Time Required: 1 h 30 min. Distance: 3.2 km
This course takes you on the trail from Nishibetsu Cabin up to the summit of Mt. Nishibetsu, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Mt. Mashu, Lake Mashu, and scenery that embodies the essence of Hokkaido’s landscape. Mt. Nishibetsu (799 meters) is located to the southeast of Lake Mashu and is famous for the view it commands of the lake and its surroundings. The course starts out with a gentle slope and later comes to a steep climb aptly nicknamed "Gamanzaka," which is Japanese for "Perseverance Slope." Once you conquer the Gamanzaka Slope, the path opens up into an expansive flower meadow. On a fine day, you will have stunning views of the Hokkaido’s vast landscape. At the summit, you will see an outlook of Mt. Mashu and Lake Mashu. From here, you can also see Mt. O-akan, Mt. Me-akan, and all the way to the mountains of Shiretoko and Kunashiri Island.
* During winter, the approach by car to the Nishibetsu Cabin is closed. Park at the gate of the connecting forest road to the cabin. A two hour walk on the forest road is then required.
Nishibetsu Cabin is the location of the trailhead for Mt. Nishibetsu. There are toilets set up outside and if you go inside, you will find a wonderful wood-burning stove, shelves filled with a myriad of books, and bedding laid out on the second floor. Although Nishibetsu Cabin has parking spaces and toilets available, there is no place to get drinking water, so you will need to prepare your own. Logs for the wood-burning stove are piled up outside.
If you persevere up the steep Gamanzaka ("Perseverance Slope"), Mt. Nishibetsu’s most difficult stretch, you will be rewarded by a field of beautiful alpine wildflowers. Although Mt. Nishibetsu is a comparatively low mountain (799 meters), the mist from Lake Mashu carried over by the wind allows various alpine plants, which would normally grow at higher elevations, to bloom on the mountain from spring to fall. When the season is right, you can see the Kamchatka rhododendrons, Pedicularis japonica, woolly geraniums, keyflowers, Kamchatka thistles, Iris setosa, and other wildflowers blooming across the meadow.
Mt. Nishibetsu’s summit has a wide-open and unobstructed viewpoint that presents a full, 360-degree panorama. Here, you can enjoy a view of Mt. Mashu and Lake Mashu, and when the weather is fine, you can even see all the way to Mt. O-akan, Mt. Me-akan, Mt. Sharidake, and Kunashiri Island. Also, Konsen Plateau lies to the southeast and the expansive pasture lands that spread out before you embody the quintessential scenery of Hokkaido.