Sapporo-dake Traverse Hike

札幌岳

Posted on May 12, 2020
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Posted on May 12, 2020

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Reading time: 4 min
16km

Distance

7 hours

Time

1015m

Ascent

1293m

Highest point

7/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
Jun-Oct

Best season

Visible from the southern districts of Sapporo, the prominent pyramidal peak of Sapporo-dake (札幌岳, 1293m) appears as a worthy representative of the city, especially when crowned with snow. From the other side near Jozankei, however, the summit is a broad plateau gained after a steep ascent through forest. The usual summer route starts from near Hoheikyo Onsen, and is a fine day out. By using public bus services, however, a more adventurous expedition can be had by climbing the mountain via a wilder and less used path up the even steeper northern slopes and traversing over the summit to drop down the normal route to Jozankei.

We visited this route on Apr 30, 2012

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Sapporo-dake is just southwest of Sapporo City. The hike starts here, from the hamlet of Toyotaki 豊滝 halfway to Jozankei along Route 230 and ends close to Hoheikyo Onsen 豊平峡温泉, just south of Jozankei 定山渓.

General notes

According to the Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido (2010, p.119), the route up from Toyotaki was originally used by religious devotees but then fell into disuse. It is not for the inexperienced as it involves over 1000m of ascent, and is steep, rough and unsigned except for occasional pink tape on tree branches. The traverse is best done in this direction – from Toyotaki – though, to give you the pleasure of soaking away the exertions of the day in the wonderful rotenburo outside bath at Hoheikyo onsen (location). The out and back trip from the Jozankei side to the Sapporo-dake summit and back, a more straightforward but still very worthwhile day out in its own right, is briefly described at the end. The summer hiking season is from late May into November.

Hut

Mt. Sapporo Hiyamizu Hut (full details here)

Hiyamizu Hut is a two story, 81.89㎡ hut that sleeps 30 people. It was originally built in 1933, but burned to the ground in 1950. A replacement hut, which stands today, was built in 1952 (details in Japanese here). The hut is owned and managed by Hokkai Gakuen University (TEL: 011-841-1161), and is available for use from the 1st of Jan till 31st of October on the first and third weekends of the month.

Route

From Toyotaki: The first half of the route up to the summit itself is not well marked though the path is mostly clear. From the bus stop (here) walk south through the hamlet of Toyotaki and continue to where the road turns sharply right after 45 minutes or so. Continue straight on up a dirt road for a couple of hundred meters to the trailhead 豊滝登山口 (390m elevation) in a clearing with a gate across the road. From here continue up the forest road for another hour till it ends, and look for pink tape markers to locate the path by a small stream coming in from the right, soon crossing over. From here the trail climbs steeply up to gain a ridge, following this to finally merge with the main summit ridge in a bit under two hours. Here it joins the main traverse trail from Soranuma-dake 空沼岳 coming from the left. Turn right (west) and after a final steep pull reach the summit of Sapporo-dake in another half hour. From here the descent follows the usual summer route northwest across the gently descending plateau of shrub birch and haimatsu creeping pine for 15 mins, before dropping down to a col and then traversing across a hillside and down to the Hiyamizu Hut in about an hour from the summit. From here continue on down the narrow creek for another hour to the trailhead, though unfortunately it is still about another 25 mins down the road to Hoheikyo.

From Jozankei to Sapporo-dake Summit: The Hiyamizu trailhead 冷水登山口 (location) is at 340m a short way past Hoheikyo Onsen if coming by car, or a 25 min walk if on foot. The trail follows a narrow creek for the first hour and a half through occasional stands of plantation conifers to emerge at the Hiyamizu Hut 冷水小屋. Go left of the hut and climb steeply up and across the hillside to a flatter area followed by a short climb up to the plateau. From here it’s a stroll to the summit, an hour to an hour and a half from the hut.

Route Timing
Up | 4.5hrs
Down | 2.5hrs

The above times are for the traverse; for the out and back route from Jozankei allow about 5 hours.

