:36am. I was done waiting for the clouds to clear up, and satisfied with my pictures. I started heading down. Within 10 minutes the clouds have cleared and the rest of my hike down I was able to enjoy the view. The path down was not so steep, so it was a gentle descent.
- 12:11pm. Fork to Kodake (小岳). I decided to skip it and I kept right. I passed by the swamp with some benches and what was supposedly a water source, but I don't think anybody would want to drink that water. Near the area was a segue to a nearby free mountain hut, which did not smell, thankfully. I'm not sure it'll stay that way though, as the restroom is also inside the mountain hut. It was just a straightforward, gentle, and gorgeous (peak autumn in my case) stroll to Sukayu Onsen.
- 01:40pm. Arrived at the trailhead, which has a huge parking lot. I did not cross to the parking lot and just kept to the cemented pathway at the right. This leads to Sukayu Onsen. There were a couple of turns, I just kept right.
- 01:48pm. Arrived at Sukayu Onsen. There is a bus stop immediately to the right - that one is the bus stop going to Towada Lake. As I want to go back to Aomori Station, my bus stop is right across. Given I have an hour left before the 02:53pm bus, I decided to see this famous 1,000 person onsen. The entrance fee is JPY1,000 per person, inclusive of towel. The famous 1,000 person onsen is a mixed onsen, and the towel provided cannot be used in the water. They sell a specific, er, dress (?) that women can wear if they are shy - for merely JPY1,100.
- 02:53pm. Was the scheduled bus, but the bus came at 03:05pm, and left Sukayu Onsen at around 03:15pm.
- 04:20pm. Arrived at Shin-Aomori Station. The bus was 21 minutes late. Traffic was light, but for whatever reason the driver decided to wait 10 minutes in Sukayu Onsen, and get everybody late.
- 04:38pm. Bullet train, Shin-Aomori Station to Tokyo Station.
- 08:04pm. Tokyo Station. Almost home!
|At Aomori Station, take the East exit, turn left. The bus stop for Hakkoda is the bus going to Towada Lake. Bus stop 11. |
|This is the line on a normal weekday. WEEKDAY!|
|The bus stop where we had 10 minutes of restroom break. There is a store to buy some snacks and have some free tea. The store is closed on the way back. |
|I used the break to take some pictures of the mountain I'm visiting.|
|At the ropeway, I am greeted by the gorgeous autumn foliage. |
|Plus a long line for the ropeway. |
|Ropeway ticket. |
|I thought the view will not get better than this. |
|I was wrong. This view is definitely better. |
|At the end of the ropeway, I took the exit at the right. |
|And was welcomed with nothing but pure white views. |
|I turned left, was faced with this fork, and took the right turn. |
|The view, unfortunately, remained shrouded in mist. |
|I simply kept right. |
|And followed the map in YAMAP. |
|Some paths had planks too. |
|First round of stairs. |
|Next fork. I turned right. |
|Another fork. Turning right is a shortcut to Sukayu Onsen. As I wanted to summit, I continued straight. |
|It was just stairs til the ridge and the first summit. |
|Just more stairs...|
|First summit! Above SEE level. Haha. |
|I then walked at this ridge. VERY VERY windy ridge. |
|Arrived at a shrine, and continued on in my walk. |
|To see a marker for a summit I've supposedly summited. I guess this is the actual summit. |
|The clouds cleared for a second, enough for me to take a photo. |
|And then the clouds were back. |
|And stayed there. |
|This would have had been a gorgeous walk on a ridge. |
|Soon enough I was heading down. |
|I could see the silhouette of the free mountain hut. I was excited to have a couple of minutes' shelter from the wind. |
|I went inside and the place was clean and spacious. But it smelled like a mountain toilet, and that is not something that's easy to breathe in. |
|So I decided to take my break outside and just be ok with the strong, cold wind. |
|Soon enough I was back on the trail, following the trail sign for the highest point of the mountain, "大岳", (Odake) which means big mountain. |
|The trail had a marker saying it's dangerous, watch your step. |
|The first part of the ascent had plenty of shrubs. |
|I looked back and had a glimpse of where I came from. The mountain hut is nestled in between the two main peaks. |
|The latter half of the trail to Odake. |
|Here it is, the summit!|
|To the side is the view of the crater. The crater of this active volcano. |
|On my way down, the clouds stared clearing up. |
|And I had a clear view the rest of the way down. |
|The rocky trail down, with autumn foliage as my background. |
|Soon enough I was back with planks. |
|The fork - right goes to Sukayu Onsen, left goes to Kodake (子岳). I turned left, walked about 3 minutes to Kodake. The trail to Kodake was definitely not well used, and I decided I'd rather have sufficient time to do Sukayu Onsen, so I went back to the fork and took the path to Sukayu Onsen. |
|A water source on the way. I definitely will NOT drink any water from here though. |
|There's a bit of a segue to the mountain hut. |
|The mountain hut had these sticks, and I don't know what they are for. |
|There's gas and pots inside. Feels like a home!|
|And three floors of these "beds"|
|View from the outside. |
|Just one river crossing. |
|Beautiful way down. |
|with an ominous warning. |
|I still took the time to take pictures though. |
|This was a weird spot. Did this spot burn?|
|I enjoyed the autumn foliage the rest of the way.|
|Some people were taking a stroll too. |
|Exited the trail! Just follow this pathway for Sukayu Onsen. |
|A quick look back at the trailhead. |
|The path to Sukayu Onsen (and the bus stop). There are a couple of turns, but just keep right. |
|Sukayu Onsen! Boy, the backdrop of this onsen is the best I've seen in my stay in Japan. They are also famous for their Sen-nin buro, which means thousand person onsen (the onsen can accommodate a thousand people in one go. I went there, I don't believe it, sorry. Haha)|
|If I wanted to wear something in the mixed onsen,I had to pay an extra JPY1,100. I decided to just go in my birthday suit. |
|Haha. No comment. |
|The view of Hakkoda from the bus. This time I sat on the side of the driver to see it. |
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