Jozankei Tengudake 定山渓天狗岳

Location: Jozankei, Sapporo
Elevation: 1144m (700m elevation gain, ~900m total change)
Length: Half-day+ (10km roundtrip)
Hiked on: October 23rd, 2015

In the southwestern part of Sapporo City, Jozankei is a great area to hike. The mountains are low, but much craggier and densely forested. There isn’t as thick an undercover of sasa, which feels rather liberating after walking the tunnels of bamboo that are common in other parts of Hokkaido.

Jozankei Tengudake is located right in the heart of Jozankei, about a 15 minute from the centre of Jozankei’s onsen village. The hike begins at the Shiraifutamata parking lot off route  95. There is a small “hut” in the parking lot, with signage pointing to the right for Tengudake and left for Yoichidake. Go past the gate with a bear warning sign, and it’s a walk along a river backtracking the way you drove from. After around 30 minutes, you will see the trailhead proper to Tengudake. There is also a small sign saying “天狗岳3” (tengudake 3), the real trailhead is another 5 minutes walk from that one.

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The trail starts off fairly flat, going through a pleasant forest that is a great place to see the autumn colours in fall. You will eventually hit a waterfall, with ropes to climb up a steep slope next to it. From there the going gets a bit rougher, with the trail crossing a small (in fall) creek several times and going up some more steep rope-aided sections. The trail gets steeper, goinog up a dry (in fall) creek and eventually reaching the col between the main summit block of Tengudake (peak 1) and peaks 2 and 3.

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It’s a steep final climb up to the summit block with more ropes, and can be a bit sketchy in late fall when the ground is frozen and/or covered in snow. Eventually you’ll pop up to the top, where you follow a ridge with cliffs in either sides more a few minutes until you get to the very top. The summit isn’t too spacious and some spots can be a bit scary. Still it’s a cozy spot and the views are great, with Lake Sapporo, created by the Jozankei Dam, right below.

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I wasn’t expecting much from this hike, but it ended up being a bit more tough than I’d expected, but also more interesting as well. There’s tons of variety in the forest and autumn is a beautiful time with the leaves in full colour. Best of all, it’s only an hour’s drive from the centre of Sapporo! Definitely recommended.

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