Distance: 9.3 km
Elevation change: 445 metres
Highest point: 747 metres
Start: Tsuchiyama-toge Bus Stop
Finish: Hanbara Bus Stop
A Gateway Hike Towards Mt. Tanzawa
For those looking for a limbering up hike before tackling the Tanzawa Mountain Range, Mt. Bukka is a good starting point. The mountain has long been a popular haunt for United States Army folk stationed at nearby Camp Zama. The downside is if you’re coming from Tokyo you are made to take the train all the way to Hon-Atsugi Station on the Odakyu Line before having to ride a bus back up through the valley. This hike runs lengthwise along the range rather than up and down the shortest approach as some other bloggers have done. Be warned though the area like Mt. Tanzawa a haven for land leeches yama-hiru so pack some salt from early to late summer.
At Hon-Atsugi Station take the north exit and nosey across to the number 5 bus stop. On this particular weekday morning there were only a few of us lined up for the 07:40 bus. At Tsuchiyama-toge 土山峠 (50 mins, 560 yen) cross the road and backtrack 100 metres to the trailhead. From the bus stop it takes around an hour to reach the saddle at Kawagoishiyama (640 m) before the final push to the summit of Mt. Bukka 仏果山 also colloquially known as Bukkasan (747 m). In the springtime the “shinryoku” or fresh green livens up the backdrop interspersed with the occasional purple tsutsuji or azalea flowers.
Much of the trail follows the Kanto Fureai no Michi or the Metropolitan Area Nature Trail and is narrow at times with fixed ropes and ladders in place to maintain a secure footing. Both summits of Mt. Bukka and nearby Mt. Takatori 高取山 (705 m) have lookout towers which loom above the canopy providing a terrific bird’s-eye view. Note the trail continuing across to Mt. Takatori veers left from the summit of Bukkasan. Take lunch at either of these mountains with Mt. Takatori blessed with cherry blossom trees in mid-April.
After lunch the trail continues along the ridgeline passing through tracks of cypress (hinoki), cedar (sugi), fir (momi), nutmeg-yew (kaya) and hemlock (tsuga). The final section of stairs from the clearing above the Miyagase Dam 宮ヶ瀬ダム down to the road are eroded and poorly maintained. Once at the bottom you can either ride either the Miyagase Dam “Incline” or an elevator 120 metres down to the Aikawa Prefectural Park. Follow the road above the Nakatsugawa River to the Hanbara 半原 bus stop for the return ride to Hon-Atsugi Station (50 mins, 560 yen).