I’ve only ever done Asahidake as a day hike once, the other times have been the start of multi-day excursions into the range. Although it’s a bit of a steady slog up the often busy route above the ropeway, you are compensated by the classic volcanic scenery, hissing steam vents and expanding views. The summit can sometimes be crowded and you might even have to queue for your turn for a selfie by the marker post.
The route down the other side varies with the time of year from a wide snowfield that is fun to slide down to a loose rutted track that isn’t. One time there was a guided group coming up the snowfield that reminded us of those pictures of the queues of climbers on the Lhotse Face of Everest. Well, almost.
At the bottom you pass by the Ura-asahi designated camping spot. It is an open col with no facilities but a few rock walls have been built to shelter tent sites from the wind. Then it’s a gentle climb up to Mamiyadake. This is one of the most scenic stretches of trail with lots of flowers blooming in July. Later in the season, as you look back to the small crater of Kumagatake on your left the snow patches form a smiley face to reflect your mood.
Once on the broad main ridge it’s a half hour walk north with expansive views into the large crater of Ohachidaira on the right and Hokuchindake, Hokkaido’s second highest peak, ahead.
At the signposted junction you turn left and drop down to Nakadake onsen. This is just a small pool in the riverbed. My companion and I refreshed ourselves by soaking our tired feet in the steaming tub. Then we carried on down though the increasingly green meadows and occasional marshy spots of Susoaidaira to the junction with the trail that took us around the flank of the mountain and eventually back to the ropeway at Sugatami.