Kaikomagatake 2967m (甲斐駒ヶ岳) with it's famous "swords" is a beautiful and challenging hike in the Southern Alps. This post describes the trail from Ojiragawa Canyon with the Kuroto ridge. The route is very steep and one of Japan's steepest ridgelines (top 3). The hut is open year-round and camping is possible as well.
Time: 9:40min (Yamap estimate: 14:40min without breaks)
Elevation Gain: 2509m
Park your car at the trailhead but come early as the parking lot is small and there is also a waterfall and lots of daytrip cars. We got there at 6am in June and it was full. People after us had to park quite far away and walk along the road (our tent neighbor).
Public transportation access is a little annoying for the Kuroto ridge trailhead. There is no direct bus and you have to take a “mountain taxi” from the station. It only runs once a day and only from mid June to mid November and needs to be reserved the day before on their website. (There at 9:00 and back at 16:00; cost 1500¥ on weekdays/1800¥ holidays and weekend). Or take a normal taxi from Kobuchizawa Station.
Last option is to walk from the closest bus stop (michi no eki). We picked up our other tent neighbor and she was very happy (45min walk). This is the longest but cheapest option.
Start from the parking lot and walk towards the river and shrine. Walk through the shrine and cross the river with the bridge on the left.
Then follow the sign for Kaikoma. No English signs on this hike btw.
The first 3h through the forest are pretty steep and boring. Once you get onto the ridge it gets a bit more interesting and you have to climb some ladders and chain sections. There are not a lot of views until you get to the hut (took us 4:20min).
Once we got to the hut we dropped off our bags and set up the tent, then continued to the peak. After the hut the trail is a lot more beautiful with views and also more challenging with more ladders and steep chain sections. It’s nothing crazy but would definitely call “difficult”. If you're lucky you'll have views of Mt. Fuji, Yatsugatake, Kitadake and also Houou Sanzan.
From the peak it took us an hour back down to the campsite. Campsite is first come/first serve. There are two sections but they are both quite small, so if you come late you might be out of luck. By the afternoon both were packed and completely full. Sardine camping. (On the day we went one person couldn't squeeze their tent in anymore, I think she stayed at the hut in the end?)
Next day it took us 3h back down to the trailhead.
Lastly kaikoma is very popular for trail running and we ran part of it down as well. The trail doesn't have a lot of rocks in the forest part, which makes it really fun to run down. Running up I can't imagine. It's so steep.
Shichijo Goya: 10.500¥ to 12.000¥ depending on the day. Reservation required. Online reservation possible.
Tent 1500¥ per person, first come first serve.
Elevation Profile & Map
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