Mt. Myoko (妙高山）
Mt. Myoko is a steep, rocky, volcanic peak located just across the Nagano border in Niigata Prefecture. Famed for winter skiing and hot springs, the area is certainly worth exploring.
The hike: From the bus stop, head up the paved road past the hotels. The road will turn to gravel and you’ll see a signpost point the way to Mt. Myoko (妙高山). Additionally, you’ll pass by a really famous mixed, outdoor bath called Ougon-no-yu (黄金の湯), with milky white water. It looks like a great place to take a bath, so keep it in mind if you end your hike here. Anyway, the path initially follows a forest road through the Seki ski fields before reaching the trailhead proper. Follow the path for about an hour before arriving at 2 huge waterfalls. There is a section with a few chains and you’ll climb up and to the left of the falls. A few minutes past the falls you’ll see a path come in on your right. This will lead back to Tsubame hot spring, but there’s no need to turn back so soon. Cross the river, being very careful during periods of heavy rain if the river is swollen. Follow the paint marks and the path for about an hour to reach Tengudaira (天狗平), where you’ll find a junction. If you turn left then you’ll reach a forest road at the top of Ike-no-daira ski resort in about 20 minutes (an alternate way off the mountain). Ignore this path and turn right. You’ll pass by a small lake and will eventually reach the rocky summit area. There are a few chains bolted into the rocks, so use them to help you climb higher and higher. You should be sitting on the summit about 2 hours after leaving Tengudaira. On a clear day the views are outstanding. From here, you’ve got several options. You can continue traversing down the other side of Mt. Myoko and over to Mt. Hiuchi. If you’re only up for the day, then descend back to Tengudaira and either turn right to get to Ike-no-daira and Akakura Onsen Ski Resorts, or turn left and head all the way back to Tsubame. No matter which way you go, you’ll have plenty of options for a nice hot bath.
When to go: This hike can be done from mid July to late October. It’s also possible to go earlier in the season but be prepared for a lot of snow. The steep summit area is heavily prone to avalanches, so a winter ascent is not recommended.
Access: From Nagano station, take a local train on the JR Shinetsu line (JR信越線) and get off at Sekiyama (関山) station. The train takes about 40 minutes. From there, take a bus bound for Tsubame Hot Spring (燕温泉). Click here for the bus schedule. Depending on your plans, it might be more time efficient to take a taxi to the start of the hike (which should cost around 2000 yen or so).
Live web cam: Click here
Level of difficulty: 3 out of 5 (elevation change ~1200m).