Yubaridake 夕張岳

Location: Yubari City (Sorachi)
Elevation: 1668m (~1100m elevation gain)
Length: Full day (14km roundtrip)
Hiked on: July 21st, 2016

Mount Yubari is the second highest peak in the Yubari Range after Mount Ashibetsu. The mountain can be climbed from two different sides, the west side being served by the Oyubari Course (大夕張コース) and the east side being served by the Kanayama Course (金山コース). The Oyubari course is the more popular of the two and the one described in this post.

The trail head is located deep in the mountains and with the long forest road only being open from June to September access is somewhat inconvenient even by Hokkaido standards. The most popular time to hike is in June when the alpine flora are at their peak.
Coming from Sapporo, drive towards Shuparo Lake on Route 452, and you’ll see the sign marking the turn off that will take you across the man-made lake. Keep following the road which will turn into a gravel forest road and eventually you’ll get to the parking lot at the trail head with a toilet.

The trail quickly divides into two, with the Uma-no-se (馬の背) Course climbing up a ridge and the Hiyamizu (冷水) Course following a gully. Most people go up the longer but gradual Hiyamizu Course and come down the steep Uma-no-se course, but I always find steep climbs easier than steep descents and did the hike in the opposite direction. A few minutes into the Uma-no-se Course you’ll get to the impressive Yubari Hutte, reminiscent of mountain huts in the Yatsugatake Range. You can stay the night for 1,500 yen if you wish or just pick up a commemorative badge for 500 yen. The hut is also where the real trail begins.

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The climb is steep straight from the get go, and you’ll be steadily gaining elevation for a good hour and a bit until you get to the bit where the trail joins back with the Hiyamizu course. There are a couple viewpoints before the trail wraps around Maedake. I heard a bear in the woods just up from the trail around this point, so you may want to make some noise when going through this section (or the whole hike in general.)

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After passing by Maedake you’ll enter the Maedake Marshland, where the trail flattens out and there are wooden platforms to make for easy walking. The variety of flowers and the strange rock formations here and there make for a surreal experience. Once you get through the marshland the trail begins gaining elevation again, ending in the final steep climb up to the summit.

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Just below the summit you’ll see a shrine with a metal torii gate and a large space that seems rather suitable for camping (although camping is most likely forbidden there). From there it’s 5 more minutes up to the summit where you get a nice panoramic view. On the day I climbed I could only see Ashibetsudake to the north, however you should get a nice view of the Daisetsuzan and Tokachi Ranges to the north, as well as the Hidaka Range to the south on a clear day.

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The way back is long but easy, as you can pretty much run through the marsh and the Hiyamizu Course is a nice and easy descent. There is a point where you can collect water on the Hiyamizu course, however it is pretty much just creek water so I’d be weary of drinking from it. You can get water about 2/3 of the way into the marshland as well.

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To be honest there are probably more impressive hikes than Yubaridake in Hokkaido, especially considering the long access, however walking through the marshland did feel pretty damn good. Perhaps it’s better to stick to the peak flower season, if you can deal with the crowds.

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