Distance: 17.2 km
Elevation change: 665 metres
Highest point: 857 metres
Start: Takaosanguchi Station (Keio Takao line)
Finish: Jinba Kougen Shita bus stop
Close-up View of Mt. Fuji from Tokyo
Located on the outskirts of Tokyo and within one hours travel of Shinjuku makes Takaosan 高尾山 (Mt. Takao) a favourite year-round retreat for Tokyoites. The drawback of this convenience are the crowds especially on weekends in dazzling weather. First and foremost, start the hike as early as humanly possible. For this traverse hike from Takaosan to Jinbasan I “waited around” for the first train from my local station allowing me to hit the trail a little before 06:30. While this might sound kind of early there was already quite a few hikers out and about.
From Takaosanguchi Station make a beeline for the Inariyama trail 稲荷山コース which begins left of the cable car. The first spot I was eager to reach was an observation deck around halfway along. On clear, sunny days the views from this lookout are excellent. Mt. Tsukuba could be distinctly made out as well as the Tokyo Skytree in the foreground. From here the trail starts to level out before arriving at a flight of steps which usher you to Mt. Takao (599 m). It takes roughly an hour to reach this point from the trail entrance. Mt. Fuji looked serene sporting a powdering of snow courtesy of the hatsuyuki (first snow) less than a week earlier. Nearby signboards caution the 5-hour trek across to Mt. Jinba however, it’s less than 4 hours at a moderate pace.
With fine weather in abundance I wasted little time departing for Mt. Shiroyama 城山 (670 m) and expectation of seeing plenty more fine vistas. Normally after the summit the day-trippers trickle off with most folk returning by cable car and chairlift. As you would expect for such a popular mountain the ridgeline is easy to follow though the trail often bisects or makes traverses for those wishing to skip a small peak or take a path less travelled. The refreshment stand come outdoor restaurant at Shiroyama was setting up in anticipation of busy Sunday. It was here on my Mt. Takao hike that I dropped down to Lake Sagamiko via the Tokai Nature Trail.
A little further along, next to at a derelict shelter I came across a chap selling some 1:12,500 scale Kibito Publishing topographic maps. I was rather impressed as they included some minor trails absent from the regular Yama-to-Kogen map. The next target is Mt. Kagenobu 景信山 (727 m) where you need go down and climb back up. At Kobotoke Pass 小仏峠 you can see the expressway and Chuo Line train tracks which tunnel beneath the mountain. A little before you reach the lodge there is a terrific spectacle towards Sagami Bay and I even managed to spot Enoshima with its lighthouse silhouetted on the horizon. Between here and Mt. Jinba you pass Mt. Dosho 堂所山 (731 m) though a short steep detour is required to access its mountaintop (view is obscured) and the ramshackle homestead at Meio-toge. The trail to the south dips down to Sagamiko Station which I used on my Mt. Jinba hike.
From this point on the number of hikers heading in the opposite direction started to grow. At first, they appeared in dribs and drabs but well before reaching sun bathed Mt. Jinba 陣馬山 (855 m) it had coalesced into veritable conga line. A nice spot to take lunch is on the grassy easement surrounding the concrete Jinba horse or on the seated veranda overlooking Fujisan. From Mt. Jinba to the Jinba Kougen Shita bus stop 陣馬高原下 you have two options. The first is heading down to Wada Pass 和田峠 though this route requires 4 km of roadside walking otherwise follow the ridge trail from the right of restrooms which pops out 1.3 km up from the bus stop. Either way allow around 1 hour travel time from the summit. The Nishi Tokyo Bus back to JR Takao Station (560 yen, 36 mins) only runs every hour so best to check the timetable in advance.