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Yakushima Traverse

 

The Yakushima Traverse is an incredible hike over rocky peaks and through the centuries old forest of Yakushima. You'll see a variety of terrain and scenery and also climb Kyushus highest peak Miyanoura. The traverse combines multiple of the famous trails including Jomonsugi and the Mononoke Forest. It also has an amazing shelter hut network which makes this hike perfect for shoulder season hiking or to escape the rain.

 
		
⏲︎	Time: 17hKanji: 屋久島縦走Location: YakushimaDistance: 23.7kmDifficulty: Intermediate Elevation Gain: 2627mMultidayHiking Season: March 
	to December
		




Access

Yakushima is accessible by ferry from Kagoshima or airplane.

Once you get to the island take the bus from Miyanoura port to Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine. The bus stop is right outside the ferry terminal and has 4 departures a day.


You'll finish the hike at Yodogawa Trailhead and can take the bus from Kigensugi Ceder back to Anbo (2 departures a day).



Trail description

Day 1: 2h, 2.6km, 393m elevation gain

Today is a short day and you can take the last bus from the port to the trailhead. Shiratani goya is quite big and a late arrival is no problem. The trail to the hut has 2 detours to see some of the big ceders, especially the second one to Sanbonasisugi is worth the 1.5h extra hiking time. Both detours meet up with the main trail and you don't have to backtrack.

This part of the forest is very humid and wet, right by the river. It's beautiful and you can definitely see how it inspired the famous ghibli movie.


Day 2: 6h, 9.2km, 1241m elevation gain

The second day starts with the famous moss forest and some beautiful forest trails. After about an hour you'll get to a detour for Taikoiwa which is the first open viewpoint of the traverse. If the weather is good you'll have clear views of the peaks around you.



Once you get out to the main trail to Jomonsugi it's going to be more busy and you'll see many dayhikers. The first part of the trail follows the trolley tracks. Stay in the middle of the tracks and move out of the way if a trolley should come along or faster people want to pass. It's easy to walk and less interesting until you get to Ohokabu trailhead.

The toilets here will be the last ones until you get to Takatsuka goya after Yomonsugi.


From now on the trail is over roots and more difficult and steeper again. On your way to Jomonsugi you'll also pass the famous Wilson stump with the iconic "heart" shape. This area is a good spot for a short break before you walk the last 1.5h to Jomonsugi.

After the famous Cedar the trail gets a lot more quiet as the majority of hikers turns back to Arakawa trailhead.


The next day is the longest on the traverse and it makes sense to keep walking to Shintakatsuka goya instead of staying at the closer Takatsuka goya.


Keep your eyes open in this area and you'll have a good chance to spot some monkeys and yakushima deer.



Day 3: 8h, 9.7km, 952m elevation gain

The highlight of this traverse is to climb Yakushimas highest peak Miyanoura. Adjust your starting time to the weather forecast to be able to get clear views of the inside of the island. In spring and early summer, mornings have heavy clouds which don't lift until 9-10am. If you start too early you might not see much.

This section of the hike also has some rope and steeper parts. If the weather is bad expect strong winds and slippery ground.


Once you pass Miyanoura peak you'll also pass the detour for Kuromidake. It's about an hour extra and worth the steep ascent. From the top you have a direct view of all the high peaks and it makes a good stop for lunch. You can leave your backpack at the turnoff and only bring some snacks/water.


The inside of the island with the marshy boardwalks is very beautiful. Enjoy the little ponds and streams and hope for clear weather.


This part of the hike is also possible as a dayhike from the Yodogawa trailhead so expect lots of dayhikers coming your way.


Depending on your walking speed and starting time it's possible to walk all the way to Kigensugi and take the last bus at 14:55. If you have more time or don't make the last bus, you can stay an extra night at Yodogawa goya and take the first bus at 10:45 the next day.



Day 4: 1h, 2.6km, 122m elevation gain

It's only about an hour from the hut to the bus stop. The last 20min will be on the road to the bus stop just before Kigensugi. Leave your bag at the bus stop and walk the 5min to Kigensugi.


Extra Info for the hike:

  • Be prepared for extreme weather and downpours. Full rain gear and backpack raincovers are a must.

  • River crossings can get impassable and dangerous with little warning.

  • In winter it's easy to get lost in the snow.

  • The majority of the hike has no cellphone reception. Only the peaks and some higher ridge lines will have service (with Docomo).

  • Depending on your walking speed and starting time this hike can be walked in 2-4 days.



Accommodation:

Shiratani goya: Space for 20 people

Shintakatsuka goya: Space for 40 people

Yodogawa goya: Space for 40 people



Extra Info Shelter:

  • Lights out and quiet by 8pm

  • Stay in the back of the shelter. Most people wake up between 3am-4am and it gets noisy.

  • Hang your food because of mice.

  • Stay inside the white lines if the shelter is full. One rectangle per person.

  • Don’t wear shoes inside.

  • Take all your trash home.

  • Each shelter (except for takatsuku) has a water source, but it's best to bring a water filter.

  • All shelters have pit toilets (but not always toilet paper).

  • Staying in the shelters is 2000¥ per person. Payable at the trailhead or information center by the port.




Elevation Profile & Map



Gallery


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