Transport

Public transport:

For Toyotaki, take a local bus to Jozankei 定山渓温泉 (Jotetsu Bus, 011-572-3131) from Sapporo Station or Makomanai Station 真駒内駅 at the end of the Nanboku subway line. Get off at Toyotaki 豊滝 (here). Buses return roughly every hour to Sapporo Station from Hoheikyo onsen car park (here) into the early evening. There is also a faster bus, the Kappa Liner かっぱライナー, between Hoheikyo and Sapporo Station though the last departure back to Sapporo is in the late afternoon.

By car: 

For the out and back route from Jozankei, turn off Route 230 just south of Jozankei to Hoheikyo Onsen 豊平峡温泉. Continue past the onsen and turn left soon after up to the trailhead 登山口 just before the end of the road, here, about 5 minutes from the onsen.

Physical maps

Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図, No.2 Niseko Yoteizan ニセコ・羊蹄山. Published by Shobunsha 昭文社. 1:50000 hiking map in Japanese with marked routes and course times (the Sapporo region hills are at 1:85000).

Official Topo Map: Jozankei (定山渓) – map no. NK-54-14-15-1
Official Topo Map 2: Sapporo-dake (札幌岳) – map no. NK-54-14-15-2

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

route safety

This can be a dangerous place in bad weather with real risks of hypothermia for poorly equipped hikers. Conditions can change quickly, the summit plateau is very exposed to the wind and the upper slopes can be much colder than down at the trailhead. Carry appropriate gear. The stream crossings could be tricky after heavy rain. Despite being so close to Sapporo this is very much bear country.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Sapporo-dake

Onsen nearby

The closest onsen is the popular Hoheikyo Onsen (豊平峡温泉, location, 1000yen), with its large landscaped outside pool and Indian restaurant. There are many more just down the road in Jozankei.

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 1, 北海道夏山ガイド 1 ・道央の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha). These guides are updated every few years.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

It was the Golden Week holidays in late April and there was still plenty of snow on the tops, but the weather looked grand for a hike. I met up with Leon early in the morning at Makomanai station where we caught the bus that eventually dropped us off at Toyotaki. It was still nearly an hour’s walk up the road to the trailhead but it was a pleasant stroll through the hamlet and past scattered houses and allotments to the trailhead on the forest road.

Patches of snow lay on the road but there was that expectant sense of spring in the morning sunshine, the countryside awakening after the long winter. Soon everything would be bursting manically into life in a frenzy of bright green, but for now we were content with the little green bomb bursts of fuki no to by the side of the track. At the end of the road we crossed over the stream but the snow now covered the trail itself so we looked for pink marker tape in the trees. Periodically we came across traces of the track but for the most part we plodded up the steep slope in the soft snow. It was tough going. At one particularly steep point I had to resort to thudding the pick of my ice axe into a fallen tree in order to haul myself up.

The views behind us opened up as we climbed and we eventually emerged onto a flatter section below the main ridge connecting Sapporo-dake and Soranuma-dake. The remains of large cornices overhung the final short steep section but we found an easy way through. Once on the ridge Leon stopped for a bit while I continued along through haimatsu dwarf pine and shrub and up a final steep climb on soft snow to the summit. I sat there in the sun enjoying the view and watching Leon making his way up to rejoin me. From there we headed across the plateau and down via the hut to the Hoheikyo trailhead. Tired by now, the trudge down the paved road to the onsen was made more bearable by the thought of a hot soak and a curry. Fully recovered, we caught the bus back to Sapporo. While it had been a long day out, there is always something particularly satisfying about completing a traverse.

More recently I climbed up from the Hoheikyo trailhead with Jeff, again out of season. It was early December and there was not yet enough snow for skis, so we used snowshoes. The course of the trail was still mostly obvious despite the snow so it was a straightforward climb up to the summit plateau with its wide-ranging views. There was a cold wind on top so we hunkered down for a bite of lunch before returning for the obligatory soak in the rotenburo at Hoheikyo.

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