Nagano prefecture is known as the ‘roof of Japan’, with endless mountain ranges, sometimes reaching heights of 3000 meters. There are so many opportunities for hiking in Nagano.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Nagano; it is one of Japan’s most popular spots for snow sports, onsen, snow monkeys, temples, castles, and, of course, hiking in Nagano is very popular too!
The prefecture is abundant in nature and beauty, so it’s no surprise that there are so many places to go hiking in Nagano. Nagano hiking also draws in visitors from across the world since there are so many scenic hiking trails.
Nagano hiking offers a diverse set of hiking trails that can be enjoyed by walkers of all abilities. Listed below are some of the best places to go hiking in Nagano.
Part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a valley located at the base of the Japanese Alps. It’s a popular outdoor resort area that receives visitors from all across the country. The gorgeous Kamokochi valley is encompassed by large mountains, including Okuhotakadake, Nishihotakadake, and Maehotakadake, for some Nagano hiking.
Here there are a number of moderate hiking trails which can be enjoyed in less than a day. However, there are also some more challenging multi-day hikes for more experienced hikers. From Kappabashi, the iconic suspension bridge, hikers will find various hiking trails.
Kamikochi offers some of the most colorful hiking in Nagano, particularly during the autumn months, when the mountains glisten with autumn foliage in shades of red and orange. Over the summer months, the area is blanketed in alpine flowers. Wildlife lovers should keep an eye out for monkeys too!
If you’re on the lookout for different things to do in Nagano, visitors can stop by the Kamikochi Onsen Hotel to enjoy an open-air bath with a stunning mountain backdrop.
Kamikochi is only accessible by bus or taxi since private cars are banned.
Nakasendo (in the Kiso Valley)
If you’re wanting to enjoy some pleasant hiking in Nagano, whilst also getting to enjoy some of the prefectures’ history, this is the hike for you!
The Nakasendo is a trail that connected Kyoto and what is now known as Tokyo during the Edo period. The old rural post towns, such as Tsumago, are scenic and attract many visitors who take in the ambiance of the town and enjoy things to do in Nagano.
In Nagano, the trail passes through the Kiso Valley. The most popular section of the trail is an 8-kilometer route that connects Magome in Gifu to Tsumago in Nagano. If you want to step beyond Nagano hiking and cross into Gifu, this trail is an easy 3- or 4-hour hike.
Tsumago is filled with preserved traditional Japanese wooden houses and shops, with plenty of shops and little restaurants. Make sure to stroll around the town and take in the ruins of Tsumago Castle, Rurisan Kotoku-ji Temple, and the museum of history.
Mount Norikuradake is one of Japan’s top 100 mountains, and at 3026 meters high, it’s certainly an impressive spot to try out some hiking in Nagano. Norikura is the southernmost peak of the Northern Japan Alps. The Norikura Kogen highlands are close to Kamikochi and offer beautiful scenery, hiking trails, forests, waterfalls, hot springs, and other things to do in Nagano.
This is one of the best places to go hiking in Nagano if you want to reach a high elevation without such a long strenuous journey! There are buses that run almost all the way to the summit, so you can hop off and enjoy a more leisurely, but still breathtaking, hike.
Although there are long hiking trails from the base to the peak of Mount Norikuradake – if you’re looking for a challenge this might be the route for you!
If you are looking for more things to do in Nagano after your hike, check out Shirahone Onsen, which is a small onsen town known for its particularly milk spring water which is said to have various healing properties.
Part of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Murodo is the highest peak, offering jaw-dropping views of the Tateyama Mountain Range.
There are various hiking trails that pass-through mountain ponds and other exciting scenery. These begin close to the bus terminal. Jigokundani “Hell Valley” offers some of the most exciting Nagano hiking, where hikers can cross boardwalks to observe volcanic activity and take in an area that looks like another planet with all the volcanic colors.
One of the most popular trails is the hike up to the peak of Tateyama, which at 3015 meters is one of Japan’s highest peaks and a great spot to enjoy hiking in Nagano.
It is one of the best places to go hiking in Nagano, particularly in summer and early autumn when hikers can enjoy a variety of alpine flowers and vivid autumn foliage. In late autumn, as well as over winter and spring, Murodo isn’t accessible due to the heavy snow.
If you are looking for other things to do in Nagano, check out Murodo’s famous snow corridor. It is a road with snow walls reaching up to 20 meters high that tourists can enjoy between April and June by bus or on foot.
There are so many things to do in Nagano so please enjoy this magical prefecture! Since the prefecture has some of Japan’s most scenic nature and wildlife, as well as some interesting history and culture, there are plenty of places to go hiking in Nagano.
It is easy to combine some hiking in Nagano with other activities and beyond this list, there are endless other spots where you can get out and enjoy some hiking – put on your boots and let’s go!