This past Saturday was a great day! A colleague and I hiked up a local mountain, Maedake. There was about a foot or two of snow on the ground making for beautiful winter scenes along the creek at the beginning of the trail, on the tree-canopied trail, and finally at the top which overlooks Akita. Last year I had done the hike solo, on a whim, so I felt pretty confident as a guide this time.
According to the guide book I have (秋田の山),1 there’s a trail called Nite no mata 二手の又 that starts from the top of the Taiheizan ski slope. However, I use a different trail called Kisoishi 木曽石. The trailhead for this course is right off rt. 232, as you can see here:
I’ve had a terrible time finding trail maps in Japan. To put it bluntly, the ones I’ve found have been pretty crappy. But, here’s a map that I found in the book I mentioned above:
The road I take to the trailhead (Rt. 232) is just off what’s shown in the map, to the left. The Circled P in the bottom left corner is obviously parking as well as the Kisoishi Trailhead, which I’ve marked in red. The waterfall, Kanayama Falls, is not worth the visit.
type: out & back
length: approx. 6 km (3.72 miles) one way
starting elevation: approx. 84m (275 ft)
peak elevation: 774 m (2,539 ft)
time: about 2 hrs up; 45 mins. down
In the map above, the Kisoishi trail starts in the bottom left corner. On this map it’s the black dashed line that goes through the 291.4 m elevation marker and joins the red dashed “Nite no mata” trail. In the snow, this junction is barely, barely visible.
Note: This is a really popular trail! Both times that I’ve done it (in the dead of winter!) I’ve passed many hikers of all ages. Since it’s so well traveled the trail is pretty easy to follow. Also, the trail doesn’t end at Maedake. Hikers can go through to Nakadake and even further on to Okudake. There is a cabin on Okudake open year round that hikers can sleep in.
Photo Tour of the Trail
As you can see in the Google Map above, regardless of which way you do to the trailhead you eventually end up on Rt. 232. The road is one-lane in each direction and winds through rice fields and small ‘villages’. You’ll see a large blue sign traffic-sign above the road pointing you towards Kanayama Falls (Kanayama-daki 金山滝), which leads you to this narrow road pictured here:
You can just park out on 232, or if you’re able to there is some parking at the end. The entrance to trailhead is clearly marked at the end of this road and looks like this:
The post on the left in the photo says Taiheizan Trailhead, which it is–“Taiheizan” is the cluster of little mountain peaks. This trail will take you through Maedake to Okudake, which is the highest peak of the cluster.
Shinto and Buddhist statues line the Kisoishi trail