The loop from Hijiridake (聖岳) to Kamikochidake (上河内岳) to Chausudake (茶臼岳) is a strenuous overnight or multiday hike in the Southern Alps. It has lots of elevation gain but it's not technically difficult. This hike is perfect if you’re looking for stunning scenery and less crowds. Access to the trailhead is only possible by car and even then it's still quite remote with no big highways close by.
Time: 16:30 (Yamap estimate: 20:45h)
Elevation Gain: 3698m
Park your car at Shibasawa gate. Be aware that the road to the parking lot is one lane, curvy and in pretty bad condition. We also had 3 road closures and about 30min detour driving (as of summer 2023 you need to take the road behind Kamimura Elementary school)
The parking lot has 25-30 spots and they fill up quickly on the weekend. When we arrived at 5:30am it was full and we parked a bit before the official parking lot (maybe about 8 spots here) and then it's an extra 10min walk to the parking lot.
You used to be able to drive/take a taxi all the way to Seiko goya but the road was destroyed in a typhoon and judging from the damage I don't think it's gonna be fixed anytime soon (the whole hillside is gone)
This means you have to walk along the old road for 1:10h to get to the actual trailhead and Seiko goya.
In summer Seiko goya is open and also has a campground. To get an early start you could come the night before and set up camp.
To check on current road conditions to the Shibasawa Gate the blog of Seiko goya is useful. He usually mentions it when things change.
There is no public transportation access.
Day 1: 8:25min (incl 1h breaks), 2650m elevation gain, 1070m down, 17km
The first part of the hike is along the old forest road. The road is gone in one section but they installed a detour above and you can also go down to the river to bypass it. It's about 1:30h to the trailhead, walking along the valley, passing seiko goya (last toilet).
Shortly after the trailhead, you'll get to a little river crossing with a "carriage" to help you cross the river safely. I'm not sure if a single hiker could pull it, with two guys it was no problem to "pull" ourselves over. After that you climb straight up and it continues to be steep and through the forest almost all the way up to Mt. Hijiri. I found the way up a little monotonous until you get out to the ridge/ fork to Mt. Hijiri. We left our bags at the fork and continued on to the peak. Took us about 2:30h up and down back to the fork (we half ran down).
The trail to the peak is even steeper and has lots of small loose rocks/scree. The views are beautiful but I was pretty tired at this point. Had a quick break at the top, enjoyed the views of Akaishidake and then headed back down to get our bags and walk the last 20min to the hut.
We camped and the tent site is very spacious with a second seperate section to the left. This section has grass and was almost completely empty (also more bugs, but having grass under the tent was worth shaking off the bugs). Hijiridairagoya also has running water outside, so you can do a quick "catwash" as I like to call it. And flushing toilets (you have to take your used toiletpaper home, they provide plastic bags).
Lastly some picnic benches and space to eat outside. Overall a very nice campsite.
Day 2: 8h (40min breaks), 1045m elevation gain, 2625m down, 19km
On the second day you'll continue on the ridgeline passing Mt. Minami, Mt. Kamikochi and Mt. Chausu. It's a lot less elevation gain than day 1 but you're still constantly going up and down between the 3 peaks. Day 2 is also a lot more scenic and with good weather you'll have beautiful views of the southern alps and Mt. Fuji the whole time.
After enjoying the beautiful ridgeline the only issue is the 2600m you still have to walk down. Again, it is steep, long and the trail is full of rocks and roots and you'll need to watch your step. From the trailhead it's another hour back to the parking lot. Nexr to the second parking lot is a little access road down to the river and we had quick bath before driving back. Coming from the south there is sadly no Onsen.
Hijiridairagoya: Hut is 9000Y without meals. Check with them when making a reservation if they serve meals (they only served lunch when we went). Tent is 2000¥ per person. Reservation for both tent and hut needed.
You could turn this hike into three days by staying an extra night at Chausugoya.
Elevation Profile & Map
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