New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City via Lake Shikotsu

Posted on Oct 3, 2018
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Posted on Oct 3, 2018

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Reading time: 2 min
81km

Distance

2 days

Time

1100m

Ascent

600m

Highest point

5/10

Difficulty

100%

Paved

NOTE: There is very little in the way of convenience stores or other places to buy supplies on this route, outside of Chitose City. Stock up before leaving Chitose.

This is the kick-jetlag-in-the-butt cycling route from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City. It is the longest route from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City, but it is hard to overstate how impressive Lake Shikotsu is. It is a crystal-clear caldera lake surrounded by beautiful forest. At the lake itself there are a few options for campgrounds, as well as a Rider’s House – 1,500yen to stay the night in this two-storey log cabin (shared dorm-style rooms). The onsen at Lake Shikotsu close early at around 3pm though, so you’ll need to be quick if you want a soak. Be warned though, the hills between Lake Shikotsu and Sapporo are not to be taken lightly. Unless you are starting very early from the airport, best to make this an overnight trip, camping at Lake Shikotsu.

Last updated Oct 26, 2018

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This route cuts west from Chitose City, instead of heading straight north to Sapporo City. The idea is to go via Lake Shikotsu, the large, pristine caldera lake just 40km southwest of Sapporo City.

General notes

If everyone living in or visiting Hokkaido had all the time in the world, I’d make this route compulsory. It really is a gem. It follows the Chitose-Shikotsu Cycleway from Chitose to Lake Shikotsu (starting here in Chitose City), and then you’re at one of the most pristine and crystal clear lakes in Hokkaido.

  • Preparation: Note that once you’re out of Chitose City, there is very little in the way of services such as supermarkets and stores on this route till you get to Sapporo. Even in Shikotsu Village, there are only tourist-oriented stalls, not even any convenience stores. Make sure you have everything you need for camping before you leave Chitose City. You can get camping gas either at North Ride Plus in the Rera Outlet Mall next to the airport (here), Aeon Supermarket/mall (here) or the Chitose Homac hardware store (here).
  • Campgrounds at Lake Shikotsu: 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.
  • Lake Shikotsu Riders’ House: 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.
  • Packing/unpacking a bike at the airport: New Chitose Airport is a large airport with plenty of out-of-the-way places you can spread out and unpack/pack a bike for travel. Check out my list of bike shops in Chitose for places to get a bike box.
  • Getting out of the airport: If you want to avoid all large roads at all costs, you can get out of the airport grounds through a gate in the fence here. Take a look at Google Street View to see what I mean. Don’t stress if you can’t find it. The main road, which snakes its way out of the airport under a couple of overpasses, will get you to the same Route 36 into Chitose City proper.

Route markers

This route is not marked, but from Chitose City to Lake Shikotsu, the route follows the Chitose-Shikotsu Cycle Path (starting here).

Route Timing

From the airport to Lake Shikotsu, it will take around 2 to 3 hours. From there, bank on at least another 2 to 3 hours to get over the passes between the lake and Sapporo City on Route 453.

Physical maps

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

Route safety

Nothing particular to note, besides that there are no services between Chitose City and Lake Shikotsu (with only very limited places to get supplies in Lake Shikotsu). Make sure you stock up before getting out of Chitose City.

  • Snow: Note that even in early May, there may be snow on the Chitose-Shikotsu cycleway. From mid to late May is the earliest you’ll want to try to use the cycleway. You can use the road year-round, although with snow on the road it is narrow – and the traffic on the main road moves fast.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Lake Shikotsu
Other resources
Do you know of any? Let us know in the comments.
Onsen nearby

There are a number of onsen at the Lake Shikotsu Village. However, most onsen at Lake Shikotsu close to day visitors at around 3pm. The only one open till 5pm is the Kyuka-no-mura (休暇の村), here, although they don’t have an outdoor bath. If you’re in Lake Shikotsu Village for lunch and have the cash to spare, consider having a buffet lunch at Mizu-no-Uta hotel, here. The 2,000yen charge includes a delicious buffet lunch plus onsen entry (details).

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

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).

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City via Lake Shikotsu 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.