Osawa Reservoir Loop Walk (Nopporo Forest Park)


Posted on Jun 16, 2020
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Posted on Jun 16, 2020

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Reading time: 7 min








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Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

Best season

Ebetsu Forest Campsite (江別市森林キャンプ場) is a quiet campground nestled on the far northeastern corner of the expansive Nopporo Forest Park east of Sapporo City. From the campground, there is access to Nopporo Forest Park via an over-grown trail near the Osawa Reservoir, or the Forestry Research Center. If the Forestry Research Center access road is open, then this makes for a fine one-hour loop around the reservoir, via the shaded Shikibi Trail (四季美コース) in the forest park. The campground itself makes for a great forested getaway micro-adventure for Sapporo dwellers - from Sapporo Station, almost 75% of the route is on separated cycle paths.

We visited this route on Jun 07, 2020

Last updated Jul 13, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details


This route starts and finishes at the Ebetsu City Forest Campground (江別市森林キャンプ場), at the northeastern edge of the Nopporo Forest Park. This expensive park sits on the Sapporo-Ebetsu border, at the far-eastern edge of Sapporo City in central southern Hokkaido.

General notes

Even long-term Sapporo residents are surprised when they find out there’s a campground at the Nopporo Forest Park. Technically, the campground is just outside the park proper – it’s right on the border of the park. It seems relatively popular, however. When we were there on the first weekend after stay-at-home requests were lifted for Hokkaido, there were about 25 tents well spaced out in the large camp-anywhere grassy campground. From the campground, walkers can access the nearby Nopporo Forest Park via the Forest Tree Breeding Center, making a nice loop across the Osawa Reservoir dam.

  • Forest Tree Breeding Center Access: Later, we found on the website of the Forest Tree Breeding Center that the Forest Tree Breeding Center is closed to the general public from the 25th of May till 30th of September 2020, due to earthworks (details here).
  • About Ebetsu Forest Campground: 400yen per adult per night (200yen per child). No equipment rental available.
  • CYCLE ROUTE from Sapporo Station: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/33017345


Route Timing
Up | 0.5hrs
Down | 0.5hrs

This route does the loop in an anti-clockwise direction. Either direction is fine. From the campground, head directly west towards the forest. You’ll soon come to a chain across the road. If the Forest Tree Breeding Center is open to the public, carry on northwest for about 600m, and take a sharp left-turn. If the Tree Center is not open to the public, head back to the campground and do a half-loop in the opposite direction, across the reservoir dam. Assuming you’re still doing the full loop in an anti-clockwise direction, in just under 300m, you’ll come to another chain across the road, with a sign on your side of the chain, depicting a large Nopporo Forest Park map. From here, you’re officially in the Nopporo Forest Park. Descend down the narrow gravel road to the four-way junction. There’s a nice pagoda, and clean public toilets to your right. Take the left trail – this is the Shikibi Trail (四季美コース). You’ll be on this trail for about 800m, with much of that along the southwestern edge of the Osawa Reservoir. Just before the 800m point, you’ll see a white sign across an old trail to your left. Ignore this, and walk another 10m or so along the main Shikibi Trail. You’ll see bright pink tape tied to trees, and a relatively well-worn narrow trail heading into the forest on the left. Follow this trail as it detours its way around some recent typhoon-deadfall. It soon joins up again with a straight, wider path which drops down to the reservoir dam. Cross the dam, and take a right onto the main gravel road. Take a left into the well-kept sports center grounds soon after, and make a short loop back to the campground.


Public transport:

The campground is about a 10 minute walk from the Nopporo Undo-koen Bus Stop (野幌運動公園バス停), outside the large sports center, here. Google Maps has good public transport directions and timetables.

By car: 

The campground has a large parking area, here.



Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Nopporo (野幌) – map no. NK-54-14-6-4

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

As alluded to in the General Notes section, the Forestry Research Center section of this route may have machinery operating, particularly on the weekdays (unlikely on the weekends). This section of the route is very much at-your-own-risk. If in doubt, give this section a miss. Also note that the trail across the reservoir dam crosses a concrete out-flow channel, which will, for the most part, be dry. This may, however, flood quickly after heavy rain. Do not attempt to cross the outflow if there is water running down it. Make sure to carry a navigation device and map of some sorts, as this route is not signposted – Nopporo Forest Park can be disorienting sometimes.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Osawa Reservoir (Nopporo Forest Park)

Onsen nearby

There’s no onsen in close proximity to the campground. If heading back to Sapporo, consider dropping in to the Shinrin-koen Onsen Koyora (森林公園温泉きよら, location, 450yen), on the western side of Nopporo Forest Park.

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 areas of central Hokkaido with a local certified guide, then contact Jun Ishiguro. He’s a JMGA (Japan Mountain Guides Association) mountain guide on the board of directors of the Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA). As a senior figure in the Hokkaido guiding scene, and with extensive experience, he can tailor trips to your needs. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Japan never had a mandatory stay-at-home lockdown like other developed countries in early 2020. Prefecture governors issues stay-at-home requests to prefecture citizens, strongly urging them to avoid non-essential outings. In Hokkaido, we experienced such state of emergencies twice in the first half of 2020. The later one ended at midnight on May 31. So, we celebrated our new-found freedom on the following weekend by having an adventure close to home – the Nopporo Forest Park just east of Sapporo City. We made it an overnight trip, staying for the first time at the basic but nice Ebetsu City Forest Campground. While Haidee and I stayed Friday and Saturday nights, a few of our friends came to stay on Saturday night.

