Eniwadake 恵庭岳

Location: Chitose City/Eniwa City (Shikotsu-Toya National Park)
Elevation: 1320m (~1000m elevation gain)
Length: Half day+ (7km roundtrip)
Hiked on: June 5th, 2016

Towering over the vast Lake Shikotsu, Eniwa-dake is a very prominent peak characterized by the pointy pillar at its top, which can be identified easily from nearby Sapporo. There are a couple trailheads to the hike at the time of writing: the original hiking trail, called the Poropinai Trailhead starts right next to the three way intersection of roads going to Lake Shikotsu, Sapporo and Marukoma Onsen; the newer trail, or the “Shintozanguchi” starts further up Route 453 towards Sapporo. Both trailheads lead to the same trail up the mountain however, and it does not really matter where you start aside from one being closer to Sapporo and one being closer to Lake Shikotsu. I started the hike from the Poropinai trailhead.

Expect tons of fellow hikers on weekends, and the parking lot being full by 9am. Most people just park along the road but on a very busy weekend you may have some trouble parking. There are some dam like things at the start of the hike, which look like they are still under construction. It can be a bit confusing to figure out where you need to go, but keep skirting the left side of the valley and you’ll eventually see a sign indicating the start of the hiking trail.

For the first half or so, it looks like the trail has been rerouted in a few places due to fallen trees. Again it can be a bit confusing in places but the trail is very well marked with orange and pink tape, so keep an eye out for those. The trail gets quite steep from around 500m elevation, with ropes in some section to help you up the well-eroded trail. There is also a section where the trail splits into two (one for climbing and one for descending) so keep an eye out for that.

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You’ll eventually come out to an open rocky area with a good view of the summit and also Lake Shikotsu, called Dai-ichi Tembodai. From there the trail follows the ridge around the crater, continuing onto the Dai-ni Tembodai just before the summit block, which marks the official end of the trail. You will find the trail roped off at this point with an English sign explaining that you should not continue on to the true summit.

If you are not experienced in doing exposed scrambles, this is probably where you should turn around. Otherwise, you can choose to duck the rope and continue onto the summit, which is another 20 minutes or so from where the trail gets roped off.

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The trail will wrap around to the right, bring you to a point where you can scramble up to the top. The bit right before the summit is extremely sketchy, although someone has placed a rope to make things a bit easier. Take extreme care not to go around the right of the section with the rope, which initially seems like an easier way up, as the soil is extremely loose and every rock you grab onto/step on will pull out and slipping will mean you’ll fall a couple hundred kilometers down to the bottom of the crater.

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The actual summit is surprisingly spacious, and the views fantastic. The highlight is the view of the emerald green Lake Okotanpe to the west, which can only be seen from peaks immediately around it. You also get a full view of Lake Shikotsu, as well as a 360 view of most major peaks in the area and out as far as the Hidaka Range on a clear day.

Be cautious not to step on any loose rocks and send them rolling down onto climbers below, as the entire thing is on very loose volcanic soil. Going back down is even sketchier than coming up, and you’ll want to take it extra slow especially the first bit with the rope. I personally found the last bit of this hike much scarier than the Daikiretto.

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I’ve been putting this one off for quite a while now and wasn’t really sure if it’d be worth hiking, but it surprised me with its thrilling finish. Might not be a great choice though if you are looking to get away from the crowd.

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A quick trivia, the downhill skiing events for the 1972 Sapporo Olympics were held at Eniwadake, and there was even a ropeway coming up the opposite side of the mountain of the hiking trail, however there is no evident remains of it now. Sounds almost like a myth or a legend.

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