Location: Jozankei, Sapporo
Altitude: 1293m (800m elevation gain)
Length: Half-day+ (11km round trip)
Yotei-zan, Annupuri, Muineyama, Yoichidake, Shakotandake, Komagatake, Eniwadake, Tarumaezan, Poroshiridake, Yubaridake, Ashibetsudake, Tokachidake, Shokanbetsudake. These are some of the main peaks of Hokkaido that you can see from the summit of Sapporodake. Not bad for a hike that’s less than an hour’s drive from the core of its namesake city. Access is super easy. Turn off onto the road from the Number 230 Road, and follow the signs to Hoheikyo Dam. Just before reaching the parking of the Dam, you’ll see a a sign indicating Sapporodake Trailhead on the left side.
The trail is very well maintained, pretty much all the way up to the summit – no real danger of getting lost unless there’s still snow on the paths. The trail is fairly flat for the first half. Traveling along a creek, you across a logging road once, and eventually you’ll arrive at Hiyamizu Hut. It’s a nice place to take a break. there is also a place where you can fill up on water, but it’s not a “clean source” apparently, so drink at your own risk.
The trail continues around to the left side of the hut, and begins climbing, rather steeply at places. The trees soon start getting sparser and thinner. At the time I hiked, there was a stream coming down the trail from the snowmelt, so waterproof shoes are recommended. There’s also a possibility of getting lost when there’s snow on the ground, so look out for openings where the trail continues if you’re crossing a snowfield, especially on your way back down. Once you start seeing dwarf pines, you’ll be at the summit in a few minutes. It’s a very nice open area, with one side looking down towards Sapporo, and another side looking towards Lake Shikotsu. Views are fantastic, and on a clear day, you can see out as far as the Tokachi Range, the Hidaka Range, and down to Komagatake on the Oshima Peninsula.
The way down is rather quick until you get to the hut and the trail flattens out again. It was quite a pleasant walk and I passed by several younger (read: under 40) hikers, which is always nice to see. I thought I was gonna be the only one on the mountain! To be honest Sapporodake is a somewhat boring hike until you get to the top, but the fantastic views and the easy access from Sapporo definitely make it worthwhile.