On October 12, 2019, typhoon #19 brought record-breaking amounts of rain to Hakone. Within one day, the area received roughly three times the rain that it usually gets during the entire month of October. The enormous amounts of water and resulting landslides caused widespread damage to roads, railway tracks and other infrastructure.
However, a month after the typhoon, the situation has greatly improved and mostly normalized for tourists. The most prominent exception is the Hakone Tozan Railway which suffered damage in multiple locations and will remain out of service for several months. Substitute buses run instead along the disrupted section between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora.
Because Hakone covers a wide range of elevations from Yumoto near sea level to the peak of Mount Hakone at almost 1500 meters, autumn colors can be seen in the area for an extended time period. Today, the colors were around their peak in the higher elevations around Lake Ashinoko, but were only just starting to develop in the lower elevations.
In the hot spring town of Yumoto at the entrance of Hakone, the trees have only just started to color. It will be late November to early December until peak colors can be enjoyed here. Hakone-Yumoto Station is currently as far as trains operate. Travelers for Gora should transfer to a substitute bus here. Note that many of the substitute buses serve no stations besides Hakone-Yumoto and Gora, and that some do not accept IC cards, such as Suica (they are covered by the Hakone Free Pass).
The beautiful gardens of the Hakone Museum of Art are my favorite autumn color spot in Hakone. And they did not disappoint today despite not quite having reached their peak yet. The maple trees in the moss garden and in the Sekirakuen Garden already displayed some very vibrant colors.
The Hakone Ropeway resumed service along its entire length in late October after it had been out of service for almost half a year due to a volcanic no-entry zone around Owakudani. Furthermore, limitations on visiting the area around Owakudani Station were lifted today, and is now possible again to leave the station and wander around the volcanically active area. Shops and restaurants have reopened, but some of the walking and hiking trails remain closed.
The autumn colors along the ropeway were probably at the peak of their beauty this year. While there were some spectacular colors here and there, a lot of trees had also already lost their leaves, though (possibly due to the typhoon).
The Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field suffered some damage from the typhoon, and part of the trail that leads through the field is closed to the public. However, most of the field was in good condition, and the grass has already progressed into a beautiful, golden color, although I expect it to become even more spectacular over the coming days.
Another highlight today was my visit to the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands. Vibrant colors were provided by maple trees and a wide range of other plants. Very attractive were also the wetland and pond sections of the garden. Note that the botanical garden is having extended hours (16:30 to 18:00) with nightly illuminations through November 30.
A pretty spot for autumn colors in Hakone is Choanji Temple, near the Sengokuhara intersection and Sengoku bus stop. In addition to several tall maple trees, the temple features dozens of interesting rakan statues spread across the forested temple grounds. The maple trees were near the peak of their seasonal beauty.
Last but not least I checked the autumn colors around Lake Ashinoko by taking a sightseeing boat ride across the lake and walking between Hakone-machi and Moto-Hakone. I was a little bit puzzled about the state of colors around the lake. Lots of trees were already barren (possibly taken down prematurely by the typhoon), and the colors were generally not very vibrant, yet there were also many trees that looked like they still had potential to improve.
Upon consulting other websites, I found that colors around the lake are generally judged to be approaching peak or at their peak.