Feature image by Richard Siddle
What better way to celebrate a birthday than to hike a short 2.5 hours to a mountain hut and stay overnight. The perfect place for that in the Sapporo area has to be Ginreiso mountain hut at the foot of Mt. Haruka. Even in spring, with no snow around, this is a beautiful easy hike.
Route Map to Ginreiso Hut | GPX file download
Ginreiso Hut – Essential Info
- Cost: 800yen per person overnight, 400yen per person if you want to use the hut’s facilities during the day.
- Booking: In principle, booking is required for all overnight stays. That said, the hut-keeper Mr. Hirata is unlikely to turn you away if you don’t have a booking, unless the hut is full (only likely on busy public holidays). Note that Mr. Hirata is often not at the hut on Tuesday and Wednesday nights; when he is not there, you cannot use the hut. Call the Tokai University Sapporo Campus on 011-571-5111 to book and to confirm when the hut-keeper will be there.
- Location: Approximately 43°06’49.2″N 141°06’38.4″E (location on Google Maps)
- Facilities: Drinkable spring water, kitchen, heating by means of large wood stove, blankets, mattresses, kerosene lantern lighting in the mess hall. Toilets (basic long-drops) are attached to the main hut, and accessible from inside. There is no electricity, and there is no cell phone coverage. A limited selection of pots are available. In principle, no gas cookers are provided, so bring your own. Sleeping quarters are five-to-a-room bunk rooms.
- Trail access details: Check out my winter ski tour post here – http://www.14degrees.org/overnight-backcountry-ski-trip-to-ginreiso-hut-mt-harukayama-hokkaido-japan/
- Time to hut: 2.5 hours at a very leisurely pace from the trailhead (another 30 mins to the summit of the 906m Mt. Haruka).
Route Hike Report
My birthday was on the Sunday, so I invited a few friends to hike up to the Ginreiso Hut at the foot of Mt. Haruka, just outside of Sapporo, here in Hokkaido, Japan. The plan was to schlep up fresh veges and some meat, some drinks and dessert, and make a bit of a birthday party of it all. We’d then hike down the next day.
We started off at the start of the summer hiking trail (location) in beautiful weather, that would persist the entire time we were on the trail.
Not long after starting, we came across the most challenging part of the trail…a short washed-out part of the trail. Haidee and I had already started lowering ourselves down by the rope before the others found a new trail a little ways back along the track.
While under the shelter of the trees, the trail was cool and refreshing.
Although at times, the trail runs along an exposed forestry road, which can be hot in direct sunlight. Luckily this only continues for a very short distance.
As the route approaches the summit ridge, the foliage changes to low-lying sasa bamboo. Closer to the hut there are a couple of swampy bits that require some balance.
On this trip, we opted to head straight to the summit of Mt. Haruka, just behind the hut. The summit is shrouded in trees, but there is one aspect that allows good views over the Ishikari Bay area, and northern Sapporo.
Ginreiso Hut itself is a three-story log house. There is enough room to sleep 30 people, although I imagine that would be a squeeze in the second-story cooking/kitchen area.
Ginreiso Hut from the south, photo by Richard Siddle
Rick had opted to bike up, coming from the opposite side of the valley, via Jozankei. He was following the Fuchs Loop, a circular cycle route that takes forestry roads on the way up, and takes the hiking trail on the way down. Full route here: http://www.14degrees.org/a-sapporo-bikepacking-trip-the-fuchs-loop-hokkaido-japan/
Once down from the summit, we got into dinner mode. On the menu was shabushabu, a Japanese hot-pot style communal dinner. The heavy, fresh ingredients were worth their weight!
As the night progressed, proceedings became a little more festive…
As in winter, a gargantuan wood stove heats the hut’s two main floors. This stove also provides some limited hot water for washing dishes.
We retired to bed at around 9:30pm, and most of us slept fairly well in the 3rd story sleeping quarters.
We were up at around 5:30am to 6:00am, and settled down to a slow breakfast of coffee, porridge, cake, and more coffee. We finally got out of the hut around 9am for the meander back down to the car.
Rick powered on ahead, the bear bells attached to his bike jingling like Santa’s sleigh. For more information about biking this route, check out my blog post here: The Fuchs Loop.
Just like yesterday climbing up, the trudge down was lovely and cool in the shade of the trees, and quite hot in the direct sun. All in all, a perfect way to enjoy a birthday weekend.