Posted on Aug 21, 2018
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186 9

Posted on Aug 21, 2018

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186 9
Reading time: 9 min
540km

Distance

9 days

Time

8417m

Ascent

1173m

Highest point

9/10

Difficulty

57%

Paved

CAUTION: This route is under development. As of August 2018, The Hokkaido Wilds does not endorse following this route. Doing so is at your own risk and responsibility (see Terms of Use below). The great Hokkaido typhoons of 2015/2016/2018 and the 2018 earthquake (largest in Hokkaido recorded history) have caused extensive damage to many of the once-pristine gravel stretches of this route. In some sections, the road simply no longer exists, requiring stream-walking and/or bush-bashes. Conditions will vary daily, and entry restrictions apply to many parts of the route. Obey all signs posted.
This in-development bikepacking route cuts deep into Hokkaido's interior. From the south coast to the north coast, connecting together some of the island's most revered and popular backcountry forestry roads. Expect to be sharing the road with wild deer, foxes, racoon-dogs, and the ocassional Hokkaido brown bear. Hot springs, of course, are a daily occurrence on this remote (by Japan standards) and challenging route. With wild rivers, sub-apline and alpine views, this is Japan all-road bike touring at its best.

Last updated Jul 6, 2019

Route Map

Route Overview

This route is a connect-the-dots style route, based on gravel road sections marked in the Japan bike-tourist’s bible, the Touring Mapple (ツーリングマップル | Amazon Japan). As such, it ignores most logic regarding efficiently getting from A to B. Instead, it seeks out Hokkaido’s most remote blocks of forest and wilderness accessible by bicycle. Until the typhoons of 2015/2016, many of the more remote routes here (such as the Penkenikorobetsu Rindo near Tomuraushi) were popular with trail-bikers and 4×4 explorers.

Now, extensive washed out sections mean that anyone venturing onto some parts of the route will be completely alone. You’ll see nothing but deer footprints. If anything goes wrong, the only rescue will be on foot. For this reason (and others), the worst-affected parts of the route are now roped off, accessible only by authorized personnel. At Hokkaido Wilds, we do not recommend entering restricted areas of the route. If you do find yourself on a closed part of the route, please make sure you have some means of emergency contact. Gravel roads in Hokkaido are, for the most part, out of mobile reception, so you’ll need a SPOT PLB or similar.

This route overview is best understood simply as a record of the existence of these backcountry gravel roads. Fingers crossed they are repaired soon, so that access to these beautiful areas can be restored.

Daily Route notes

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route or parts of it? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

9 thoughts on “Trans-Hokkaido Bikepacking Route (beta)”

  1. Hey there Rob!

    Nice work mate! I just moved to Japan and have plans to give this route a go in August. Do you have any beta on sections that clearly impassible and still need a detour? If so, any recommendations on which detour to take?

    1. Hey Mike, I would 100% assume that all washed out sections are still washed out. We don’t have any beta on recent conditions…it would still be a true adventure!

      1. Hey Rob!

        Thanks for the reply. Want to join me on it? I’ll be up there around August 10th most likely. I have my gravel bike, which might be a bit less than what I want, but I love a good sufferfest. I’ll be riding up there from around the Tokyo area so I should have my cycling legs by then. Let me know mate!

          1. Let me know if you change your mind! Also, it might be earlier than that so let me know what time in August you’re free! The Daisetsuzan looks tempting.

    1. Hey Dan. Most damage that we experienced will not be repaired for the forseeable future. Cyclists need to be prepared to pioneer the way and be ready to turn back if necessary. Either way, the route is impassible in April – still huge amounts of snow until well into May on this route, and the gravel roads are not cleared in winter. All the best for researching a good bikepacking trip!

  2. Hi,

    Do you know if there has been any improvement in the condition of that gravel road up to Tomaurashi Onsen?

    1. Hi Jim, sorry for the delay in reply! If you’re talking about the gravel section of Route 718 from the Tokachi River bridge to Tomuraushi Onsen (ie., this bit), then this road is still nice gravel – although they were working to pave it when we were there, so you may discover more pavement.

      If you’re talking about the Penke-nikorobetsu Rindo Forestry Road (i.e., this bit, on Day 4), then this road still has massive washouts – it won’t be fixed for a very long time, if ever.

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ADVANCED FILTERS

Filter by location

About Filters

REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at [email protected] with your suggestions.

Trans-Hokkaido Bikepacking Route (beta) 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.