October 19-22, 2018
Map Number 44
I decided to take a late season long ride out to Fukui Prefecture to hike Arashima and Hakusan, which are both about an hour outside of Fukui (city). My usual hiking and riding buddy was in the middle of practicing for an Aikido test, so I was soloing this one.
The ride to the hotel was about 6 hrs. I wasn’t planning on hiking until the next day so I took my time.
I stayed at the Route Inn Fukui. They said their elevator garage was only for cars and asked me to leave my bike at the train station, which I wasn’t going to do. Thankfully, the hotel manager worked with me (flexibility in these matters is uncommon in Japan) and let me park out of the way under the hotel garage entrance for the duration of my stay.
I started early the next day, headed for Arashima. The sun was filtered and temperatures were mid 60s on the way to the trailhead. There are a few options for access, there’s a parking lot right off of route 158 near an old ski area (35.9637956, 136.6043191), and there’s another one about a mile before, but you have to drive down a few local roads to get to it (35.9583439, 136.5588181). I chose the one right off of 158 because it had bathrooms and the total trail time was about 30 minutes less.
You start up a steep paved road (calves-burning steep) then the trail starts. Most of the trail is uneventful and because it was cloudy, not much of a view. I did manage to stay dry anyway.
When I got to the ridge line, the fog was in, and it was very windy. I didn’t waste much time at the top because there was no view and I was getting cold. It only took me 2.5 hrs to reach the top.
The next day I headed to Hakusan. The ride to the trail head was cold, but the sun was out. The parking lot was huge (36.1238606, 136.7350161), and there were at least 100 cars there by the time I arrived at 9 am. You can park on the side of the road or head down the hill to the bigger lot. There wasn’t really any space up higher, but I was able to shimmy my bike between a couple cars.
There are several options from the parking lot, you should get the map. I recommend making a loop out of it. The map time is about 5 hrs to the summit. I was standing at the peak by noon, so 4 hours to the top (2702m). Map time is 3:30 back down (if you take the 30 minute detour described below), I was at my bike in 3 hrs (about 3pm).
The weather was absolutely gorgeous, cool temps, light snow at the top, and views for miles. There are many interesting spots to stop along the way and take in the view. Also, I was there around the peak of the fall colors.
About 3/4 of the way up there’s a mega-hut/temple called Hakusan Murodo (36.1493962, 136.7679620). Other than hikers resting, the inside of the buildings looked completely deserted.
The peak is about 30-45 minutes from Murodo. After resting at the top, you could head back down the way you came, or there is another loop that will take you around 3 or 4 snow melt tarns which in my opinion are well worth the extra 30 minutes of hiking.
There are a couple of huts in this area, but this time of year they were all closed and they turned the water spigots off. If you need to fill up on water, make sure you take one of the trails that have water access. There are several opportunities for safe drinking water from streams (the blue markers on the map below) if you take the right trails.