5 Nights Shine-Etsu Trail Hike - Nozawa Onsen | Japan

The 80km Shinetsu trail, the best woodland trail in Japan, runs over the ridges of the Sekida mountains at about 1,000 meters above sea level, forming a boundary between Nagano and Niigata prefectures. It is one of the few long trails in Japan. This area is blessed with a rich ecosystem nurtured by Japanese beech tree forests. Historically, there were 16 passages connecting Nagano with Niigata. The forests are perhaps best known for their beech trees. The tall, well-shaped beech trees form a corridor of nature along the path. The earth-packed trail also makes it easy to walk. Spring (from mid-June to the end of July) and autumn (from mid-September to the end of October) are great seasons to visit the trail. In the spring, the last traces of snow can be seen among new greenery and flowers bursting into bloom. In the fall, hikers can enjoy the brilliant colors of autumn leaves.
* Duration: 6 days
* Starts: Nozawaonsen, Japan
* Trip Category: Cultural & Theme Tours >> Cultural Tours




The 80km Shinetsu trail, the best woodland trail in Japan, runs over the ridges of the Sekida mountains at about 1,000 meters above sea level, forming a boundary between Nagano and Niigata prefectures. It is one of the few long trails in Japan. This area is blessed with a rich ecosystem nurtured by Japanese beech tree forests. Historically, there were 16 passages connecting Nagano with Niigata. The forests are perhaps best known for their beech trees. The tall, well-shaped beech trees form a corridor of nature along the path. The earth-packed trail also makes it easy to walk. Spring (from mid-June to the end of July) and autumn (from mid-September to the end of October) are great seasons to visit the trail. In the spring, the last traces of snow can be seen among new greenery and flowers bursting into bloom. In the fall, hikers can enjoy the brilliant colors of autumn leaves.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival & Check-in

Stop At: Alpine Villa Nozawa, 6631 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen, Shimotakai District, Nagano 389-2502, Japan
Make your way to Nozawa Onsen, or take the Bullet train from Tokyo to Iiyama and we will pick you up from the there. Once arrived at Nozawa Onsen, settle into your lodge style accommodation. The rest of the day is your to wander and explore and take in the the atmosphere of old Japan. Perhaps a mineral-rich hot spring bath at one of the 13 free Onsens around the village. If your feeling energetic you can rent mountain bikes, hike and kayak in the area, and local businesses offer yoga classes, Japanese cooking classes, art retreats and much more. There is a ton of things to do! The welcome dinner tonight provides a great opportunity to provide an insight to what your about to experience.
Duration: 10 minutes

Meals included:
• Dinner: Welcome dinner.
Accommodation included: Villa Nozawa

Day 2: Transfer to the Mountain head to begin your Hike

Stop At: Mt. Madarao, Shizuma, Iiyama 389-2255 Nagano Prefecture
6hr, 8.5km. The highest point is at 1382m, the lowest at 910m. The official start of the trail is from the top of Mt. Madarao, fantatsic views can be had to the north and west of Mt Madarao. The initial part of todays hike has a long steep ascent & decent of Mt Madarao given it is a ski run during the winter months. You’ll have a guide to day with you today (or schedule a guide for the day of your choosing). Heading to Daimyojin Peak, great views of Lake Nojiri, the Five Peaks of Northern Nagano, and some of the Northern Japan Alps. Retrace your steps back to the junction at Mt Madarao and then take the Shinetsu Trail north, descending the switchback route to Manzaka Gap. Pass through some beautiful beech and birch forests before reaching Akaike Pond, where our van will be waiting. Tonight is free and you may feel like a long soak in the hot mineral springs!
Duration: 7 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch: Boxed lunch
Accommodation included: Villa Nozawa

