Distance: 17.9 km
Elevation change: 30 metres
Highest point: 565 metres
Start: Lake Okutama Bus Stop
Finish: Miyama-bashi Bus Stop
Wandering the Gentle Shores of Lake Okutama
The Okoi-no-michi 奥多摩湖いこいの路 is a 12 km mostly flat walking path that winds around the banks of Lake Okutama in western-most Tokyo. The trail stretches from the Ogouchi Dam to the Yama-no-furusato-mura a Tokyo metropolitan natural park. The trail opened in April 2007 and is ostensibly a continuation of the Okutama Mukashi Michi. Fit and fast hikers could foreseeably combine them into one massive, long day hike. Note the trail is closed in winter from December 1st to the 2nd Thursday of April and at other times in the event of heavy rain.
The Ogouchi Dam which marks the start of the trail is a 15-minute bus trip (360 yen) from Okutama Station. From the Okutama-ko Bus Stop walk across the top of the 185,400 megalitre dam which was completed in 1957 and remains instrumental in safeguarding Tokyo’s water supply. For more information about the colossal effort that went into constructing the Dam check this blog post. At the far side of the dam wall there is a cenotaph which honours the 87 workers who lost their lives in the process of construction as well as the entrance of the Okoi-no-michi.
The first two kilometres follows a graded forestry road before narrowing to a walking path as it weaves deep into the inlets of the lake. The surrounding forest here is home to a large troop of Japanese macaques Nihonzaru. While there are no particular hazards the trail has a fair amount of leaf litter hiding rocks, which could easily twist an ankle. Numerous sheltered rest spots are dotted along the route and information boards draw attention to the local flora and fauna. Distance signposts are installed at 200 metre intervals making it easy to gauge your pace.
Just before you reach Ikoi-no-Hiroba around the midway point which has a restroom there is a water hole and one final view of the dam wall before you begin to track more westerly. From this point forward one minor nuisance worth mentioning is the noise created by motorcycle speed demons up on the Okutama Shuyu Doro thinking their Valentino Rossi.
A good place to take lunch is a picturesque rest spot just after the 10 km signpost and was the only time I passed hikers heading in the opposite direction. A little further on finds the Yama-no-furusato-mura 山のふるさと村 which maintains an information center and the Yama no Furusato Village Campground. This also marks the official end of the path. To get to the Mugiyama-Ukihashi (floating bridge) 麦山の浮橋 and Ogouchi-jinja bus stop continue for 2.5 km along the Kohan-no-komichi and a further 2.5 km after that following the Okutama Shuyu Doro to reach the Miyama-bashi bus stop 深山橋 for the return trip to Okutama Station (30 mins, 590 yen).
If the bridge is available it’s worth calling by the Ogouchi Shrine which memorialises the nine shrines from the former village. If you’re continuing to the Miyama Bridge, you’ll pass the Mt. Mito trailhead and walk under a support pylon and cable lines which once drove the Okutama Ropeway. Finally, just before crossing the bridge there is popular soba restaurant overlooking the lake.