Hiking, as we all know, is the best way to explore Japan’s vast and stunning nature—and Hakone has plenty to explore! While this area (just 90 minutes from central Tokyo) does not have the most challenging trials, it is a great destination for families to have some good old outdoor fun.

Hakone Hiking – Trail 1: Over the hills and across the plains

Starting out at the main transportation hub, Hakone-Yumoto, the first trail is a calm and peaceful hike to Sengenyama and the town of Gora. The start of the trial can be a bit tricky to find as it is on the side of the road that does not have a sidewalk, but once you go to the coordinates listed below you will easily spot it.

hakone hiking trails
Photo by Bjorn

Hiking up the stairs you will follow a fairly steep paved path along the ridge taking you into the forests of Hakone. After about an hour you will spot the plains leading up to Sengenyama from where you can enjoy a great view over the surrounding area while eating a snack on one of the benches.

Suggested Activity
Get Tickets To the Samurai Restaurant in Shinjuku (Up to 30% Off)
Experience one of the craziest, most colorful places in Tokyo — the all-new Samurai Restaurant, from the creators of the Robot Restaurant. Get your tickets and sit back for a wild show of lasers, lights, samurai, dancers and other uniquely Japanese weirdness.

Descending from Sengenyama you once again head into the forest by taking the path to the right from where you came. There is the cherry on the cake at the end of the trial: a small yet beautiful waterfall.

Duration: 3.5 hours
Length: 7.5 km
Difficulty: Easy, but some parts are quite steep
Starting coordinates: 35°13’56.1″N 139°05’56.0″E
Final coordinates: 35°14’07.0″N 139°03’00.2″E

Trail 2: The uphill struggle

Gora Park fountain
Gora Park | Photo by iStock.com/Hiro1775

After this “warm-up” hike and taking some time to visit Gora (a town peppered with hot springs, nature and art museums), it is time for something more challenging.

Heading up to Myojogatake from Gora, you will first pass through a quite unexciting residential area—but no worries, things pick up. After briefly following a nature path you will be back in the open plains with views all around. This part of the trail is the toughest part due to its steep climb upwards.

After about 30 minutes you will join the main trail that runs from the outskirts of Odawara to our final destination. (Yes you just cheated a bit by only doing the last 1/3 of the trip.) Shortly after, you will be treated to one of the most impeccable views of Mount Fuji rising above the clouds.

Duration: 3.5 hours
Length: 11 km
Difficulty: Medium
Starting coordinates: 35°15’53.5″N 139°03’18.0″E
Final coordinates: 35°16’19.8″N 139°00’43.8″E

Trail 3: Tokaido road trekking

Hiking in Hakone, Tokaido Road
Photo by iStock.com/igaguri_1

The last trail is by far the easiest of the three but at the same time also the most famous. Connecting the ancient capital of Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo), the Tokaido Road was Japan’s feudal era equivalent of Route 66. Only some parts of the road were paved with stones but the majority of the journey had to be done over dirt tracks covered which occasionally were covered with cut bamboo.

A short section of the paved road still remains in Hakone from Moto-Hakone near Lake Ashi. From here you can follow in the footsteps of the thousands who had traveled between the two cities in the soothing shadows of the forest.

Amazake-chaya tea house in Hakone
The family that run this tea house have been serving up tasty brews for over 350 years. | Photo by Carey Finn

After approximately two kilometers, you will see the traditional rest house named Amazake Chaya emerge through the trees. The thatched-roofed building with its darkened beams truly feels as if you have gone back in time and are about to take a rest after a long journey. The rest house’s specialty, as its name suggests, is amazake—a sweet rice wine which is served with pickles.

Suggested Activity
Navigate Japan with a Saily eSIM from $US3.99
With mobile data packages from $US3.99 for 1GB to $US22.99 for 20GB, Saily has your Japan data needs covered. Saily is brought to you by the people behind NordVPN.

The trial can be followed all the way up to Hakone-Yumoto, but the scenic parts tends to end in the small town of Hatajuku from where you can take a bus.

Duration: 1 hours (Hatajuku) or 2.5 hours (Hakone Yumoto)
Length: 3 km or 10 km
Difficulty: Easy
Starting coordinates: 35°12’14.6″N 139°02’09.1″E
Hatajuku coordinates: 35°12’31.4″N 139°03’26.6″E
Hakone-Yumoto coordinates: 35°13’59.8″N 139°06’13.9″E

Need a break from hiking? See our cheapo day guide on things to do in Hakone.

Ask our local experts about Tokyo

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Watch this next

Recommended hotels located nearby