A nice and easy walk along a river from Lake Chuzenji 中禅寺湖 to Lake Yu 湯ノ湖. There is a lot of beautiful scenery to look at along the way like waterfalls and the marsh. It’s very popular when flowers are in season or when the leaves change in autumn. Suitable for families, as it is mostly a walk up a gentle slope, and there are many places to stop for a picnic lunch. The area also has a number of other walking trails so it’s worth picking up a map (in English) at the Tourist Information Center in Tobu Nikko Station 東武日光駅.
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Season: All year, however in winter the area does have snowfall.
Starting point: Ryuzu Falls/ Ryuzu-no-taki 竜頭ノ滝 bus stop
Finishing point: Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉
A map of the hike can also be viewed at GPSies
The Mapple 山と高原地図 map series number 13, which includes Nikko and it’s surrounds, can be bought on Amazon.co.jp. Note, these maps are in Japanese, but have some English and furigana.
This hike follows Yugawa 湯川 to Yunoko 湯ノ湖, and is very popular and well signed. From the Ryuzu-no-taki 竜頭ノ滝 bus stop, turn right and cross the road to get to Ryuzu Falls 竜頭ノ滝. Here there is a small restaurant and souvenir shop from where you can take a picture of the bottom of the falls. To the right is a small shrine. Take the path on the left of the shrine to follow the falls to the top. It’s not a very tall waterfall, and it should only take about 10 minutes to reach the top.
From the top of Ryuzu Falls 竜頭ノ滝, cross the road and follow the path that runs along side the river. You will be walking in a lightly wooded area for about 10 minutes, until you reach another road. Cross this road and stick to the path that runs along the right hand bank of the river. There are a couple of alternative routes from here (on the left) if you want to go to Oshirogahara 小田代原. Continuing on, you will walk for another 10 minutes until you reach another alternative path to Oshirogahara 小田代原 (over the bridge). Follow the sign pointing to Akanuma 赤沼 for a short distance, and you will reach another sign post.
If you turn towards Yudaki 湯滝 you will enter the Senjogahara marsh 戦場ヶ原. This portion of the walk is all board walks, and is really easy with a number of bench seats and tables along the way. It’s also super pretty! You’ll walk along the boardwalk for about 45 minutes until you reach a more wooded area and another sign post indicating another route to Oshirogahara 小田代原. Keep headed towards Yudaki 湯滝 and Yumoto 湯元, and after 10 minutes there will be a sign post pointing to Kotaku Pond 光徳沼. Again keep on to Yudaki 湯滝.
From this point you are leaving Senjogahara 戦場ヶ原, but will still be following the boardwalk alongside the Yugawa river 湯川. 20 minutes along the river you will reach Odaki Falls 小滝. From here you can take either path to Yudaki Falls 湯滝. The path to the left is 15 minutes, and 10 minutes to the right. At Yudaki Falls 湯滝 there is a toilet and some small shops with food. Walk up the stairs on the right side of the falls to reach the top. At the top of the falls is Yunoko 湯ノ湖. You can walk around either side of Yunoko 湯ノ湖 to reach Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉. Both paths take 30 minutes.
In Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉 the bus terminal is 3 blocks back from the lake on the largest road in town. Just turn away from the lake at the Nikko Yumoto Resthouse 日光湯元レストハウス, and you’ll see it on the right.
To and From
From Tokyo 東京 to Nikko 日光, the easiest and cheapest way is the Tobu Nikko line 東武日光線 leaving from Asakusa 浅草. The Limited Express (reserved seating) costs 2,620 yen and takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes. The Rapid train (no reserved seating) is a little longer, but cheaper, at 1,320 yen and 2 hours and 10 minutes.
If you are travelling on a JR pass, catching the Shinkansen to Utsunomiya 宇都宮, and then the JR Nikko line 日光線 to Nikko Station 日光駅 would be faster.
From either the JR or the Tobu Nikko Station 日光駅, catch the Tobu Bus that’s headed towards Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉. The hike can be started from either the Ryuzu-no-taki 竜頭ノ滝 bus stop (as described here), or from Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉 if you want to walk down hill. To Ryuzu-no-taki 竜頭ノ滝 it takes 70 minutes (depending on traffic) and 1,350 yen. To Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉 takes 90 minutes and costs 1,650 yen.
If you want to spend some time in Nikko 日光 and see the sights or do more hiking, the Tobu All Nikko Pass covers the return trip from Asakusa 浅草 and all Tobu buses in a set area. It’s valid for 4 days and costs 4,400 yen. See this site for more information.
Tobu Railways website – information about Nikko and Kinugawa (English) http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/index.html
Tobu Railways train timetables (English) http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/timetable.html
Tobu Bus routes and schedules in Nikko (Japanese) http://www.tobu-bus.com/pc/area/nikkou.html
Nikko Tourist Association – Lots of information about Nikko and the surrounds. (English) http://www.nikko-jp.org/english/index.html
My Flickr photo set from Senjogahara http://www.flickr.com/photos/michelelisa/sets/72157622526837139/
Map of hike on GPSies http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=hpjtrradwajkqali
Lake Chuzenji/Chuzenjiko 中禅寺湖
Yunoko/Lake Yu 湯ノ湖
Tobu Nikko Station 東武日光駅
Ryuzu Falls/Ryuzu-no-taki 竜頭ノ滝
Yumoto Onsen 湯元温泉
Yugawa (river) 湯川
Yudaki (falls) 湯滝
Kotakunuma (pond) 光徳沼
Odaki (falls) 小滝
Nikko Yumoto Resthouse 日光湯元レストハウス