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Mt. Karamatsu, Mt. Goryu, & The Happo Pond

Elevation: 2696m



Routes Listed



4km - 17km

Elevation Gain

250m - 1600m


3 Hrs - 11 Hrs


Huts & Tents


Mt. Karamatsu is one of the most popular hikes in Hakuba thanks to the mirror-like reflections of the Happo Pond and the easy access provided by the Gondola. Two routes are summarised below, one that includes Mt. Karamatsu, and one for those who only wish to visit the pond which can be completed as an easy 2-3 hour round trip hike.

The hike up Mt. Karamatsu is mostly a ridgeline hike providing stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The terrain is well maintained and not technical, so it's a great option for beginners to experience hiking in the Alps. Note, the popularity means that the trail to Happo Pond is super crowded on weekends and holidays, so prepare yourself for touristy vibes if hiking on these days. It gets a bit better after the pond, but is still going to be quite busy, so if crowds bother you a lot then it's best to hike on a weekday. Planning for a weekday hike with good weather is well-worth it, the views and terrain are truly beautiful.

If you're looking for a nice 2-3 day hike, then including Mt. Goryu (pictured in the cover photo) is a great option.



If you're driving then you can skip the gondola and take two chair lifts instead by parking at this parking lot. If you're hiking on a weekend or holiday, this parking lot usually fills up by 6am.

Gondola & Chairlifts

The hike is typically done via the Happo Gondola and chairlift, which takes you up to 1800 meters of elevation. Here's a link for the timetable.

Return Ticket: ¥3300

One-way: ¥1900

Operating Period: June - November

Kyoto and Osaka

The cheapest option from Kyoto and Osaka is the highway bus which takes you all the way to Hakuba Station. It costs around ¥9000 and takes about 7 hours (+ 1:40 from Osaka). You can make reservations here. Alternatively, you can catch a combination of the shinkansen and local trains, us Google Maps to find the best options for trains.

Once you arrive at Hakuba station, a seperate bus will take you to the gondola, these bus times will be available on Google Maps. Or a taxi will cost under ¥2000.


The best option from Tokyo is the train that runs from Shinjuku Station, it costs about ¥8000 and takes 3 hours and 45mins to arrive at Hakuba, you can make reservations online or purchase them in person at the station. 

Weather  and  Seasons

The hiking season is from June to October, which also reflects the operating season for the mountain huts. Snow will hang around until June and begins falling again in mid-October. The summer weather is beautiful with a daytime temp about 10 degrees cooler than Tokyo. The autumn leaves reach their peak around the end of September and last until mid-October, which is also the busiest time of year.



The Karamatsu Mountain Hut is located only 20 minutes from the peak and is a nice option if you want to stay on the mountain. Although it's a little more expensive than most other mountain huts, the meals are nice and the location is perfect.

There are also tent sites which, depending on the site you get, are located a few minute's hike below the hut. Water seems a bit scarce at this hut so bring extra or prepare to pay a fair bit to refill your supply. (approx. ¥500/L)

The Goryu Mountain Hut is located 50 minutes from the peak of Mt. Goryu, but only 5 mins from the peak of Mt. Shiratake. I haven't stayed here yet, but the reviews seem quite good, the location looks beautiful, and the tent sites look nice.

Useful links

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The hikes


Trail Description

 Happo Pond  
Time: 2-3 Hours

Difficulty: 1/5

Distance: 4 km

Elev. Change:   ➘ 250m

GPS Map:

The hike to Happo Pond is an easy yet enjoyable trip that includes terrain such as boardwalks and large boulders. It starts by taking the Happo Gondola and then a chairlift that takes you all the way up to 1800m. If you have a car you can skip the gondola and just take a couple of chair lifts.

 Mt. Karamatsu 

Time: 7-8 Hours

Difficulty: 3/5

Distance: 11 km

Elev. Change:  ➚ ➘ 950m

GPS Map:

The hike up to Mt. Karamatsu can be completed as a day hike, or if you prefer starting later in the day it's a pleasent overnight hike using the Karamatsu Mountain Hut. Rooms are a bit more expensive than the usual mountain huts, and you'll have to pay for water, but the meals are nice and it's only 20 mins from the peak. There are also some tent sites, but it's worth noting these sites are located a 2-6 minute hike below the hut depending on which site you manage to get. 

mt karamatsu hike-10_edited.jpg

Chairlift → ⏲  1 Hour → Happo Pond → ⏲ 2 hrsKaramatsu Mountain Hut → ⏲ 20 mins → Mt. Karamatsu

 Mt. Karamatsu & Mt. Goryu 

Time: 11 Hours (2 Days)

Difficulty: 3/5

Distance: 17 km

Elev. Change:  ➚ 1600m ➘ 1900m

GPS Map:

Mt. Goryu is one of the Hyakumeizan and is often included with Mt. Karamatsu as part of a ridgeline traverse that can be completed over 2 days. It's a really fulfilling combination of mountains covering beautiful and diverse terrain. The hike can be completed in either direction and takes advantage of chairlifts at each end of the trail, it's most commonly done north-to-south starting at the Happo Gondola. The Goryu Mountain Hut is located 50 mins from the peak, so plan accordingly if you're aiming for the sunset or sunrise, or stay at the Karamatsu hut instead.


Once you descend back down the Hakuba Goryu Gondola, a shuttle bus can take you frome the gondola's plaza to Kamishiro Station - the bus runs everyday during summer and every weekend during autumn, I have not found any timetable online though.

Chairlift → ⏲  1 Hour → Happo Pond → ⏲ 2 hrsKaramatsu Mountain Hut → ⏲ 20 mins → Mt. Karamatsu

Mt. Karamatsu → ⏲  3 Hours → Mt. Goryu → ⏲ 50 mins → Mt. Goryu Hut → ⏲ 3hrs 15mins → Goryu Gondola

Elevation Profile

 Mt. Karamatsu 

karamatsu happo pond hike map.png

 Mt. Goryu 

karamatsu goryu hike .png



Altitude & Weather


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mt karamatsu happo pond-3_edited.jpg

Routes Listed: 3

Elev. gain: 250-1600m

Prefecture: Nagano

Time: 3-11 Hrs

Distance: 4-17 km

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