Long known as one of Asia’s top winter playgrounds, Hakuba is more than just a ski destination. As the snow melts and spring arrives, when even the mogul skiers have stored their skis, hikers begin to gaze at Hakuba’s peaks, looking for their next adventure.

Found in the Ushiro Tateyama mountain range of the Japanese Northern Alps, Hakuba is blessed with some of the most beautiful mountain scenery, crystal clear lakes, and hiking trails in the country.

The three iconic peaks that tower over the Hakuba Mura – Shiroumadake (2,932m), Shakushidake (2,812m), and Hakuba Yarigatake (2,903m) make for some of the most spectacular hiking in Japan.

A series of trails and huts maintained by the local government are well-marked and offer a multitude of hikes, including half-day hikes, full-day hikes, and multi-day hikes. Whether hiking with your kids or planning to heading out solo, we will show you where to hike in Hakuba.

Where to Hike in Hakuba

Here are our top 5 recommended hikes in Hakuba.

1. Best Multi-Day Hike – Tsugaike to Mt. Shirouma Hike
2. Best Half-Day Hike – Happo Pond Hike
3. Best Family Hike – Tsugaike National Park
4. Best Onsen Hike – Yari Onsen Hike
5. Best Autumn Hike – Jiigatake

1) Best Multi-Day Hike – Tsugaike to Mt. Shirouma Hike

Route Details

Length: 2 days (13 hrs hiking)
Total Elevation Gains: 1,148m
Total Elevation Losses: 1,758m
Route Type: One Way
When to Hike: Mid-July to Mid-September

Tsugaike to Mt. Shirouma Hike, Hakuba

Tsugaike to Mt. Shirouma Hike


The Tsugaike to Shirouma hike is a popular two-day, one-night hike that starts from the Tsugaike Nature Park.

Day One (8 hours +1148m, -56m)

From the Tsugaike ski resort base, you ride the gondola and ropeway lifts to the Nature Park, where your hike will begin. Be sure to fill out the required trekking safety form at either the base of the gondola or the park entrance. The first leg of your trek is a 4-hour hike that takes you to the peak of Mt. Norikura and then down to Hakuba Oike (Hakuba Large Pond). The first section is a steep 600m climb up a series of stairs and natural features. As you reach the top of Norikura you will descend 50m through rocky terrain towards Hakuba Oike. Here you will find a hut and campground.

The second leg of the journey will take you over Mt. Korenge to Mt. Shirouma (Hakuba’s highest peak). Traversing the ridgeline, you will experience some of Hakuba’s most spectacular views. You finish your day at Hakuba San So or Hakuba-dake Chojo-syukusha huts. There is also a campground available for those hikers who don’t mind spending the night in a tent. Hakuba San So offers meal plans as well as beer on tap. See the Planning Your Hakuba Hike for more details.

Day Two (5 hours -1758m)

You start day two bright and early, heading down Daisekke, the Ice flow below Shirouma. If you don’t have crampons, they can be rented from the hut before you leave. The hike down the valley offers some exceptional views and beautiful scenery. The trail is well marked and maintained daily by the local mountain guides. The stairs below the hut are relatively easy to descend, but the hike becomes more challenging as you reach the outcrop above the ice flow. This area is steep and can be slippery in inclement weather. (My boys have hiked this section as young as 6/7 and navigated the descent with “relative” ease). Using your crampons, you will hike down the ice flow to its base. Stay alert as the area is known for spalling and rockfalls (keep to the middle and your ears open). Depending on the season and the amount of snow left, you may have to navigate the lateral moraines on the valley walls to reach the trail at the bottom. The final section of the hike is a gentle downhill trail to the Sarukura hut at the base. If you rented crampons, drop them off before you take the local shuttle back to town.

2) Best Half-Day Hike – Happo Pond Hike

Route Details

Length: 3 hrs
Elevation Gain: 230m
Elevation Loss: 230m
Route Type: Return
When to Hike: July to November

Happo Pond Hike, Hakuba

Happo Pond Hike


Happo Ike (pond) is one of Hakuba’s most popular day hikes. The pond is a picturesque mountain retreat above the Happo One Ski resort and a favorite among Japanese tourists. The hike is only 2.5 kilometers but can be easily combined with other hiking trails in the area if you want to extend it into a full-day or multi-day adventure.

From the base of Happo, you will take three lifts – the Adam gondola, the Alpine Quad lift, and the Grat Lift, to the very top of the ski resort. Your hike starts at Happo Ike San So. You will head up towards Mt. Karamatsu and the pond via the trail and boardwalks. The route is well traveled, and the footpath is easy to identify. The hike is relatively moderate, with an elevation gain of 250m. (local school kids hike this route as one of their annual activities.)

When you reach the pond, you will find several sittings areas and a small shrine where you can take in the mountain vistas. After enjoying some green tea and a rice ball, you can head back down to the lifts following the same route. For those looking to take on a challenge, you can continue above the pond to Mt. Karamatsu (2.5 hours). Here you will find a hut and additional routes heading north and south along the ridgelines.

3) Best Family Hike – Tsugaike National Park

Route Details

Length: 3.5hrs (Shorter Loops Available)
Route Type: Loop
When to Hike: July – November

Tsugaike National Park hike, Hakuba

Tsugaike National Park hike


If you have little ones in tow and want a family-friendly, nature-filled hike, the Tsugaike Nature Park has a lovely boardwalk that will do the trick. Families will love the pleasant paths that are easy on tiny legs.
Taking the gondola and ropeway from the base of Tsugaike ski resort, you will find yourself a short walk from the national park entrance. After paying a small entry fee, you can head along the 5.5km route that offers a relaxing stroll around the Tsugaike highlands.

