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Difficulty: 4/5

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Hiking Distance: 13km 

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Time: 2 days

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Elevation change: ➚1670m   ➘1670m

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Prefecture: Yamanashi

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Kitadake, Yamanashi

北岳

Elevation: 3,193m

Prefecture

Yamanashi

Distance

13 km

Elevation Change

➚ 1670m    ➘ 1670m

Time

2 Days

Difficulty

4/5

Accomodation

Huts & Campgrounds

Overview

Kitadake is the second highest mountain in Japan, with spectacular views of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding southern Alps. Access is via a 2 hour bus from Kofu station as no private cars are allowed on the road. The road is very mountainous with many potholes and winding corners, those with travel sickness may need to consider anti-nausea medicine. There are two mountain huts offering rooms and campsites near the peak, the closest one is Kita-no-koya (Kitadake Shoulder Hut) which is only 30 mins from the peak. The itinerary listed here describes a loop hike with some really cool terrain features off the main trail, which also helps to avoid the crowds for your return on the second day.

 

Some people like to extend their hike into multiple days to include the surrounding peaks. A common example is the Shirane Sanzan (Three White Peaks) which includes Ainodake (4th highest mountain) and Notoridake (15th highest mountain). The most common option is a 3 day hike including Ainodake, however, I do not recommend this option as the normal Kitadake hike is superior in terms of terrain and views.

Access

Car: Private vehicles are not allowed on the road so you will need to find parking in Kofu city and catch the bus from there.

Kyoto and Osaka: The cheapest option is a direct bus to Kofu Station from Kyoto and Osaka. You can view all the details and make reservations here. It takes over 7 hours and the price ranges from ¥6,000 to ¥9,000.

Tokyo: There is a train that runs all the way to Kofu from Shinjuku station. It takes about 90 mins and costs around ¥2500 for a non reserved seat.

Trailhead Bus: Once you arrive at Kofu station you will need to take a bus to the trailhead. It takes 2 hours and is quite a bumpy ride up winding mountain roads. It costs ¥2000, you can view the timetable here.

Trail Description

Maps

GPS map: Day 1  Day 2

Day 1

Hirogawara to Kitadake

GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com

Time: 7-8 hrs

Distance: 6.6km

Elevation change: ➚ 1660m gain    180m loss

From the bus stop at Hirogawara, walk up the road toward the bridge, cross the river and enter the campground where the trailhead is. This is also the best place to fill up with free water for the hike. After about 2 hours of climbing you'll reach the Shirane Oike mountain hut, this gives you more options if you want to plan a different itinerary. After another 2 hours you will reach the ridgeline and start to experience the incredible views of the southern alps. From here it's only another 2 hours to reach the Kitadake Shoulder Hut. Depending on your time and the weather, drop some of your gear off here and head up to the peak of Kitadake for the sunset. The peak is only 30-40 minutes from the mountain hut.

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Day 2

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Day 2

Kitadake to Hirogawara via the valley

GPS Hiking Map: outdooractive.com

Time: 7-8 hrs

Distance: 7.2km

Elevation change: ➚ 260m gain    1750m loss

For your second day, instead of returning down the standard out and back trail, it is much more enjoyable to hike around the peak and then down the valley. It doesn't add any extra time, includes much cooler terrain features, and is less steep so will be easier on your knees. I stumbled upon this detour while I was returning from the somewhat monotonous hike to Ainodake. It features a precarious (but safe) wooden boardwalk attached to rocky cliffs, some dramatic and steep rock formations, and large ladders for fun climbing. And if you are hiking on one of the holidays or the weekend, this will help you avoid the crowds.

Wake up early and catch the incredible sunrise from the peak, hopefully you got beautiful weather and can see Mt. Fuji. After enjoying the views head down the other side of Kitadake until you reach an intersection, the trail on the left will take you alongside the mountain where the boardwalk is located. Follow this trail down toward the small neighbouring peak where you will find the ladders and the valley. Climb up the small peak for some nice views and then head back down into the valley for your final journey to the bus stop. Check the GPS map linked above for reference.

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The Kitadake mountain hut

Elevation Profile

Kitadake hike elevation

Day 1Hirogawara to Kitadake

Day 2Kitadake to Hirogawara via the valley

Kitadake hike elevation

Weather  and  Seasons

Summer and autumn, from July to October, are the best time for this hike. There is likely to be snow hanging around until June, and starting again in October. The most amount of clouds and rainfall usually occurs in June and July. The autumn leaves will be colourful from mid-September to mid-October. 

Useful links

Cautions

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Altitude

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Monkeys

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Bears (rare)

Gallery

© Copyright
kitadake hiking trail

Difficulty: 4/5

Hiking Distance: 13 km

Time: 2 Days

Elevation gain: 1670m

Prefecture: Yamanashi

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