Day 3: Akaike Pond to Wakui

Stop At: Shinetsu Trail, 1571-17 Teruoka Nabekura Plateau, Iiyama 389-2601 Nagano Prefecture
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the trail for today’s self guided walk. 6hrs, 10.7km, highest point:1022m, lowest point:563m. Today hike through beautiful Japanese beech and birch forests over a hill to the Hakama Wetlands. Pass through Hakama Wetlands before talking a turn to the left to ascend Hakama Peak (1135m). From the summit of Hakama Peak, there is a great view of Mt Myoko to the west, and the space here makes it a great place to stop for a break. From there, descend to Akaike pond through a pleasant switchback trail. There are bathrooms and a parking space at Akaike pond. From Akaike, walk over a small hill and through the beech forest to Numanohara Wetlands, which blossom with flowers after the spring thaw. Make your way towards Lake Nozomi and at the top of the hill, Mt. Madarao, Hakama Peak and even Mt. Myoko can be seen on a clear day. Heading down hill along the trail, pass through a lovely forest before coming to the boat pier of Lake Nozomi. On a still day the reflection of Mt. Madarao appears out over the lake. The climb to the top (1022m) takes about 30-40min and reveals a superb view over the Iiyama Basin. From here, descend through the larch forest to the pond, known as Wakui Shin-ike then it is an easy 60min walk down the farm road, where it comes out onto route 292 in Wakui Village. From the car park here we will meet you and head back to Nozawa Onsen. The town is well regarded for its hot springs which are a relaxing diversion after a day of hiking.
Duration: 7 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch: Boxed lunch
Accommodation included: Villa Nozawa

Day 4: Nozawa Onsen Free day

Stop At: Nozawa Onsen, Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun 389-2502 Nagano Prefecture
Rest day today and after breakfast, the choices are many. Rent a bike for a more casual ride throught the country side, visit some of the nearby villages and shrines, SUP, White water rafting, indulge in one of the may hot springs in the village. Take a day trip to Nagano, enjoy the local train ride from Iiyama to Nagano and explore the host city of the 1998 Nagano Olympics. (Local train cost 650 Yen one way, Shinkansen ticket 1300 Yen one way) There’s great shopping, fantastic restaurants for lunch and one of the nicest temple areas in all of Japan. Zenjoki Temple is one of the biggest wooden structures in Japan and is impressive to see. Tonight, take a walk around the cobbled stone streets of the village, enjoy the night markets and there is no shortage of fabulous food options to choose from.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
Accommodation included: Villa Nozawa

Day 5: Busuno Gap – Mt Amamizu

Stop At: Shinetsu Trail, 1571-17 Teruoka Nabekura Plateau, Iiyama 389-2601 Nagano Prefecture
After Breakfast our van will then transfer you the start section 6,. This is the final section of the Shinetsu Trail leading to Mt. Amamizu, the northern endpoint. It is also one of the most aesthetically rewarding. This part of the trail is almost entirely shrouded in beautiful beech forests, with many viewpoints over the Niigata Delta.The section is 12.65km and will take about 7 hours, the highest point 1151m, lowest at 1015m above sea level. The walk from Busuno Pass carries historical significance as both an old military route, and also as a trail used by Shugendo sect followers. The trail here is mostly gentle until the very end when it drops sharply. Of all the views of the Sekida Mountain Range, the one from Misaka Pass is the most spectacular. What’s more, the Japanese beech forests at the foot of your destination at Mt Amamizu makes this hike all worth while. You have reached the end of your journey and we wil be there with our van. Tonight, take a walk around the cobbled stone streets of the village, enjoy the night markets and there is no shortage of fabulous food options to choose from.
Duration: 7 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Lunch: Boxed lunch
Accommodation included: Villa Nozawa

Day 6: Nozawa Onsen – Departure

Stop At: Nozawa Onsen, Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun 389-2502 Nagano Prefecture
After breakfast, check out is at 10am. If your heading back to Tokyo we will transfer you to Iiyama station and from there you can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen Bullet train onwards to your next destination.
Duration: 10 minutes

Meals included:
• Breakfast
No accommodation included on this day.