Today, I headed further north to Mount Hakkoda, a set of volcanic peaks in Aomori Prefecture. Like Mount Kurikoma where I was yesterday, Mount Hakkoda is known for its seasonal beauty, and one of the first places in the Tohoku Region to develop autumn colors.
I found the colors to be at their best around the 900 to 1100 meter level, around Sukayu Onsen, a ryokan accomodation and public hot spring bath, and in the marshland above it. I expect the colors to improve a little more and stay good for at least a few more days, The weather this weekend is forecast to be relatively good in the area and I'm sure that Hakkodasan will see lots of visitors to hike and enjoy the fall foliage.
Yesterday's rain seemed to have also made landfall in Mount Hakkoda and I arrived to find the well-trodden trails slick with mud. The designated path was truly muddy and most hikers seemed to step wherever that didn't coat their shoes in about two inches of mud. Ascending wasn't as tough as it would appear, but descending was a little trickier thanks to the lack of traction on the ground.
I did not see as many hikers at Mount Hakkoda like I did at Mount Kurikoma where I was yesterday, but that is not to say that it is not as popular. Fall colors can be seen at the Sukayu Onsen area and that's where most people were. The are short trails around the hot spring area leading to Hakkoda Hotel and beyond, passing a number of sites like the Jigokudani Lake, a sulphurous lake, and the Tohoku University Botanical Garden (which also has its own walking trails). Driving around the area was also very picturesque thanks to the colorful trees that lined the road.
Suiren-numa, a lake not far from Sukayu Onsen, ofers views of the Hakkoda mountain range when the weather is clear. It was raining when I was there and was quite foggy as well, blocking the view of the mountains behind it. But I am pleased to report that the colors at Suiren-numa are also at their peak and still beautiful despite the fog.
Over at Jogakuraohashi Bridge, I found the trees here just starting to take on some color. The trees below the bridge were mostly green and still needed a bit more time before they reach their peak.
My last stop for today was the Hakkoda Ropeway. The ropeway gondola brings visitors from about 700 meters to 1300 meters in about ten minutes. Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse by the time I arrived. It was raining at the bottom station and there was thick fog and sleet at the top station, making it impossible to see much. However, the fog lifted slightly on the way down and I found the colors midway down the ropeway to be at their peak. According to the ropeway staff, the colors are past their peak along the trails at the summit and the leaves have also begun to fall. Back at the bottom station, the colors there were still predominantly green and it would be a while before they reach their autumn best.