Mount Kisokomagatake, also known as Mount Kisokoma (木曽駒ヶ岳) for short, is a popular mountain in the Nagano prefecture. With a convenient rope-way which runs all-year-round, it is easy to access from Komagane city in the Ina Valley.
As the highest peak in the Kiso mountains, it is unsurprising that Mount Kisokoma is a popular spot. However, with thanks to the rope-way, the mountain is accessible to both climbing enthusiasts and the less serious – who may just want to see the great views and beautiful flora without the usual long haul. But some people, like yours truly, kinda like the long haul in itself. If you are like me and would rather earn that first breathtaking look from the summit then read on. I have not only dug up the hiking trail from a Japanese blog, I have also personally verified that it is still possible to climb Mount Kisokoma on foot and documented it all for you!
How Long is the Hike?
The hike is rather lengthy, taking about six hours at a reasonably quick pace. More importantly, once you get to the top of Kisokoma, there are a number of things to see and do, so you probably want to give yourself as much time as possible. For this reason I recommend getting there as early as you can by taking the first bus (5am) to the start of the trial. Unfortunately, many others will have the same idea so you might want to start queuing a little earlier. Luckily for us, there is a campground called Family Village (駒ヶ根高原家族旅行村アルプスの丘) in Komagatake which makes all of this much easier. Staying here puts you in a good position to get there on time, and it even has an open air hot spring!
Part 1. Taking the Bus to the Trail
The hiking trail to Mount Kisokoma is located about halfway up the route 75 road from Komagane’s bus center. Unfortunately this road is off limits to private vehicles, so you will need to board the rope-way bus and get off a little early.
As we have to buy our tickets before boarding the bus, make sure to not pay the full price all the way to the cable car station! You want to ask for a ticket to Kitagosho basutei (Kitagosho bus stop / 北御所バス停). The ticket will set you back 560 yen. There is probably a return discount, but I cheated and returned home via the cable car, so I’m not entirely sure.
We get off the bus earlier than pretty much everyone else, so you will have to press the button or inform the driver beforehand that you want to get off at Kitagosho basutei.
Part 2: Finding the Trail-head from the Bus Stop
The trail-head to Mount Kisokoma is pretty obvious. But you will find that the first hour or so is actually just a road!
I do not have the history to back this up, but it looks as if the road continued up this way to the ‘real’ trail-head before the cable car started.
Just before we reach the real trail-head there are some functioning toilets (suggesting that it is still in use).
Here we have the trail-head (蛇腹沢登山口). Be careful though because when I got here the sign had fallen over and we totally missed it!
If you get to this road (shown below) where the mountain has collapsed, you too missed the trail-head and you should turn back to 蛇腹沢登山口 (photo above).
Here is the sign indicating the start of the trail… Just a little hard to read!
Part 3: Following the Trail
The trail is actually pretty easy to follow despite its seeming disuse.
Alas…Udonya (うどんや) is not an udon restaurant, but it’s still a good spot to stop for lunch!
The trail gets a lot steeper from here on out, as we really get into the rocky Japanese Central Alps.
Suddenly… Rain! The weather turns on mountains very easily so it’s always good to prepare and bring your rain coat, even on a sunny hot day like this day was.
Yes… It is always good to… But I did not!
Just before we reach the first summit, the summit of Inashimaedake (伊那前岳) the mountain becomes rockier and greener. It’s tranquil. It feels quite different to the dry Northern Alps, and the more level Southern Alps.
The summit of Inashimaedake! At 2883.6 meters we are pretty high up!
From here we can easily follow the path down to Kisokoma’s first mountain hut (宝剣山荘), and begin exploring the Japanese Central Alps.
Bus Center / 菅の台バスセンター
Coordinates: 35.743001, 137.891095
Fare to trail head: 560 yen.
Trail-head Bus Stop
Kitagosho basutei / 北御所バス停
Komagane Kogen Alpine Hill Family Village / 駒ヶ根高原家族旅行村アルプスの丘
Camp GroundOpen: April 1st to November 30th, 9:00 to 17:00
Hot spring hours: 10:00 to 21:00