Hangetsu Lake Circuit in Winter


Posted on Dec 26, 2016
19 0

Posted on Dec 26, 2016

19 0








Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

Best season

The circuit track around Hangetsu Lake in winter, at the foot of Mt. Yotei, is a good spot to get away from the mad bustle of Niseko Hirafu. It is a popular place for snowhoers. We didn't have snowhoes with us when we visited, so we had a blat around it on our touring skis. It is hardly the place for alpine skis, but with an abundance of bird-life at the trailhead, good views, and just enough elevation gain to make the second half fun, this is a great spot for honing the kick-and-glide skills.

Last updated Jul 13, 2021

Route Map

Photo Gallery

Need to know details


Hangetsu Lake is a crescent-moon shaped lake at the foot of Mt. Yotei near Niseko. The trailhead is here.

General notes

We’re on skis in this route guide. But really, this is a route just begging to be walked on snowshoes. In fact, the route is so popular, that most of the time you’d be quite alright in snow boots. The trail spends most of the winter packed down hard by a steady stream of nature-lovers wanting to get out of the bustle of Niseko.

Route Timing

Around one hour at a very leisurely stop-and-look-at-the-birds pace.


This route is not marked.


Public transport:

Access by local bus is possible either on the Niseko Bus (Otaru-line from Niseko JR Station – ニセコバス小樽線) or on the Do-Nan Bus (Kutchan-Toya Line from Kutchan JR Station – 道南バス倶知安~洞爺湖温泉線) – you’ll want to get off at the Yotei-tozan-guchi bus stop (羊蹄登山口). From there it would be a 20 minute walk to the carpark next to the lake.

By car: 

Ample parking at the carpark here.



Physical maps
Print: HokkaidoWilds.org 1:25,000 TOPOMAP+
Niseko Backcountry map: Buy on Amazon.co.jp | See companion site for more purchase options
GSI Topo Map: Niseko Annupuri (ニセコアンヌプリ) – map no. NK-54-20-7-2

NOTE: The GSI 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

Nothing particular of note. If you plan to veer off the main lake circuit route, it would be wise to notify the police of your backcountry plans online using Compass – instructions here.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Hangetsu Lake

Onsen nearby

The closest onsen are all in Niseko. Try the Niseko Station Onsen for good down-to-earth local onsen goodness (here).

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other hikes in the central Hokkaido area together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Yasuko Kikuchi. Born and raised in Hokkaido, she’s a JMGA-certified guide now based in Sapporo. Her outdoor experience is broad and worldwide, having worked as a Canadian Ski Patrol member, and has sumitted a number of 6,000m+ peaks around the world. She speaks good English. In addition to Yasuko, also see a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

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Route Trip Notes

The Hangetsu Lake circuit track is a popular spot for snowshoe tours. For the throngs of Niseko visitors who have never seen snow before, it is the perfect spot to experience Hokkaido’s winter nature. It is also a fun circuit to do on skis, in order to kill some time when Mt. Yotei may not be suitable for climbing, or the weather is otherwise inclement at higher altitudes.

The track itself will likely be hard-packed, having had at least a few snow shoe tours across it per day. Best to forge your own route through the trees. You’d have to try very hard to get lost.

The track climbs slightly towards the northeast of the lake, before heading down again towards the carpark. Be ready to jump out of the snowshoe track as you’re racing down the roller-coaster.

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Hangetsu Lake Circuit in Winter Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



Time ascending













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.