Once in Chitose City, you’ll head west towards the start of the Chitose to Lake Shikotsu cycleway here. This mostly-100% separated cyclepath is a beautifully paved path that cuts through some gorgeous forest on its way to the lake. It is a gradual climb all the way to the caldera lake.
Important to note is that once you’re out of Chitose City, there are next to no services like grocery stores and convenience stores, even at Lake Shikotsu. If you plan to camp at Lake Shikotsu, make sure you’ve got all you need – including snacks – before you leave Chitose City.
There are a couple of campgrounds on the shores of Lake Shikotsu. Morappu Campground here is on the eastern side, and Bifue Campground is on the western side (Bifue Campground blog posts here and here). For practical purposes, Morappu Campground is probably the best one to stay at if you’re just passing through.
There’s also the Rider’s House next to Morappu Campground here. Rider Houses, found all over Hokkaido and other parts of Japan, are cheap, basic accommodation for motorcyclists, cyclists, and walkers. The one at Morappu costs 1,500yen per night for a spot on the floor of a shared dorm room.
Note that the campground closest to Lake Shikotsu Village (Morappu Campground here) requires a bit of a back-track if you go straight to the village first. Or, if you go straight to the campground, it is a bit of a detour to get to the village. Either way, it is about a 15 minute bike ride from the village to campground.
From the lake, get your climbing legs into gear. You’ll climb up and over the hills southwest of Sapporo City, through beautiful forest. Savor the downhill, and once you’re into the city outskirts, find your way onto the Toyohira River cycle path, which will take you more or less directly into the city center.
Just as an aside, if you’re hankering for some gravel road action, there are some very nice forestry roads on the southern side of the main road that goes from Lake Shikotsu to Chitose City. They are an absolute blast to ride downhill from Lake Shikotsu to Chitose, but would also be a nice quiet option for coming the other way also.
The gravel is pretty coarse, however, so I would recommend sticking to the cyclepath if you’re on skinny tires.
Check out the route map below for the route (download the GPX file here).