Distance: 24km | Ascent: 150m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
We chose to do this trip from east to west. This required a train trip from Sapporo City to Nemuro at the eastern reaches of Hokkaido. There are direct express trains from Sapporo to Kushiro, running daily (check Google). From Kushiro you’ll be on one of those super quaint ‘one-man’ trains to Nemuro. Total train time is about 7 hours. Get on the earliest train you can, and you’ll be in Nemuro in time to cycle to the tip of Cape Nosappu (the eastern-most point of Japan) to camp there for the night.
Accommodation: Boyo-no-misaki Park (望郷の岬公園)
Distance: 76km | Ascent: 680m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
Today’s highlights include sun-dried kelp, big empty roads, coastal views, and a cow-shaped campground. Quite literally, this is the campground you’ll be staying at (Google Maps satellite view). It would have been perfectly reasonable to carry on to the campground at Cape Kiritappu, but we were keen to have the time tomorrow to explore the Kiritappu Wetlands (霧多布湿原).
Also note in the blog posts we opted for an extra night in Nemuro, since Haidee was doing some distance learning at the time. She had a supervisor’s meeting, so we stayed in Nemuro at a hotel. So the blog posts for ‘today’ are the following:
Accommodation: Mootto Kazete Campground (ＭＯ−ＴＴＯかぜて) | 324 yen per tent
Distance: 13km | Ascent: 68m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
If you’re into birds, the Kiritappu Wetlands is a worthwhile place to visit. There’s an information center up on the hill a little ways inland (here). It has massive panoramic views over the wetlands. It also happens to have a very reasonably priced curry lunch set.
Accommodation: Cape Kiritappu Campground (霧多布岬キャンプ場) | Free
Onsen: Kiritappu Onsen Yuyu (霧多布温泉ゆうゆ) | 500yen | 2.6km from accommodation
Distance: 40km | Ascent: 400m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
Hopelessly empty roads. Oysters upon oysters. If you find yourself in the area in the second week of October (and you like oysters) then you’ll be in heaven – they have an annual oyster festival here. I had to make do with fried oysters on top of a massive pork bowl.
Today’s campground is about 5km from the nearest baths (Kiraku-yu, here), but the campground also has hot showers for 320yen a person.
Accommodation: Chikushikoi Camping Ground (筑紫恋キャンプ場) | 210 yen per tent
Onsen: Kiraku-yu (喜楽湯) | 440yen | 5km from accommodation
Distance: 55km | Ascent: 400m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
Brace yourself for a full dose of colonial Hokkaido history towards the end of today. There’s the Lake Toro Historical Museum (here) next to Lake Toro; worth a visit.
Accommodation: Toromotomura Campground (塘路元村キャンプ場) | 380 yen per person
Onsen: () | yen
Distance: 60km | Ascent: 650m | Paved: 90% | ↓ GPX file
The Kushiro Wetlands were the main reason we conceived of this route across Hokkaido in the first place. The Japan-Guide.com does a better job at explaining about the place, but it is Japan’s larges wetland, designated as a national park in 1987. The route for today cuts across the wetlands on a short section of gravel road. There’s a lookout near the end of this gravel road. The campground for today is just over the road from the Akan red-crested crane sanctuary and michi-no-eki, so there’s plenty of information-absorbing to be had.
It is also a great place for a day off the bikes (as we did).
Accommodation: Akan Nature Recreational Village Campground (阿寒丹頂の里 自然休養村野営場) | 750 yen per tent
Onsen: Tancho-no-Sato Onsen (丹頂の里温泉) | 500yen | 0.8km from accommodation
Distance: 80km | Ascent: 1200m | Paved: 75% | ↓ GPX file
Today will get your gravel fix for the trip, with about 25km in total of rindo (forestry roads) across two low-lying forested ridges. The gravel is in good condition for the most part, but can be steep and rough nearer the passes. If you’d prefer not to cycle on gravel, then it is a solid 20km detour down to the coast; the gravel roads option is somewhat of a masochistic shortcut.
UPDATE (2017/7/30): There were reports of a number of trees downed across the route as well as washouts on these roads (see CyclingAbbout’s report on Youtube here).
