Posted on Oct 13, 2014

Posted on Oct 13, 2014

0 6


2 day(s)





Highest point





How to cycle from Sapporo to Mt. Tarumae - it is fairly straight forward. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Sapporo City, it is easy to forget that just half a day’s bike ride away is one of Japan’s most pristine volcanic lakes. This past long weekend we combined a bike ride to the lake with a hike up the 1,030m active volcano, Mt Tarumae.

Last updated Oct 9, 2018

Route Map

Need to know details


This Sapporo out-and-back loop route goes south to Lake Shikotsu (location) and Mt. Tarumae (location) before heading back to Sapporo via forestry roads between Chitose and the lake. It then heads towards Kitahiroshima to join up with the Shiroishi Cycling road (starts here) to get back into Sapporo City.

Daily Stats
Day 1

↔ 56km | ↗ 900m | 🚵 98% paved

Day 2

↔ 89km | ↗ 630m | 🚵 75% paved

General notes

This is a two-night cycling trip to Mt. Tarumae, an active volcano on the southern side of Lake Shikotsu. It makes the most of a great Riders’ House – Tarumaeso – at the souteastern corner of the lake.

See the Mt. Tarumae hiking route here >>

Route Timing

From Sapporo City to Lake Shikotsu is not very far in terms of kilometers. However, the high passes between the city and the lake make for a fairly long day in the saddle. There are two false passes on the way, so bank on around 3 hours from city to lake.

Physical maps

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

Weather forecast weather forecast for Mt. Tarumae
Other resources
  • See the Mt. Tarumae hiking route guide here.
  • Another Shikotsu-Chitose forestry road cycling option here.
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).

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Route Trip Notes

With her new job, Haidee now lives in Muroran city, about 2 hours train ride from Sapporo. Conveniently, Lake Shikotsu is more or less half way between Sapporo and Muroran, so the plan was for her to cycle north, and for Dirk and I to cycle south, and meet in the middle at Lake Shikotsu.

The ride for Dirk and I from Sapporo is one I’ve done a few times now. But the lake never fails to deliver the awesome views. The lake is normally a deep blue color, but with recent heavy rainfall, the lake on this day was emerald green.

Lunch was fresh grilled trout…local fare all around. We made fairly good time across the hills to the lake, so after a leisurely lunch, we joined the throngs of tourists at the popular Shikotsu-ko Spa area for some sightseeing.

Haidee made very good time after cycling uphill into a headwind most of the day, making it from Muroran to Lake Shikotsu by 2:30pm. We killed some time till the 4pm checkin time at the Morappu Tarumae-so riders’ house, and spent the rest of the night relaxing.

Next morning we were away by 8am, in order to meet another 6 friends who would meet us at the trailhead to Mt Tarumae at 9:30am. We had a 7km uphill ride from the riders’ house to get there. Despite the uphill we were happy we were on bikes, enjoying the autumn colors and forest light.

It transpired that the two cars with the others would end up arriving 30 minutes late, by which time the highest-altitude car-park was full. They had to settle for the lower carpark which necessitated an extra 45 minute walk. This meant that the cycling trio started up the hill ahead of them.

See the Mt. Tarumae hiking route and report here >>

Because we were on bikes, at the end of the hike we left the others with their 45 minute walk down the gravel road to the lower car park. Haidee, Dirk and I jumped on our bikes for a fast downhill ride to Shikotsu Spa, where we would meet up again for an onsen hotspring.

We somehow managed to miss the others at the onsen, and only ended up seeing them again once they were finished…in the mean time, while we thought we were still waiting for them to arrive at the onsen, we managed to see a taiko drum performance in the spa town center.

It was dark by the time we made the 4km bike ride back to the riders’ house…exhausted from a very full day.

Riders’ houses, by the way, are cheap, quite basic, but perfectly nice accommodation aimed primarily at travelers on bicycle or motorbike, but also people who travel by car on a budget. They are generally no more than 1,500yen a night (around US$15). The Morappu Tarumae-so is one of the better ones we have stayed in in Hokkaido.

The next morning, a public holiday, Haidee headed back south to Muroran, and Dirk and I headed north to Sapporo. Dirk and I took the awesome forestry roads originally scouted by Rick…one of the most enjoyable easy downhill forest gravel routes in Hokkaido, connecting Lake Shikotsu with Chitose City.

All in all an awesome and varied weekend out before the snows hit Hokkaido again for winter!

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

6 thoughts on “Mt. Tarumae Bike ‘n Hike”

  1. Hi, how did you book the rider´s house? I can´t find any contact information except a japanese phone number.

    1. Hi Mathh, we booked over the phone, in Japanese. You could try in English…not sure how well that will go, but it might work! Phone is the only way we know you can book. Most rider houses are pretty low-tech 🙂

  2. loved this page. thanks for the help. i’d most definitely be checking out this route for myself n your post helped alot 🙂
    one question though, what bikes did u use, and if u could, what would u suggest the kind of bike that i should get. i sold my old one while i was in tokyo and i want to buy a new one as ill be in sapporo for atleast 2 years.

    1. If you are wanting to cycle all year round (including the snow season) and want to explore some of the forestry roads here, I would recommend a mountain bike for sure! If you put some Schwalbe Big Apple tires on it for the summer, you’ll ride well in the city and on gravel. You’ll need some knobbly tires or spiked tires for winter though.

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Mt. Tarumae Bike ‘n Hike Difficulty Rating





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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.