Posted on Aug 21, 2018
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186 4

Posted on Aug 21, 2018

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186 4
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!

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

    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!

  1. 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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