Pinneshiri to Apoi-dake Traverse


Posted on Nov 9, 2023

Posted on Nov 9, 2023

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Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

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The Apoi-dake アポイ岳 (810m) to Pinneshiri ピンネシリ (958m) traverse is easily the best high-level ridgeline dayhike in the southern Hidaka Range 日高山脈. Hikers traverse the pronounced north-south ridgeline through the specially-protected Apoi-dake Alpine Plant Area アポイ岳高山植物群落, with spectacular views for the duration of the hike. The ridge is surprisingly rocky and rugged in places, with an incredible diversity of flora along the way. This is arguably the best bang-for-your-buck when it comes to tasting what the Hidaka Range offers in views, geology, and terrain, and it's part of the UNESCO Apoi-dake Geopark.

We visited this route on Oct 09, 2023

Hikers: Timbah, Tim, Geri, Saoka.


Route Map

Need to know details


The Pinneshiri to Apoi-dake ridge is a low-level alpine ridge in the southern Hidaka Range in south-central Hokkaido, just a stone’s throw from Cape Erimo. It’s within the Apoi-dake Geopark area. In this post we describe hiking from the remote Pinneshiri trailhead (here) in the north to the Apoi-dake trailhead near the coast in the south (here). This traverse can be done either way, however. That said, starting in the north means overall less ascent.

General notes

Apoi-dake is a very popular hike in its own right. Within the UNESCO Apoi-dake Geopark zone, approximately 10,000 people climb to the peak in any given year (source), with the vast majority simply bagging the peak from the southern trailhead and then returning the way they came. The up-and-back hike is about four hours return. For hiking groups with two vehicles (or a willing non-hiking driver), however, it is well worth considering hiking the full north-south traverse along the length of the Apoi-dake Alpine Plant Area アポイ岳高山植物群落 from the Pinneshiri trailhead (here) all the way south to Apoi-dake – a one-way hike of around seven hours. This will allow for a full experience of the vast diversity in plant life, topography, and geology of the area.

Route Timing

The full north-to-south traverse takes around seven hours to complete. If hiking from south to north, you’ll have about 400m of extra ascent to deal with, so hikers should add another hour or so to compensate for this extra time climbing.


Starting from the north, at the Pinneshiri trailhead (437m), start hiking south up to the Pinneshiri summit (958m), about 2.5 hours. The trail is narrow and a little overgrown in places, but clear. This same narrow trail continues another 2.5 hours or so to Yoshida-dake (758m), a minor peak not named on the Japan government topomaps. This section of the hike includes walking through beautiful low-lying sasa bamboo-grass fields. From Yoshida-dake it’s just under an hour to Apoi-dake (810m) along a much more defined trail, bounded by ropes running either side of the trail. This section of the trail is completely different in nature again. In places you’ll be flanked by high rocky bluffs and bare rocks.

Apoi-dake will no doubt be a shock to the system after almost five hours of hiking in relative solitude. You’re likely to see a number of hikers at the spacious Apoi-dake peak, sitting and resting near the summit shrine. The descent from Apoi-dake is one of the main highlights of the hike. For the majority of the descent you’ll be hiking down towards the Pacific Ocean, the expanse of which is always in view. From the 5th-station hut, you’ll be hiking in the cool shade of broad-leaf trees all the way to the Apoi-dake trailhead.


Public transport:

The southern end of the traverse, the Apoi-dake trailhead, is accessible by local bus – Apoi-sanso Bus Stop アポイ山荘バス停 (location) is near the trailhead. Google Maps has timetabling information.

By car: 

At the Pinneshiri Trailhead, there’s room for about five cars to park. The gravel road to access the trailhead is narrow in places, but is suitable for 2WD vehicles. The Apoi-dake Trailhead is replete with an information center, car parks, onsen, outdoor faucets etc – it’s very well appointed, with plenty of parking.


Apoi-dake 5th Station Hut (full details here)

The Apoi-dake 5th Station Hut was never designed for recreational overnight stays. It’s a hinan-goya 避難小屋 – an emergency hut/shelter. As such, it’s a very basic shelter, with a dirt floor and raised wooden platforms just large enough to lay down on. It is available for use year-round.

Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Apoidake (アポイ岳) – map no. NK-54-3-16-3

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

Note that the northern half is quite remote, and doesn’t see much foot traffic. Also, this is most certainly bear country, so make sure to take precautions.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Apoi-dake to Pinneshiri Traverse

Onsen nearby

Apoi-sanso アポイ山荘 (location, 500yen) has a beautiful onsen available for day visitors. There are expansive views across to the Pacific Ocean from the outdoor bath. They have an attached restaurant and hotel.

Extra Resources

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 plan was to hike Rakko-dake on Saturday, so Saoka suggested since we were in the area, we also do the Pinneshiri to Apoi-dake traverse.

“We’ll have two cars, so that will make the shuttle convenient,” Saoka reasoned.

In the end, Haidee’s knee was giving her grief on that weekend, so she volunteered not to hike on the Sunday and dropped us all off at the remote Pinneshiri trailhead. 

This was somewhat of a special hike, as Geri, a regular adventure buddy previously, was visiting from the UK. She was back in Hokkaido for a few weeks, after moving back to the UK a few years ago. It felt like good old times. The last time we’d hiked with Geri was the Daisetsuzan Grand Traverse in August 2021.

From the Pinneshiri trailhead, the trail started out in forest with a variety of plants and trees. At this point the trail was well defined and wide in most places.

The trail soon broke through the treeline and we found ourselves on a steep slope covered with alpine plants, the such of which I’d usually associate with much higher altitudes; we were only at around 700m.

For the next hour or so, we found ourselves walking along a narrow trail on the exposed, treeless ridgeline for about half of the distance between Pinneshiri and Yoshida-dake. Views were stellar, and we were appreciative of the very mild weather. Had the normal Hidaka Range winds been blowing, we would have been very exposed.

Before we arrived at Yoshida-dake, we again dropped below the treeline, and spent some time walking through gorgeous sasa bamboo-grass fields. At just over shin-height, the areas looked as though they’d been carefully cultivated. Out of the sasa ‘lawns’ grew white birch shirakaba trees, contrasting against the green.

We were just under half way through the hike, and already we’d experienced a great deal of diversity in plant life.

Just as we’d had our fill of the sasa fields, we were spat out of the thickets and into a new landscape. This one was defined by naked rocky outcrops and more high alpine vegetation – despite the relatively low altitude. The trail was also more defined and maintained here. Ropes laid along the ground framed the trail, keeping hikers within the bounds of the trail.

At the junction of the Yoshida-dake trail – a short 2-minute detour off the main trail – we saw our first evidence of the Apoi-dake Geopark infrastructure. A well-built sign informed us of the characteristics of Yoshida-dake. An outcrop of rock dotted with peridotite, apparently.

The short hike from Yoshida-dake to the summit of Apoi-dake again felt like a completely different world. Rocky outcrops got rockier. Views got more impressive, now giving us glimpses of the vast Pacific Ocean to the south.

After around five hours hiking without seeing any other hikers than our group, the summit of Apoi-dake was somewhat of a shock. The broad summit was clearly well-trafficked by regular hikers, and today was no exception. There were at least five other parties lounging at the summit, taking photos and eating lunch.

We did the same.

We’d chosen to do the full traverse from north to south, because this would allow us less overall climbing. Now it was time for us to make the final 700m descent down to the Apoi-dake trailhead.

We were now passing ascending hikers as we descended, many in light clothing, some in jeans and t-shirts. The views of the Pacific Ocean were like the icing on the cake of a beautifully varied hike.

At around the 5th Station Hut, we left the treeline behind and spend the rest of the descent enveloped in beautifully shady trees. Up to this point, the hike had been mostly dry, with no streams or water sources. The trail was now wet with water seeping from the hillside, with small streams here and there.

Being late in the season, Saoka was pointing out all the interesting mushrooms she noticed. Mushroom identification is her newest thing.

As we were just emerging from the forest, we saw Haidee hiking up towards us.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes,” I said, happy to see that our driver for the day had made it safely to pick us up.

“I was just about to hike up to see you guys,” she said.

We all walked to the trailhead where we scrubbed our muddy boots and then headed straight to Apoi-sanso Onsen for a soak.

Quite possibly one of the most varied and interesting hikes I’ve done in Hokkaido so far.

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Pinneshiri to Apoi-dake Traverse 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.