Time Required: 5 h 45 min. Distance: 9.9 km
On this popular loop course, you will climb to the summit of Mt. Me-akan from Me-akan Onsen, then descend to Lake Onneto where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the volcanoes, forests, and lake. After passing through a pure Sakhalin spruce forest, continue on through a zone of dwarf stone pines to reach the fifth station of Mt. Me-akan. If you look back toward the way you came, you will see the beautiful azure Lake Onneto and the distant Daisetsu Mountain Range. From the summit, you can see numerous smoking volcanoes to the north and south, creating the impression that the Earth is breathing. On your descent, delight in the flower meadow that spreads over the col between Mt. Me-akan and Mt. Akan-Fuji as you head towards the campground at Lake Onneto. To finish off the course, take the woodland trail that runs along the lakeside and through the forest, returning to Me-akan Onsen.
Mt. Me-akan to the southwest of Lake Akan is the main mountain in the Akan mountain range. It is a composite volcano consisting of ten peaks that together form its complex shape. From Mt. Ponmachineshiri, the highest of the ten peaks (1,499 meters), you can see the Ponmachineshiri Crater to the south. Beyond the smoking gases is Mt. Akan-Fuji (1,476 meters), and there is a great panoramic view of Lake Akan and Mt. Oakan to the north beyond the crater and rising clouds of gas.
After the snow melts on Mt. Me-akan around June, you can see a variety of alpine plants. Species that can be found here include two that borrow Mt. Me-akan’s name in Japanese— "meakan kinbai" (Sibbaldia miyabei) and "meakan fusuma" (Arenaria merckioides)—as well as "tarumaiso" (Pennellianthus frutescens), "komakusa" (Dicentra peregrina), mountain harebell (Campanula lasiocarpa Cham.), and the alpine azalea, adding a patchwork of color to the rocky ground. Of all the places these plants grow, the flower meadow that spreads across the col between Mt. Me-akan and Mt. Akan-Fuji is particularly expansive, making it the perfect spot to take a break.
Lake Onneto is a dammed lake on the west side of Mt. Me-akan, its name meaning "old or big" (Onne) and "lake" (to) in the Ainu language. Depending on the weather, your location, and time of day, the water turns a variety of colors, earning it the nickname, "the five-colored marsh." The blue of the lake contrasts beautifully with the remaining snow, deep green vegetation, and autumn leaves as the seasons change through the year.