Distance: 11.4 km
Elevation change: 409 metres
Highest point: 670 metres
Start: Takaosanguchi Station (Keio Takao Line)
Finish: Sagamiko Station (Chuo Main Line)
Map: Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図 ［No.28 高尾・陣馬 TAKAO·JINBA］
Trudging Through Records Snow Falls to Mt. Takao
Mount Takao 高尾山 or as otherwise colloquially known as Takao-san is a popular recreational retreat on the outskirts of Tokyo and only a short 20 minute train ride from my neck of the woods. The hike can be easily accessed from Shinjuku Station by Special Express 特急 tokkyu, 39 minutes on the Keio Line or taking the Chuo Line to Takao Station and transferring for one station. Unlike weekends which are absurdly busy hitting the trails on a wintery Thursday morning seemed like a good plan. With Tokyo recording 4-6 cms of snow over the weekend – heaviest snowfall in seven years I was keen to see how the trail held up. Though Mt. Takao is only 599 metres I was pleasantly surprised to find it had indeed received a good dumping of snow cover. There are no fewer than seven different approaches to the summit with the easiest being a leisurely 5 minute funicular or ropeway ride halfway up the mountain. The slightly more adventurous which I embarked on was the Inariyama Trail 稲荷山コース which takes around 90 minutes to the top.
The goal for this hike was to side step the summit in favour of glimpsing a view of Mount Fuji and heading to Mt. Kobotoke-Shiroyama 小仏城山 (670 m) for lunch and finishing at Sagamiko Station on the Chuo Main Line.
The beginning of the trail didn’t present much snow as it traverses a scenic ridge line along a southerly aspect, though as elevation was gained and the trail switched back more westerly the snow line became evident. For many hikers this meant fastening their crampons for extra stability – something to consider investing in if you prefer to spend more time on your feet. Half way up there is a good rest stop and look out over Hachioji City and on a clear day it is possible to see the Tokyo Skytree. Before approaching the summit of Mt. Takao I took the trail which veers off towards Mt. Kobotoke-Shiroyama 2.5 km. As most hikers head up to Mt. Takao this part of the hike tends to handle less foot traffic.
The snow cover on Mt. Shiroyama was pretty significant and made for an impressive lunch spot. The final part of the hike heads down to Sagamiko Station along the Tokai Nature Trail 東海自然歩道 which is actually the starting point of a 1,697 km long distance walk winding up in Osaka Prefecture. This section is pretty isolated and didn’t pass any other hikers. At the trail head there is an option of catching a bus back to Sagamiko Station along National Route 20, but as it runs infrequently I usually prefer to stretch out the legs for the final 2 km.