Lake Shikotsu is a favorite for us for an overnighter. It’s only 25km from our house, so it’s an easy 2 hour bike ride on completely separated cycle path the whole way. Usually we’d stay at the Morappu Campground, but this time around, we decided to cycle an extra 18km to the western end of the lake to stay at the Bifue Campground. We’d never stayed there before. With winter fast approaching, this was one of the last weekend’s we’d have to try the campground out.
As usual, we followed the Chitose-Lake Shikotsu cycleway (route here). I was on the mighty Tern Verge S27h (renamed for 2016 the Tern Verge Tour), with a full complement of camping gear.
At this time of year (early October), the kokuwa (hardy kiwi) wild fruit are ripe for the picking. These mini smooth-skinned kiwifruit are delicious, but are very difficult to access. The vines like very high-up places. As it was, however, the cycleway was covered in them due to recent tail end of a typhoon in the previous few days. The high winds had dropped them all along the path (along with copious amount of branches).
We would have spent some more time foraging, but we were a little pressed for time; if we were going to get to the Lake Shikotsu village for lunch, we were going to have to keep moving.
We left home in central Chitose at around 10:00am, and arrived at Lake Shikotsu village at around 12:30pm. We were tempted by the Mizu-no-Uta buffet lunch (which we indulged in for lunch the following day), but opted instead for a quick lunch of udon and snacks.
Post-lunch, we started towards Bifue Campground, almost 20km around the lake. Overall, apart from one very short stretch of gravel, the Saturday afternoon ride was below average on the fun and relaxation scale. Regular large trucks thundering past, a headwind breeze, lots of ups and downs, and very few decent views of the lake meant that we were well and truly ready to relax by the lake by the time we made it to the campground.
Access to the campground was down a long driveway, dotted with large puddles from the rain in the preceding days. The hectic approach was made up for, however, by the breathtaking view that awaited us at the campground.
We spent a few moments scoping the place out before hurrying to set up the tent and get some dinner on the go. Even at the beginning of October in Hokkaido, the temperatures are dropping, and we wanted to get some warm food in us.
Bifue Campground is also very good in terms of facilities. There are washers and dryers, coin-operated showers, a basic shop, and of course clean ablution blocks and covered outdoor kitchen areas. As of writing (early October 2015), it cost 1,000yen per person per night to stay.
The clear starry night views were more than worth it.
We had opted to camp on the volcanic-sand beach, which would have been fine, had there not been sporadic squalls roll through during the wee hours of the morning. Gusts of wind and rain meant that at one point we had to hurriedly take down our tarp. Only six of the eight pegs were pegged into hard ground, and the other two had come loose. The morning broke calm, however, with some amazing golden hour light.
On the menu for breakfast was fresh coffee…And croissants, warmed in a pot.
When the sun peeked out from the clouds, it was quite warm. Otherwise, the temperatures hovered around 5 to 8 degrees C. We weren’t the only ones making the most of the autumn weather, however. At least a couple of sets of people had paddled by while we were having breakfast, either in canoes or kayaks.
We were packed up and on the road by 9am, and sped back east along the lake towards the Lake Shikotsu village. The headwind we’d had yesterday was now a tailwind, and we made good time. Also being a Sunday, the traffic was less heavy and noisy.
The big mission for today was to splash out and have a buffet lunch at Mizu-no-Uta hotel. This US$400 plus a night hotel has one of the best value buffet lunches in Hokkaido (we think). For 2,800yen per person, you get access to their amazing buffet lunch plus entry to their hotspring onsen. Both are exceptional. Very well worth a visit every now and then, even more so after a chilly morning camping! Talk about luxury.
Refreshed after a leisurely lunch and onsen, all we had to do in the afternoon was roll on downhill back home along the cycle path. Bifue Campground at Lake Shikotsu. Highly recommended
19 thoughts on “Chitose City to Bifue Campground (Lake Shikotsu)”
I was also wondering if there are any places to camp for free (no cooking or footprint) away from the east campsite. I usually have no problems camping in Japan but since there is the official site (with no showers) I was concerned they may not people camp around the lake in other places…looks like you did though.
We’ve only ever camped in campgrounds. The photo at the top of this picture is from the beach at Bifue Campground. Officially the lake is within the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, so setting up a tent outside of designated campgrounds is not allowed. That said, there’s no law against sleeping on the ground, so you can sleep anywhere you want. Regardless, I doubt you’ll encounter any ill-will (see our thoughts on wild camping here).
Thanks for all the information. I was wondering if its possible to hitchhike from around chitose station to the lake. The road seems pretty straightforward.
If I didn’t catch a ride in an hour or so I would take the bus.
It would be easiest if you walk to the intersection of Route 36 and Route 16 (around here) – Route 16 is the road that goes all the way to Lake Shikotsu. This will greatly increase the probability that passing cars will be going that way. Also, best to make a sign saying 支笏湖 (Lake Shikotsu).
Hi! Do you know if we can rent tents, sleeping bags, etc (full camping equipment) there?
Yes you can. Four-person family tents ate 1500yen per night apparently. They also have sleeping bags, BBQs, chairs etc. You should contact them in advance to book though, because the campground gets super busy on certain weekends. Source: https://www.shikotuko.jp/faq.html
Thank you for this wonderful write up. So my husband bailed on me due to work and I decide to come on my own anyway!
I downloaded this thanks to a Good Samaritan putting it altogeher: https://goo.gl/maps/QfjWKC5F49H2 not sure why Bifue is not pinned.
I had a day where I will be spending a night in Shikotsu Lake not by choice, to space out the driving.
So very glad I found your page and this campground will fit my shoestring budget!
Big question, I will be looking to camp here on 27th Oct. Does this camoground ever shuts for early winter(ish)? Thanks!
Great blog and beautiful photos, thank you. We are coming to Hokkaido from New Zealand in August to cycle tour for 8 weeks. Your web site is a treasure trove of information and very appreciated 😎
Thank you for the kind words! I’m sure you’ll love it here.
Fantastic post (and blog!) We are planning on campervanning in Northern Honshu and Hokkaido in August + September and this has been inspiring. Also getting me planning that cycle trip I keep talking about …
You’ll love northern Japan in summer! Not too muggy, and the scenery is awesome. Do drop us a line around the time you’re in Hokkaido, it would be great to meet up!
This looks really fun! I am planning a trip to Hokkaido from the 20th July to 20th August. I’m an independent traveller and I don’t really want to plan too much in advance. I am thinking about hitchhiking and camping with some time in youth hostels and maybe some huts if these kind of things exist in the national parks. Any hints greatly appreciated.
Check out Mark Hauser’s Daisetsuzan National Park hiking map for hut info (https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4906740278/) in that area.
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What model of Tern is that?
It is the mighty Tern Verge S27h. Apparently it has been rebranded as the Tern Verge Tour for 2016. Also, I replaced the factory Sram Dualdrive drivetrain with an 11-speed Shimano Alfine Hub.
the important questions.