Nopporo Forest Park Mountain Biking (Sapporo City)

Posted on May 28, 2017

Posted on May 28, 2017

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NOTE: There are signs at the entrance to most trails in Nopporo Forest Park that prohibit ‘general vehicles’ (一般車両, ippan-sharyou) from driving on the trails. While bicycles are usually classed as vehicles, this restriction does not apply to bicycles in the park. That said, as a common courtesy cyclists should take care and yield to walkers.

Nopporo Forest Park (野幌森林公園) is a 7km long, 4km wide Hokkaido Prefectural Nature Park straddling the Sapporo and Ebetsu City border. There is an excellent network of well maintained cycling and walking trails through the park. These allow access to great birdwatching opportunities (including owls), and are an excellent, easy way to get into nature close to the city. There's nothing particularly technical on these trails - they're mostly flat. Here, we outline a 25km loop that explores the forest's gravel roads and paths from north to south. It also includes an optional natural hotpsring soak outside the park at the southern end.

Last updated Jun 5, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details


Nopporo Forest Park is on the southeastern edge of Sapporo City. The majority of the park is actually in Ebetsu City. The most common entrance to the park is near the Memorial Tower, here, about 13km east of Sapporo Station.

General notes

Most tourists will end up in Nopporo Forest Park without even knowing it. On the park’s western edge, it’s home to the Hokkaido Historical Village (here), which showcases early Hokkaido settlement and colonization history. There’s also the Hokkaido Muesum (here), and that gargantuan Hokkaido Centennial Memorial Tower (here), built to commemorate 100 years since the colonization of Hokkaido. That’s the tower you can see from most places in Sapporo City (the one that looks like the Tower of Mordor from Lord of the Rings).

While all that is of interest, and worth checking out at least once, there’s much more to the park than that. This 2,053ha park straddles the borders of Sapporo City, Ebetsu City, and Kitahiroshima City, and is home to 16 separate official trails (all unpaved), giving access to “more than 510 plant species, including 110 tree species, as well as more than 200 species of mushrooms, 140 species of birds and 1,300 species of insects” (Wikipedia, n.d.). “[Ezo] squirrels, Japanese hares, [Ezo] brown frogs, Hokkaido salamanders and other animals inhabit the park” (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Route markers

The park’s trails are well signposted, but they’re all in Japanese. An app that can display Open Street Maps or Japan topographical maps (such as any on this page) will help to make navigation easier for non-Japanese readers.

Route Timing

It took us a leisurely 4 hours to complete this full loop, including onsen and and a packed lunch on the trail.

Physical maps

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

Route safety

The Hokkaido typhoon of September 2018 caused a lot of damage in the park. Park officials have restored access to most trails, but some may still be closed. Also note that there are signs at the entrance to most trails that prohibit ‘general vehicles’ (一般車両, ippan-sharyou) from driving on the trails. While bicycles are usually classed as vehicles, this restriction does not apply to bicycles in the park. That said, as a common courtesy cyclists should take care and yield to walkers.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Nopporo Forest Park
Other resources
  • Fatbikers love Nopporo Forest Park in winter, as do snowshoers (our snowshoe report here).
  • Some general information on the park’s Wikipedia entry here.
Onsen nearby

Our pick of onsen in eastern Sapporo City is always the Mori-no-yu onsen (here). This tannin-water onsen (dark brown) has beautiful views from the outdoor baths across a quiet wooded valley. They also have a large, good-value restaurant with two sections – a typical onsen restaurant (set menus, ramen, soba, donburi etc.) plus a yaki-niku BBQ area. On the weekends there’s usually a vege stall selling local Hokkaido produce too. There are a couple of other onsen close by too – the Honoka Onsen (here) and the Kioyora Onsen (here).

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Route Trip Notes

Sooner after Haidee and I started our jobs as tenured faculty at Hokusei Gakuen University (here in southeastern Sapporo City), the university staff outdoor club caught wind that we were into the outdoors. So they invited us to come on a mountain bike trip through the Nopporo Forest Park, only 5km from the campus. The day started out damp, and only got more damp as we cycled deeper into the woods, but it was warm enough.

We started off cycling through the central gravel road that cuts though the park from west to east (this one). Haidee and I often cycle this road as a quick blat through the woods to a very nice cafe on the eastern side of the park (here). They have very nice wood-fired oven pizza.

The first section of this route is the most challenging, with a couple of flights of stairs and some steep-ish dirt trails that can be slippery and muddy when wet. Once this bit was out of the way, however, we were spat out into a momentary flash of civilization – we were now cycling in front of the Hokkaido Historical Village and Hokkaido Museum. The memorial tower was also in our sights, so with a light rain beginning to fall, we headed in that direction.

We weren’t planning on having lunch so early on in the trip, but it was raining, and we happened to be next to the memorial tower, where there is a nice covered area with public toilets and a few picnic tables. The decision was made to have an early (10:45am, to be exact) lunch. Prof. Tsunoda fired up his Jetboil, and I brewed up some coffee on my pop-can stove (DIY instructions by Tom Allen here).

It was still lightly raining when we finally decided to push on. The weather didn’t seem to be getting any better, so we pulled on some wet weather gear and resigned to get wet. Even so, the forest was green and beautiful.

Soon after this last photo , it started to rain in earnest. We pushed on, keeping the page up to keep warm.

By the time we made it most of the way back to our starting point, the rain had mercifully stopped, and we even got some warm rays of sunshine. We took the opportunity to take a group picture before it started raining again. We then wended our way through quiet residential streets towards Mori-no-yu Onsen (here) for a well-earned soak.

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Nopporo Forest Park Mountain Biking (Sapporo City) 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.