Hike the volcanic Mount Tarumae, enjoying beautiful sky-high views of Lake Shikotsu before returning to earth for some quality soak time in the nearby hot-spring pools of an onsen. This 8-hour excursion, limited to just 12 participants, is the perfect combination of active adventure, gorgeous scenery and relaxation.
Start your hiking and hot springs adventure with pickup at your Sapporo hotel in the early morning or from JR Sapporo station, where you’ll begin your ride to Western Hokkaido and to the base of Mount Tarumae to begin your hike. Your 1.2-mile (2-kilometer) walk will take you along the slopes of this towering volcano, affording fantastic views of Lake Shikotsu as well as a volcanic lava dome.
Before beginning your hike, stop by a convenience store, where you can purchase lunch at your own expense. After leaving the convenience store, head to the trailhead to begin your hike. Begin to ascend the mountain trail, gaining altitude as you proceed, using your included trekking poles and the wooden steps to aid your climb. Soon you’ll reach a viewing spot, where you can take in views of the gorgeous lake, steep Mount Fuppishi and the cone-shaped peak of Mount Tarumae.
Continue across the eastern edge of the volcano for another 30 minutes, stopping to admire plant life like azaleas and Japanese snow flowers with your guide along the way. Soon you arrive at the mountain’s 3,223-foot (1,022m) peak, where you can spend the next hour admiring great views of Lake Shikotsu and nearby Mount Yotei (Hokkaido Fuji) while having some lunch. You’ll also have time to explore the smoldering lava dome located at the crater’s edge.
After your lunch and exploration of the peak, head back down and climb back in your van, driving next to nearby Marukoma Onsen along the shores of Lake Shikotsu. This unique resort offers a rare onsen feature, with its hot springs located directly at the pools. This means no pipes are necessary to channel the water.
Get a quick explanation of onsen etiquette from your guide, then spend the next hour soaking your cares away at the resort’s variety of indoor and outdoor pools set against the sublime views of the nearby lake. Try out the resort’s big pool, or head to the gender-specific rotenburu baths for a little more privacy. There’s also a common area, arcade and souvenir shop for those that want more options.
At the end of your hot springs visit, climb back aboard your ride for the return trip to your Sapporo hotel.