Upon arriving in Honbetsu, you may want to head to the onsen before the campground, as it is a bit of a backtrack to get back to the onsen. There’s the big and beautiful Honbetsu Onsen across the river (here), which is the preferred option. Alternatively, there’s a little sento in town (here) that is less of a detour. EDIT (2018/10/11): The little sento in town is now closed.
Accommodation: Honbetsu Park Campground (本別公園静山キャンプ村) | Free
Onsen: Honbetsu Onsen Grand Hotel (本別温泉グランドホテル) | 500yen | 4.5km from accommodation
Distance: 76km | Ascent: 400m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
After a quick dash through the somewhat sprawling Obihiro City, today takes us across the Tokachi Region’s expansive agricultural plains. Wineries, local produce, and cool rows of white-barked birch. The whole region is hopelessly picturesque.
UPDATE (2018/10/11): The Arashiyama campground is currently closed for repairs due to damage from the 2016 typhoon. As an alternative, I doubt anyone would object to cyclists discretely setting up their tents next to the ski area, around here. From memory, that disused building has fairly large verandas would would be handy if it was raining.
Accommodation: Arashiyama Auto Camping Ground (芽室町嵐山オートキャンプ場) | 320 yen per tent | 540 yen per person
Onsen: Shin Arashiyama Lodge (国民宿舎 新嵐山荘) | 270yen | 0.7km from accommodation
Distance: 80km | Ascent: 1200m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
Cycling over Nissho Pass will be memorable. Memorable mainly because you survived it, and finally made it to the glorious refuge of the sleepy mountain town of Hidaka. It is a main trunk route for trucks hauling Tokachi’s produce from the fertile plains around Obihiro to the port town of Tomakomai on Hokkaido’s southern coast.
As such, while the pass is a hill-climber’s paradise (from the Memuro Campground it is exactly 1,000m climb), it is not for everyone. The alternative for getting to Hidaka Town is a 300km detour around Cape Erimo to the south, or 120km detour across Karikachi Pass (644m) to the north. This is in comparison to the 1,000m climb and 80km direct route to Hidaka Town via the Nissho Pass. Ultimately it will come down to your tolerance for heavy traffic. On the whole it is fairly well behaved.
In any case, Hidaka is a gorgeous little town, with that surrounted-by-mountains feel. Good enough, in fact, to have a rest day at the very restful campground (rest day blog post here).
Accommodation: Hidaka Sarugawa Auto Camping Ground (日高沙流川オートキャンプ場) | 400 yen per tent | 100 yen per person
Onsen: Hidaka Kougenso Onsen (ひだか高原荘) | 500yen | 0.7km from accommodation
Distance: 50km | Ascent: 1050m | Paved: 95% | ↓ GPX file
After a lovely rest day in Hidaka, we carry on towards Sapporo, taking a detour via Shimukappu and Niniu. This route goes via a closed-to-general-traffic road. This route is slightly longer than the National Highway 274, but it is infintely more relaxing. There is a small amount of well-packed gravel on this section.
Accommodation: Hobetsu Campground (穂別キャンプ場) | 510 yen per tent
Onsen: Jukai Onsen Hakua (樹海温泉はくあ) | 520yen | 2.7km from accommodation
Distance: 44km | Ascent: 380m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
Day 11 and Day 12 could conceivably be merged into one big day back to Sapporo, but the Yuni Campground and onsen up the road is a nice spot to stop before tackling the entrance into the big metropolis. Also, you’ll be passing through Yubari on Day 11, so make sure to stop at one of the melon stalls along the way.
Accommodation: Furuyama Chosui-chi Nature Park Auto Camping Ground (古山貯水池自然公園 オートキャンプ場) | 500 yen per tent | 1000 yen per person
Onsen: Yuni-no-Yu Onsen (ユニの湯) | 650yen | 2.5km from accommodation
Distance: 50km | Ascent: 300m | Paved: 100% | ↓ GPX file
On the final day of the trip, we cycle across the Naganuma Plains to the beginning of the separated cycleway that will take you into Sapporo City (the Sapporo-Eniwa Cycling Road – full details here). There’s a nice bakery in Naganuma here.
Onsen: () | yen