New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City via Lake Shikotsu

Posted on Oct 3, 2018

Posted on Oct 3, 2018

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Highest point





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

GPX route file download

KML route file download

Topographical Map

Route Map

Need to know details

General notes

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
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 weather forecast for Lake Shikotsu
Other resources
Onsen nearby weather forecast for Lake Shikotsu

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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).

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New Chitose Airport to Sapporo City via Lake Shikotsu 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.