The Dead Straight Kita Go-jo Forestry Road (Chitose City)

Posted on Jun 28, 2015
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29 2

Posted on Jun 28, 2015

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29 2
Reading time: 3 min
58km

Distance

1 days

Time

351m

Ascent

270m

Highest point

3/10

Difficulty

60%

Paved

For some forestry road cycling in Chitose city, try the conspicusouly straight Kita Go-jo Rindo (rindo means forestry road in Japanese). It is a closed-to-general traffic dirt road in Chitose City, Hokkaido, Japan. It more or less connects Chitose City proper with the Lake Shikotsu area, and makes for a very nice day trip from Chitose to the lake.

Last updated Oct 26, 2018

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This route is a circuitous route directly to/from Lake Shikotsu and Chitose City, taking the forestry roads one way, and the Shikotsu-Chitose cycleway the other way. The route starts and finishes at JR Chitose Station (here).

General notes

This particular forestry road – the Kita Go-Jo rindo – has long held my attention whenever I looked at maps of the forests between Chitose City proper and Lake Shikotsu. We’ve cycled the more curvy dirt road to the north on more than one occasion (such as the Mt. Tarumae trip, a Lake Shikotsu overnighter from Sapporo, and a more recent Summer Solstice trip), but I’ve always wanted to try heading just a little deeper into the maze of dirt roads and try the Kita Go-Jo road out.

We chose to do this route clockwise from Chitose Station. That is, up to Lake Shikotsu via the forestry road, and back to Chitose via the cycleway. In hindsight, it would have been better to do the route the other way around, so that we were enjoying the downhill on the gravel forestry road. Either way, it is great fun, and the forestry road allows time spent in nature, close to the small rivers that run through the area.

Note that the forestry roads between Chitose and Lake Shikotsu can be very coarse at times. The gravel used is more akin to railway gravel. So, a bike that can handle fairly rocky roads is required.

  • Viewpoint over hydroelectric power station: On the cycleway, you’ll be passing by a good viewpoint over the Chitose River valley, here.
  • Chitose salmon hatchery: This interactive salmon hatchery (here) allows visitors to wander around and see how they do it.
  • The Bird Watching Cafe: With a menu designed by a genius Australian chef (disclaimer: Aaron is a friend), this is a nice place to stop and have a bite to eat while watching birds (here).
  • Meon Garden Cafe: Also a nice spot to relax while viewing an expansive well-kept garden (here).

Route Timing

Bank on around 3 hours from Chitose to the lake, then about 1.5 hours on the way back.

Physical maps

Explore the official Japan topomaps online for the area around Go-Jo forestry road here. Follow these instructions to print out the area you would like as a hardcopy.

Route safety

The forestry roads in this area are closed to general traffic, and are not regularly patrolled. While the main road is not too far away to the north, make sure you have a means of contacting someone should anything go wrong.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Go-Jo forestry road
Other resources
Do you know of any? Let us know in the comments.
Onsen nearby

For cheap-and-cheerful, try the Kyuka-no-Mura Shikotsuko (休暇の村支笏湖) here. They don’t have an outdoor bath, but they’re open later (till 5pm) than any other onsen in the area. For something more upmarket, Mizu-no-Uta (水の歌), here, can’t be beaten. The onsen on its own is about 1,000yen per person, but their 2,000yen buffet lunch and onsen set is a pretty good deal, so consider booking ahead and treating yourself (NOTE: The price indicated on the Japanese page is 2,000yen, on the English page it says 3,240yen…we’ve only ever paid 2,000yen).

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Having held my interest for a while, Haidee and I headed out from Chitose late in the morning to try out riding this dead-straight forestry road. Being our first time to cycle uphill from Chitose to Lake Shikotsu via the dirt roads, it would prove to be a little tiring. Like it’s more curvy brother to the north, the Kita Go-Jo straight road was ‘paved’ with what appeared to be railway-grade gravel. Real tooth-filling-rattling stuff. And it sure was straight.

Such was the deadpan straightness of the road that I only took one photo of the ride on gravel. “I’m pretty much over this,” was Haidee’s general view of the route. I was inclined to agree, thinking that this route would be amazing if going the other way. In the opposite direction it would be a fairly even downhill gradient, and with some big, soft tires, it would be a very fast ride.

Our ultimate destination was the Lake Shikotsu township, on the shores of Lake Shikotsu, the large caldera lake west of Chitose City proper (but still within the city limits). Once we hit the Chitose-Lake Shikotsu cycleway, we first pumped our tires up back to pavement-pressures. The PostPump that comes standard with the Tern folding bikes made short work of this.

From there we headed straight to Lake Shikotsu township, arriving just before it started a steady light rain.

Today was the Lake Shikotsu festival. Celebrated with a generous helping of lake-caught sockeye salmon (introduced to the lake many years ago) cooked over hot coals. Delicious.

This was followed up by coffee at the Log Bear Coffee House, run by the effervescent Hideyuki Kikkawa. He roasts his own coffee in his kitchen out the back of the cafe, in a home made LPG gas burner coffee roaster.

Interestingly for us, Mr. Kikkawa, who also runs the Lake Shikotsu Youth Hostel, mentioned that it is possible to use the youth hostel’s hotspring baths (onsen) in the evening, even if you’re not staying there. “Other onsen in Shikotsu-ko recirculate their hot water,” he said.

“Our onsen is never recirculated, it is always fresh. And the spring water quality is very good for the skin,” he boasted, lightly drawing his hand across the skin of his inner and upper arm. Lightly pinching the soft skin hanging under his outstretched upper arm, he said “see look, it makes you nice and soft!” After which he let out his hilarious full-bellied laugh.

This is to say, we had thought that all onsen in Lake Shikotsu shut their doors to day visitors after around 4pm. This new info means that even when camping, it is possible to have a soak in the evening.

We headed off back towards Chitose City proper via the paved cycle path around 2pm. Since the going was easy and the gradient downhill, we felt happy to drop in on some attractions we’d not been to so far, such as the turn-of-the-century Chitose hydro electric station, and a sockeye salmon hatchery.

The Chitose hydro electric station (location here), built in 1910 was perhaps the most surprising. We’d not known it had existed until today, despite being on the edge of a very impressive valley to the north.

The power station mainly supplies the Oji Paper Corporation’s paper factories in nearby Tomakomai City, and has been doing so since the power station was built. The water from the power station comes from Lake Shikotsu, via the Chitose River, and has a head of around 150m. Definitely worth a look if you’re heading through the area.

The other attraction was the sockeye salmon hatchery (location here).  Fishes on their way to being skewered and cooked up to a delightful treat. From there it was downhill all the way home to Chitose, ending a great day out.

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The Dead Straight Kita Go-jo Forestry Road (Chitose City) 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.