Seeing that it was only a 12km cycle from our place in Atsubetsu Ward in Sapporo City to the campground, Haidee and I left home at about 6:45pm on the Friday evening. This meant we arrived at the campground at just before 8pm, as the light of the day was fading. Being an overnight trip close to home, I did not pack light. The mighty Tern Verge Tour folder gobbled up the load with ease. In one of those back panniers is a large box of charcoal, and a heavy free-standing grill.

After falling asleep the previous night in our tent to the soothing white-noise of thousands of frogs croaking their throats out in the next-door reservoir, we woke the next morning to a mostly sunny day. First on the list was to try making a large, circuitous loop of the reservoir to the south of the campground on foot. While the official Japan topomap data doesn’t show a trail across the reservoir dam, Open Street Maps does. This makes perfect sense, of course. Why would you not have good access from the Ebetsu Forest Campsite to the Nopporo Forest Park?

We opted to do the loop in an anti-clockwise direction, since we knew paths and roads existed at least on the first 75% of the route in that direction. Haidee didn’t get very far before being distracted by a large patch of daisies blooming along the northern border of the campground.

We soon got on our way. We’d wandered around this area the previous weekend (ostensibly exercise…Sapporo was still under a stay-at-home request order), and were a bit confused at seeing a number of walkers walking along the marked trails through the Forest Tree Breeding Center, but at the same time, seeing ‘keep out’ signs posted at entrances. Campground staff also seemed relatively nonchalant about us accessing the forest park via the Forest Tree Breeding Center. “We see lots of people going via there,” they said.

With no small amount of trepidation, we hastily made our way through, and into the Nopporo Forest Park proper.

EDIT: Later, I (Rob) found on the website of the Forest Tree Breeding Center that indeed the Forest Tree Breeding Center is closed to the general public from the 25th of May till 30th of September 2020, due to earthworks (details here).

It felt all quite hot and dry on the walk through the forestry area, but once we were in the shade of the native forest in the park, it was cool and dark. Fuki plant was growing rampant next to the trail. Dappled light dotted the surroundings.

At the four-way junction, we swung a left down the Shikibi Trail. We’d cycled this trail many years ago with colleagues from work. Haidee mentioned it was nice to be enjoying it at a walking pace. Near the reservoir, Haidee spotted a number of diving ducks, some with chicks in tow.

Soon we arrived at where Open Street Maps told us there was a trail to the reservoir dam. It didn’t look very promising. A few meters further down the trail, however, we spotted pink tape tied to trees, clearly marking a detour around some recent typhoon dead-fall. This got us on track to the reservoir. 

Once across the reservoir, we added another 20 minutes onto the walk by doing a short detour into the well-kept Ebetsu sports grounds. 

We tried very hard, and succeeded, in resisting the urge to have soba noodles for lunch at the soba restaurant right next to the campground. We’d eaten there the weekend previous – alas we did not resist then. Hand-cut noodles along with gorgeous delicately fried tenpura. It was really good. But this weekend, we’d lugged an entire cooler box to the campground on the back of my bike, full of fresh food to cook. So we headed back to the campground, and I cooked us up a quick lunch of yaki-soba (not to be confused with buckweat-noodle soba).

The rest of the troupe arrived mid-afternoon. Simon and Alex arrived by car, stacked to the brim with car-camping luxuries. Including salted chocolate cake with cardamom-flavoured kefir-mascarpone icing, of course. Thanks Alex! After Saoka arrived at 4pm, we all walked the Osawa Reservoir loop again before enjoying a relaxing BBQ dinner at the campground. Michael arrived late after work, at 9pm. He strung up his hammock between two trees, and we were all in our tents at 10:30pm.

The next morning broke to grey skies and a general dampness. It hadn’t rained overnight, but a heavy dew had fallen. The highlight of the breakfast rituals was Michael’s first-generation Biolite stove. He’d bought it on the original Kickstarter campaign about six years ago. “It came in really handy during the earthquake blackouts in 2018,” he said. 

After breakfast, we embarked on another walk, this time to the east of the campground. I was keen to see if we could link up a loop around the Sakurazawa Reservoir to the northeast of the sports grounds. After a few instances of walking around in circles, we did manage to complete a loop, but much of it was inside the Forest Tree Breeding Center (officially closed to the general public from May till September in 2020 – as we discovered after the fact). This route is very much still on the drawing-board.

With the walk done, Simon and Alex went on their way, and us cyclists geared up to make the short 12km bike ride back to Sapporo – actually about 25km for Saoka, as she lives closer to the center of Sapporo. Before we left, however, I sent the drone up for some aerial shots (checking DID Check to make sure I was legal beforehand though).

From this perspective, it really tells a lot about how expansive Nopporo Forest Park is.

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Osawa Reservoir Loop Walk (Nopporo Forest Park) Difficulty Rating





Vertical Gain



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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.