The marshlands have two large plateaus, each with boardwalks that loop around their perimeters. To access the second plateau, head to the south end of the first loop and cross the small valley and stream (well marked). The decked viewing area at the south end of the second loop is a favorite lookout spot for Japanese Tourists, especially in the autumn when the fall foliage is in full color.

When you return to the park entrance, stop by the visitor center. There are a plethora of kid’s activities and even a climbing wall. Before heading back down we usually stop at Tsugaike Hutte just outside the park entrance for a bite to eat and an ice cream.

4) Best Onsen Hike – Yari Onsen Hike

Route Details

Length: 2 days (9 hrs hiking)
Elevation Gain: 870m
Elevation Loss: 870m
Route Type: Return
When to Hike: Mid-July to Mid-September

Yari Onsen, Hakuba

Yari Onsen hike


If you’re like me, you love to take an onsen after a long day in the mountains. But why wait until you are back home? Why not hike to Japan’s highest natural onsen and spend the night?

The trek starts from the Sarukura Hut, where you take the gravel trail towards Daisekke. Just above the trailhead, you will see signage for Yari Onsen; cut left off the path. The first part of the hike is relatively mellow as you travel up the valley. However, the last hour of the hike is quite steep, with several heart-pounding traverses. The onsen at the end of your hike is well worth the effort. Your day ends rejuvenating tired muscles as you immerse yourself in the natural onsen while enjoying views of the valley below. If you have time, there are a few other small pools to dip into as well.

The large shared outdoor onsen is very hot. It is reserved for women only, between 20:00 and 21:00. The Yari Onen hut, much of which is dismantled and rebuilt each year due to snow, sleeps 100 people. If you would prefer to camp, there is a large tenting area. After enjoying a night in the mountains, take one last morning soak in the onsen before the 4-hour trek back to Sarukura.

5) Best Autumn Hike – Jiigatake

Route Details

Length: 6 hrs
Elevation: 1,320m
Route Type: Return
When to Hike: Mid-July – Mid-September

Jiigatake hike, Hakuba

Jiigatake hike


Jiigatake is a beautiful 2,670m mountain found at the very south end of the Hakuba Valley. Hiking Jiigatake in the autumn is a family favorite. The autumn foliage, expansive views, and relatively moderate hike make for a great end to the hiking season.

The trailhead is next to the Ogisawa Information Center, a 20-minute drive from downtown Omachi. There is a parking area, but it can be jam-packed on weekends and holidays, so I recommend getting there early. The entrance to the trail is located just before the bridge and is well marked. The hike follows a ridgeline that leads to a saddle just below Mt. Jiigatake.

There are two mountain huts, Taneike San So and Tsumetaike San So. Taneike San So even serves pizza if you get there before 13:00. The huts are a popular option for hikers spending the night on Jiigatake as they provide bunk beds, meals, and other amenities. However, the hike up and back down can easily be done in one day.

Tsumetaike San So is the larger of the two huts, with room for up to 60 people. Taneike San So is smaller, with room for only 30 people. As with the parking lot, the huts can be crowded during peak times. I recommend booking in advance.

The views from the top of Jiigatake are hard to beat, and I have taken some spectacular photos of clouds rolling over the ridges in the area, and of course, the kids love the pizza. After a night on the mountain, you will hike back to your car following the same route.

Planning Your Hakuba Hike

How To Book Mountain Huts

The huts in Hakuba can be booked through a few different channels; most require some Japanese. I would recommend the Hakuba Mountain Hut reservation website with Google translate.

Online Website: Hakuba San-So
Phone: 0261-72-2002 If
Tsugaike Hutte Phone: 0261-83-3136

Hiking Trail Map

The following map shows all the different routes in Hakuba, their estimated times, and the huts. This map is great for planning but can be misleading as some of these routes can be quite technical. Be sure to do more research before heading out on your hike.

Hakuba hiking routes

Hakuba hiking routes. Click to enlarge


When Should I hike in Hakuba?

The best time to hike in Hakuba is from late April to early November. Hiking in the winter can be dangerous due to avalanche danger and the hiking trails being covered in snow.

Are There Busses in Hakuba?

Yes, local buses run both winter and summer in Hakuba. Many bus routes will take you directly to trailheads for many of the major hikes in Hakuba.

Do I need a permit to hike in Hakuba?

No, you do not need a permit to hike in Hakuba. However, some routes require you to fill out a hiking itinerary form before hiking. Forms are available at the Happo Gondola, Tsugaike Gondola, or online.

Is Hiking safe in Hakuba?

Yes, hiking is generally safe in Hakuba. However, as with any outdoor activity, some risks are involved. Check the weather forecast before heading out, and be aware of your surroundings while on the trail. If you are hiking in the backcountry, always hike with a partner and let someone know your itinerary (Consider using Yamap for tracking and reporting your location through email)

What should I bring on a hike in Hakuba?

Be sure to bring enough food and water for your hike. Hiking in Hakuba can be strenuous, so it is essential to stay hydrated and fueled. Also, be sure to bring a map and compass, and know how to use them. Hiking boots, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are also recommended.

Check the weather forecast before heading out and dress accordingly. Layering is always a good idea as the weather can change quickly in the mountains.

How challenging are the hikes in Hakuba?

Hiking difficulty in Hakuba valley ranges from easy walks to more strenuous multi-day backpacking and mountaineering trips. Be sure to pick a hike appropriate for your fitness level and hiking experience.

Final Thoughts

Hiking is a great way to experience the beauty of Hakuba. There are many hiking trails to choose from, so there is something for everyone. Be sure to plan ahead and pick a hike that is right for you. Choose Hakuba as your next hiking destination and enjoy the stunning scenery of the Northern Japanese Alps.

See you on the trail!