OFF THE BEATEN PATH SERIES: KEISOKUSAN HIKING TRAIL
Today, I’m going to introduce to my readers some places that are underrated but worth visiting. So I started the off-the-beaten-path series to share with you what it’s like to travel cheaply without breaking your wallet and avoid tourist traps.
My family loves to explore hidden gems in Japan. While it’s definitely cheaper and free to visit, these places are tucked away from the crowd and commercial tourism. The loosening of travel restrictions in Japan after two years is good news for the overall economy of Japan, however, let us still consider that Covid- 19 still exists and that we should always abide by precautionary measures.
Expressways and national highways are filled with vehicles stuck in traffic and I could say it’s not a good way to spend your Golden week inside the car for half-day! So instead of traveling far, we opt to explore the countryside and roads less traveled.
KEISOKUSAN HIKING TRAIL
We discovered this lesser-known hiking trail through Google. Just a 20-minute drive to where my family lives, Keisokusan is a great hiking destination for beginners at an altitude of 430.5 meters. It is the highest mountain in Shirosato Town in Ibaraki prefecture where it is located.
Although not really a popular spot, recently I’ve seen a lot of climbers and visitors to the place. The entrance leading to the mountain is a parking lot, washroom, and a beautiful scenic tea plantation. The place is really perfect, especially on sunny days.
WHAT YOU EXPECT THROUGH THE TRAIL
You pass a trail with tea fields leading through the woods where you encounter a lot of exotic plants and even snakes! There’s a little brook on the left side of the trail and when you walk further, you will see a sign telling you which way is the family course (the easiest!). I recommend you to take this one.
During the ascend, you will pass through another small brook. It is really shallow on sunny days, but on rainy days, it might be hard to navigate through the brook, so beware when climbing in this area. Consider wearing waterproof footwear when you hike this mountain.
Halfway through the ascend, you will be surrounded by woods and ferns similar to the rainforest jungles in tropical countries. It is such a beauty to capture all the wilderness and natural surroundings especially when you live in urban areas.
AT THE SUMMIT AREA
You will encounter a wooden table in the summit area with a signboard written on it. There’s a post box with a logbook where you can write your thoughts and your climbing experience. It’s a great journal to share with other climbers.
You have the option to further climb to the peak of the mountain. The trail leading to the peak is somewhat steep but there are rocks that prevent you from slipping. At the peak, you will see another signboard and a mini shrine where you can offer prayers and some benches for you to take your meals.
Descending was a breeze and it was definitely a great experience. None of us were really tired because it was an easy hike. If you haven’t brought enough liquids on your trek, there’s nothing to worry about it. There’s a vending machine across the road at the parking lot where you can choose your favorite drink.
If you’re a resident of Japan or a hiking enthusiast, don’t forget to check out this amazing hiking trail that is definitely free of cost.