How to cycle from New Chitose Airport to central Sapporo City (Hokkaido, Japan)

Posted on Aug 15, 2017
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Posted on Aug 15, 2017
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From New Chitose Airport, it is about 50km to central Sapporo City by the most direct routes. Below, I outline three options, in order of recommendation: 1) a 55km meander through rural landscape and the Shiroishi Cycling road, 2) an 80km rocute via the hopelessly beautiful Lake Shikotsu, and 3) a 45km gauntlet-run along the heavy-traffic four-lane national highway 36. My pick is always either option 1 or 2. They’re much less harrowing than National Highway 36, and you get to enjoy much more of the rural and small-town landscape. Expect onsen, fresh vegetables, icecream, and cyclepaths (except for Option 3). Below are all three routes from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo, annotated with highlights along the way.

Last updated Oct 3, 2018

Option 1 – The Chitose Plains and Shiroishi Cycling Road

This cycling 55km route from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City goes via the Kita-Hiroshima/Chitose plains, and links up with the Shiroishi Cycling Road. The Shiroishi Cycling Road is a 20km separated, paved railtrail that runs from Kita-Hiroshima Station most of the way into central Sapporo City. Expect plenty of onsen (hotspring) options along the way, as well as local produce and rural farming vistas.

Cycling from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City (Hokkaido, Japan)

Option 2 – Via Lake Shikotsu

This is the 80km kick-jetlag-in-the-butt route. It is the longest route from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City, but it is hard to overstate how impressive Lake Shikotsu is. It is a crystal-clear caldera lake surrounded by beautiful forest. At the lake itself there are a few options for campgrounds, as well as a Rider’s House – 1,500yen to stay the night in this two-storey log cabin (shared dorm-style rooms). The onsen at Lake Shikotsu close early at around 3pm though, so you’ll need to be quick if you want a soak. Be warned though, the hills between Lake Shikotsu and Sapporo are not to be taken lightly. Unless you are starting very early from the airport, best to make this an overnight trip, camping at Lake Shikotsu.

Lake Shikotsu cycle touring airport

Option 3 – National Highway 36

This is the least desirable way of getting from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City. Distance-wise, this is the shortest route from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City. It is 10km shorter than the infinitely more cycle-friendly route via Kita-Hiroshima and the Shiroishi Cycling Road. That said, you’ll be sharing the road with 4 lanes of heavy traffic at most hours of the day, and you’ll encounter a lot of busy traffic light intersections. Therefore, even if you’re strapped for time, I can’t really recommend this route. It is just miles of character-less strip malls and car dealers. There aren’t even any onsen along the way. The only thing going for this route is that it is brain-dead. Stay on Route 36 – that is, just follow the truck exhaust fumes – and you can’t get lost. It will lead you straight into central Sapporo City.

New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City via the Route 36

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REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

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How to cycle from New Chitose Airport to central Sapporo City (Hokkaido, Japan) Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

D

25

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

25/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.