Fall. A time to relax and enjoy the leaves, and the cooler air. One way to enjoy the splendor of autumn is hiking in Hokkaido’s Niseko Annupri. The route detailed here is about 30 to 40min each way to Kyonuma (Mirror Lake), an easy trek for beginners. Easily one of the more quiet places to enjoy the autumn leaves, as few people come here. The best time to visit would have to be the beginning of October.
Let’s hit Kyonuma on the Niseko Annupri hillside in hiking gear!
For those looking to find the perfect autumn leaf watching location, look into Kyonuma on the Niseko Annupri hillside. Though it is spectacular, it doesn’t get too many visitors which is seriously appealing! It’s difficult to go leaf watching without the crowds usually but not here.
Here are the two ways to get to Kyonuma.
The first way is to take Route 58. There is a small sign for Kyonuma two or three minutes after passing the Flower Park gate, which is closed during winter. There is only a parking lot which can hold 2 to 3 cars and there is no restroom so take notice. Also don’t forget to register to enter the mountain. There are some ups and downs on the mountain path which is only about 30 to 40 minutes’ walk, with a small stream crossing along the way. Because of that crossing you definitely need some hiking or trekking shoes. The steep climbs aren’t long and the hike is short so as long as you are prepared even beginners can make it with no issues.
The other way to get there is by taking the Niseko Hirahu Gondola (Summer Gondola) to the station 1,000m above sea level. This way is basically a downhill hike to and an uphill hike from the lake. From the gondola station you cross the slope for 20 to 30 minutes towards the Number 3 Hanazono quad-lift. Then you walk the paved road for about 15 minutes to find a sign for Kyonuma on the right. Walk another 10 minutes on the hiking path. Taking about 50 minutes, it takes marginally more time than the Route 58 method, but this route is much easier to walk which is attractive. Also, there is ample parking at the gondola station at the bottom of the mountain and at the station above there are snack vendors where you can take a break. One thing to watch for is the time the gondola stops running. Get back to the top station before the closing time of 4:30pm. It is best to aim for a 4pm return just to make sure.
Living up to its name, Kyonuma becomes a mirror when there is no wind and it is sunny, reflecting the surrounding mountains beautifully. Take in the magnificent scenery along with the autumn leaves.
*there is a third way to go there from the Niseko Tokyu Golf Course parking lot but this way is much more of a climb in comparison. Having said that, the time to the lake is only about 50 minutes and doesn’t cost for the gondola trip and the parking lot is large so it does have its appeal.
View the bog’s brocade of color from the wooden path
The land around Kyonuma is a bog so getting there means you have to walk on the wooden path. But here you find wonderful colors put out by the grasses. Who knew a bog would hold such colorful beauty.
"Ukishima" the little island that drifts in the wind
There is a small island floating in Kyonuma. Made up of peat, it floats on the water. Normally near the north shoreline, occasionally it gets pushed out and drifts along by the wind. On the island, are the same plants in the bog making it seem like a tiny version of the bog that moves. It’s a remarkable piece of scenery that nature created.
Going to the top of Niseko Annupri to see the brocade of land.
For those who have lots of energy left, how about heading to the top of Niseko Annupri Mountain? The hike takes about 2 and half hours, starting from the hiking trail. You can take the hiking trail or walk under the ski lifts. Along the way are a couple spots that are confusing, if you get turned around look for signs or the pink tape. (It’s easy to get lost on this path so for beginners please go with a guide). For those that make it up the mountain is a view that is truly breath taking!
Facing Mount Yotei in autumn
From the top of Niseko Annupri there is another point of interest which is facing Mount Yotei. Mount Yotei is snowcapped in the autumn and is said to be the most beautiful then. There is actually another way to see Mount Yotei without the climb up Niseko Annupri. If you use the gondola when you get to the station which is 1000m above sea level you can see it in all its glory. A great option, for those who aren’t seasoned hikers.
Wash away sweat in a hot spring!
After hiking to Kyonuma or the top of Niseko Annupri wash away your sweat in an onsen (hot spring bath)! Niseko actually has many onsen. The closest to the hiking path is the “Waisu spa” or the “Goshoku Onsen” (five color hotsprings). If using the gondola try out “Hirafu Onsen” it’s very close by.
For those who want to enjoy autumn leaves but don’t want to do any hiking try heading to “Shinsennuma”. Only a 15 minute walk from its dedicated parking lot, with a well-tended wooden path even the little ones can go with ease. The only problem is this site is frequently crowded.
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