Distance: 14.5 km
Elevation change: 916 metres
Highest point: 1266 metres
Start: Mitake Cable lower station (Takimoto)
Finish: Okutama Station (Ome Line)
One of the Three Famous Peaks of Okutama
This hike introduces Mt. Odake 大岳山 another of the three famous peaks of Okutama along with Mt. Gozenyama and Mt. Mito. The trail’s convenience to Tokyo also makes it the easiest of these mountains to access. Given that the hike tends to be immensely popular, I would suggest avoiding long weekends and making an early start at other times. The popular hiking course described here starts from the top of the Mitake Tozan Cable 御岳登山ケーブル finishing at Okutama Station. On clear days the summit of Mt. Odake provides good south views towards Mt. Fuji, Mt. Daibosatsu and Mt. Hirogatake. The hike can be undertaken year-round, though it would be wise to carry crampons in winter as some patches are a touch exposed.
Access to the Mitake Tozan Cable is reached by taking a train to Mitake Station 御岳駅 on the JR Ome line and hopping on a bus which takes you to the lower station at Takimoto (10 minutes, 290 yen). The bus service runs at half-hourly intervals, corresponding with the Cable Car timetable. If you prefer not to ride the cable car, the option exists to walk the 420 metres of elevation gain from Takimoto to the upper cable car station, which takes around an hour.
The first section to the Mt. Mitake Shrine snakes its way through the rather quaint Oshi Village with its traditional wooden houses and thatched roofs. After making a short detour up to the Mt. Mitake Shrine look for signs pointing towards the Mitake Rock Garden 御岳ロックガーデン which takes a little over 30 minutes. The trail begins to steepen as you pass through coniferous forest and onto the delightful Nanayono waterfall. Next is another steep slope with exposed tree roots and iron stairs, which exits at the Rocken Garden trail. Here you will find the infamous Tenguiwa Rock 天狗岩 with two statues of Tengu – a half-man, half-bird beast with mystical powers, positioned on top and accessible by means of a precariously suspended chain.
From Tenguiwa Rock, follow the stream lined with maples for a 40-minute walk to the Ayahirono waterfall. Take a short rest here as the trail begins a rather steep ascent to the Mt. Odake (1,266 m) summit. About halfway along, you will pass by the dilapidated Odake sansou and Odake Shrine on your right. The final push to the summit follows a series of short switchbacks. Take extra care on slippery or icy boulders in the winter. The summit has plenty of rocks to perch on and hopefully enjoy some stunning scenery.
When you’re ready to head off, continue across the summit and take care descending the first steep section of the trail. The traverse across to Mt. Nokogiriyama 鋸山 (1,109 m) will take around 1 hour and 20 minutes, and again, some parts are challenging with fixed chains and metal ladders to help cope with the descent. The home stretch follows the Nokogiri Ridge, which feels rather interminable and cruelly punishing on the legs. When you hit the service road continue straight ahead, past the shrine and over the bridge crossing the Tama River. From Mt. Odake to Okutama Station, allow for 3–3.5 hours of walking time.