Posted on Oct 18, 2014
45 4

Posted on Oct 18, 2014

45 4


0.5 day(s)





Highest point





This route for bikepacking in Muroran city is a essentially a circuitous loop around the city's ski field. From the top of the ski field, you'll have some views across to the Pacific Ocean to the south. The gravel road leading down to Muroran Institute of Technology (MIT) runs through some gorgeous forest. Keep you eyes out for woodpecker and other wildlife.

Last updated Oct 26, 2018

Route Map

Need to know details


This bikepacking/mountain-biking route in Muroran City, on the south cost of Hokkaido, climbs up past the Muroran Danpara Ski Area (here), north of the city. The route is accessible from anywhere in Muroran City, but this route guide starts at Muroran Institute of Technology (MIT), here.

General notes

This route makes the most of a quiet hiking trail to connect the Danpara Ski area in Muroran with a forestry road that runs north into hills from the Muroran Institute of Technology. The trail section of the route is not designated as a mountain bike trail, so take it easy – hikers will not be expecting to see bikes on the trail.

Route Timing

The climb up from Muroran City to the ski field is the main time-eater on this trip.

Physical maps

Explore the official Japan topomaps online for the area around Danpara Ski Area here. Follow these instructions to print out the area you would like as a hardcopy.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Danpara Ski Area
Other resources
Onsen nearby

Right next to Muroran Institute of Technology is a small local sentou (public bath) called Mizumoto-no-Yu (here). 340yen per person.

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Route Trip Notes

“I never considered Muroran high on my list of places to live,” Haidee mused a few weeks back. She had just landed a job at Muroran Institute of Technology (MIT) as associate professor, and we were in the process of sorting out a place for her to live there. And I couldn’t help but agree; I’d only ever considered the south-eastern coast of Hokkaido to be windswept, bleak, and rather non-descript. Muroran City itself hadn’t stood out to me as much better. The eastern part of the city involves large swathes of reclaimed land now home to heaving steel foundries, and the place seems to constantly bear the brunt of chilly ocean winds.

Interestingly, however, many of Haidee’s new colleagues did nothing but rave about the place. “This place is paradise,” said one chap from Canada who surfs all year round. The same chap also extolled the great network of mountain biking trails in the hills north of the city. From all indications satisfaction with life seems to be at an all time high with those who live here.

So on my weekend visit this week, I decided to bring my bike on the train so that Haidee and I could explore a little around where she lives near the university (I still live in Sapporo, 1.5 hours by train from Muroran). And long story short, our little excursion today gave us a fresh new perspective on this fascinating city.

We had initially decided on a whim (at around 10am) that we would spend the day climbing Mt. Muroran. This 911m high mountain stands directly to the north of the city; you can’t really go up a hill for very long in Muroran City without eventually getting funneled into a valley that heads up towards the summit.

After an hour of cycling up to the beginning of the walking track (at 450m), however, we were starting to get content with our vertical gain efforts, and decided to head back down. The walking track starts at the Muroran Dan Para Ski Field, so we ate the sandwiches we had on hand in the shelter of the ski field buildings.

It was in one of these buildings that I noticed an old hand-written map that indicated it might be possible to connect the ski field with an old forestry road that weaves its way up the valley where Haidee’s apartment is. Essentially the ski field is at the upper confluence of two valleys; Haidee’s valley and the next valley to the west. If we were able to get to the forestry road from the ski field, we’d have a gravel road downhill straight back to Haidee’s place.

We decided to take the challenge on, and this culminated in ‘discovering’ a very nice and varied “MIT – Dan Para Loop”.

From the ski field buildings it was a short 15 minute bike/hike up the Mt. Muroran hiking trail, past the hakuchou hut (白鳥ヒュッテ) to where the koudai tozan-ro (工大登山路)  walking trail starts on the right of the trail (at the top of the ski field chairlift).

From here it was all downhill on single-track. Some perfectly rideable…but most in the realm of “get-off-the-bike-and-ease-it-down”…knobbly tires probably would have helped to no end, of course.

The foot track did eventually link up with the mizumoto forestry road, however, and we were very soon wending our way through autumn leaves straight back down to Haidee’s place.

The bike ride left us feeling that Muroran City is a bit of a dark horse: less than 10 minutes on the bike from Haidee’s place we can be deep in the hills. A two-hour bike ride takes us across a couple of ridges and affords expansive views over the city and harbor.

We’re very much looking forward to winter here; snowshoeing tour from door to door, taking in some of the best pacific views in Hokkaido, anyone?

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route up to Danpara Ski Area? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

4 thoughts on “The MIT-Danpara Loop (Muoran City)”

  1. Nice photos!
    I will have same problem as Haidee soon. I catch a position at MIT (the Muroran one…) and expected to move there in April. . I would like very much to receive some more impressions about the Muroran life.
    Please send me a private message. I would really appreciate.

    1. Hi Paolo, great to hear that you’ll be at Muroran Institute of Technology; you should find Haidee when you’re there and say hi! I’ll get in touch.

  2. Love it! Yes, places like Muroran just don’t inspire any kind of positive image – but the locals know the hidden away places. I imagine there might also be abandoned train lines in that area from the industrial past. Love the pix.

    1. Abandoned railways? Sounds awesome! We did another bike ride today, this time along the Pacific Ocean coast…just stunning!

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The MIT-Danpara Loop (Muoran City) Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



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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.