Teshio-gawa Onsen Hills Walk


Posted on Sep 23, 2020

Posted on Sep 23, 2020

1 0








Highest point



Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)

Best season





About 250m from the Teshio-gawa Onsen Canoe Port (天塩川温泉カヌーポート), there's a small network of well-signposted but woefully overgrown walking trails, clearly more popular with the resident wild deer than the resident humans. After bush-bashing your way to the upper end of these trails, there's no view to enjoy. Just a knob surrounded in trees. But on a six-day down-river canoe journey on the Teshio River, this may be just what the doctor ordered after three days of sitting on one's posterior. Better yet, after stretching the legs working up a sweat climbing up the trail, there's a gorgeous open-air onsen (Teshio-gawa Onsen, 天塩川温泉) awaiting just below a free campground at the entrance to the route.

We visited this route on Sep 09, 2020


Route Map

Need to know details


Teshio-gawa Onsen (天塩川温泉) is about 60km north of Shibetsu, one of the upper starting locations of the great Teshio River canoe journey in northern Hokkaido. This walk starts just above the Teshio Riverside Campground, here.

General notes

When we did this walk in August 2020, there were brand new route map signs at the entrance of the various trails, which made us blindly expect that the trails would be just a nicely maintained as the signs. They weren’t. We spent one-and-a-half blissful hours wandering up trails that appeared to get more deer traffic than human traffic. There was no clearly defined trail of any sort, besides old cuttings for the track. We did our bit to clear the trail by stamping down the fuki-no-to rhubarb-like growths on the trail. At a few points we had to clamber over small downed saplings.

As such, this is hardly going to be a destination in it’s own right. But for those (such as us) who are keen for a quick stretch-of-the-legs, this network of trails suffice. At points along the way there are also glimpses of the Teshio River below.

Route Timing

We took about 1 hour on the climb up, and about 30 minutes on the walk back down to the campground.


Start at the lower trailhead, just above the campground, around here. There’s a sign with trails marked. We recommend taking a photo of this sign. The higher you climb, the fewer signs there are. There’s no one single trail – this area is more of a network of interconnected trails. The route we eventually took followed a northern side of the central loop to the ‘summit’, and the southern side of the loop on the way back down, if that makes any sense at all. There’s no summit per se. Just an upper knob with no view. Gloriously pointless hiking at its finest. Regardless of where you end up walking, it’d be pretty difficult to get properly lost.


Public transport:

The sleepy little Teshio-gawa Onsen JR station (天塩川温泉駅, location) on the Soya Line is about 1km from the Teshio-gawa Onsen. See Google Maps for up to date train timetables. The Teshio-gawa Onsen canoe port (天塩川温泉カヌーポート, location) is about a 250m walk to the campground.

By car: 

There is plenty of parking in the campsite parking lot, here. If for some reason that parking lot is full, there’s even more parking just down the road at the onsen parking area, here.



Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Onnenai (恩根内) – map no. NL-54-12-9-3

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

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Teshio-gawa Onsen Hills

Onsen nearby

The Teshio-gawa Onsen (天塩川温泉, location, 400yen) is just below the start of the walking route. Just below the campground, the onsen has some great views of the river and surrounding landscape from the outdoor pools. There’s also an attached restaurant and hotel accommodation too.

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

Support us

Like this content? Buy the HokkaidoWilds.org team a coffee. 50% of tips go to the Hokkaido Wilds Foundation.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

We’d rushed past Teshio-gawa Onsen with great regret on our mad dash down the Teshio River in our canoe, about three days prior. We were trying to make the most of a favourable weather window to complete the full trip to the sea, and in the end this paid off – we completed the trip in four days instead of six. 

This did, however, give us two days at the end of the trip to explore some of the spots we’d missed out on when we were travelling the river in the canoe. So we set up our tent at the free Teshio-gawa Onsen campground, and spent a morning exploring the canoe port down by the river, and trails behind the campground.

By the looks of the trail map signs at the bottom of the network of trails above the campground, we weren’t really expecting any issues with the trails. Indeed, the first few hundred meters of trail was actually quite pleasant, with wide, hardly-trodden trails through sparse forest. There wasn’t really any worn path, just cleared undergrowth.

This didn’t last long, however. By hook or by crook we were going to make it to the upper end of the trails marked on the trail signs, but this entailed a fair bit of under-growth-bashing. The only footprints we encountered were those of deer.

In places with better canopy cover, there was a faint foot trail. But such sections were few and far between.

We weren’t really complaining too much though. We were enjoying the use of our legs after four days on the river.

In places, there were views across the valley and down to the river.

We eventually made it to the upper end of the trail. It finished abruptly at a knob surrounded by trees. We gobbled down some snacks and promptly began the descent.

Overall it was a good blat in the hills, and it made the lunch-time hot spring soak all the better.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this Teshio-gawa Onsen Hills route? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See More Like this

Printable Teshio-gawa Onsen Hills Topomap


Download may take some time

Hokkaido Wilds Foundation

We’ve got affiliate links on HokkaidoWilds.org to help fund the Hokkaido Wilds foundation.

The Foundation gets a small commission on sales from affiliate links, but we only link to stuff we think is worth checking out for people keen on the outdoors in Hokkaido and Japan.

The Hokkaido Wilds Foundation is a fund where 100% of funds are donated to Hokkaido volunteer groups involved in sustainable, safe, and responsible access to the Hokkaido outdoors.

Learn more here


Filter by location

About Filters

REGION: The general mountain/geographical region the route is in.

BEST MONTH(S): Time of year a route is suited to visiting. Some pop all season, some are more limited.

DIFFICULTY: How strenuous a route is, and how technical it is. Full details here.

FREERIDE/SKITOUR: Very subjective, but is a route more-of-a-walk-than-a-ski or the other way around? Some routes are all about the screaming downhill (freeride), some are more about the hunt for a peak or nice forest (ski-tour). Some are in between. 

MAIN ASPECT: Which cardinal direction the primary consequential slope is facing, that you might encounter on the route. More details here.

ROUTE TAGS: An eclectic picking of other categories that routes might belong to.

SEARCH BY LOCATION: You can find routes near your current location – just click on the crosshairs (). You may need to give permission to HokkaidoWilds.org to know your GPS location (don’t worry, we won’t track you). Or, type in a destination, such as Niseko or Sapporo or Asahikawa etc.

Please let us know how we can make it easier to narrow down your search. Contact Rob at rob@hokkaidowilds.org with your suggestions.

Teshio-gawa Onsen Hills Walk 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.