Hiking season in Shiga Kogen (Shiga Highlands in english) lasts from late May to early November. In this post, we are covering a trek that starts at the bottom of our hotel, the Okushiga Kogen Hotel, located at the very top of Shiga Kogen Highlands in Nagano, Japan.
Today we went on a neat, only-in-japan, excursion. Where else can you go on a trail that ends with a shinto monument overlooking a lake! The Chigo-Ike (translates to Chigo Lake) trail is a difficult, 2 hour hike, that starts at the bottom of Okushiga Mountain – you gain 500 meters in elevation, starting at 1500 m and ending at 2000 m. The trail goes straight up, pretty much the entire time, but the view at the top makes it worth it. I’m serious. The lake, or Chigo-Ike, at the top is part of a National Preserve and can’t be developed, so when you’re up there, you feel like you’re in another world. If you’re not in great shape or don’t feel like walking all the way up, you can also drive up to the summit.
Starting from the Okushiga Kogen Hotel, walk straight up to the trailhead past the first chairlift.
Take a slight detour and walk to your right to see this awesome treehouse!
Go back to the trailhead and follow the path marked off with green rope.
You may see some cars driving up, too, but it’s usually a quiet area
Today, though, we opted for a workout and decide to walk up! Follow the green rope until you hit the gravel road.
From this point on, you’ll be walking straight up on the paved road. In the winter, these are part of the ski slopes.
On the way, you’ll see some incredible butterflies – they were flying everywhere today!
At about the halfway point, you’ll be met with this view. Can you spot the hotel?
Walk all the way up, past the chairlift and gondola points that you’ll see on your path. When you’re almost to the top, you’ll see some wooden stairs. Go up these stairs – they’ll take you to the Chigo-Ike summit.
At the top, you’ll see this sign pointing into the woods. Follow it.
Wow. No words. We stopped here and sat for about 20 minutes. The silence, coupled with this view, really took our breath away.
Follow the wooden boards back out the to the main trail and go back from where you came, back down the mountain!
Now, its time to kick back on the terrace for lunch! Pretty cool view, right?
Overall, this trail was pretty neat. Even though you’re walking up paved roads, which the traditional hiker (including us) doesn’t love to do, the views at the top and along the way make up for it. We would recommend that anyone who isn’t in great shape take the car up to the summit – the hotel would gladly arrange any trips up for you. For those who want to walk, happy hiking!