Numa Meguri hiking trail (Written by Sounkyo Hostel staff)


Today I want to introduce a magical spot called Kogen Onsen, one of the most beautiful area in Daisetsuzan National Park. Kogen Onsen located in rural area on the east side of Daisetsuzan National Park. There are small mountain lodge in the base called Kogen Onsen Sanso(高原温泉山荘) with a great onsen, a must finishing of long hiking day. You can have some lunch here as well. From here you can reach Midoridake(緑岳)2019m and either exploring many other hiking trails that goes further into the park. But today I reached the “Numa Meguri hiking trail”(沼巡りコース), also knowing by the name of “bear trekking”.  This circle trail is well known as one of the best places to see fall foliage in Japan. Also is a home for brown bears, that give the name “bear trekking”.





今回は、それらではなく、海外の人から“Bear trekking”とも言われている“沼巡りコース”について紹介します。




Location: Daisetsuzan Kogen Onsen, Numa Meguri course(沼巡りコース)

場所:高原温泉 沼巡りコース


Access: There are a pave road that lead to Kogen Onsen opening from mid of June to mid of October, with no public transportation(except in the peak time of mid-end of September, then busses operated from Sounkyo Onsen and Lakeside to Kogen Onsen few times a day), making the access a bit difficult if you don’t have your own car. 



Course time: 4-5 hours, about 7km (the whole circle)



Best season: Mid of June to early September for green colors (from June to July you can watch some flowering with snowy mountains view). Mid-end of September is the high peak for watching autumn leave.



 Opening time: 7:00-15:00(last entering time is 13:00pm)




Before you start walking you have to pass through the Higuma(brown bear) information center(ヒグマ情報センター) to registered and getting some short lecture about the area. This information is important to make your hiking enjoyable and safety, without making any damage to the nature. This is the place to get some more deep information about brown bears and the staff there are welcoming and will be happy to help.







Starting point for the day, Higuma information center




Please noticed that from time to time the whole circle cannot be done and you can be able to walk just half of the trail, according to trail conditions and bears founding. 

The decent elevation changing and a good trail conditions that maintenances by the staff, making this hike accessible also for beginners. The trail cover by beautiful forest, going through a small ponds and swamps, some easy river crossing and a great view of the Daisetsuzan mountains. Even though, a proper hiking shoes and some rain proof equipment are recommended.






 If you visit during mid of June to mid of July, you can get the view of wonderful flowering with some snow covering mountains. During the summer most of the snow are melting and the whole area covered by various green colors,preparing the ground for the fall foliage. 

I tried to catch the fall foliage and share it with you, but unexpected snow covers the park, make my trip even more exciting. I blessed to have an opportunity to experience the same area in different season this year, watching the changing of flora and fauna.






The snow almost disappeared, end of June

6月下旬 雪はほとんど溶けています。




The park getting alive




As I mentioned before, mid of September is the peak season in kogen onsen. People from the whole country reached the place to catch the magical autumn colors. Comparing to the summer, during this time brown bears rarely watched, make it more safety to hiking. Even though you should be pay attention, follow the instructions you got in the information center about how to react when you meet a bear.





This is what I excepted





But this what I am got, still wonderful





One of many hot spring sources in the area







The differences between seasons, Midori Numa pond.





Kogen Numa pond





Kamo Numa pond




One of the most significant things I realize during my stay this year in Daisetuzan, is the fact that there a lot of people involved to protect the environment and make it more accessible to visitors. From cable car operations in Sounkyo and Asahidake onsen, during mountain hut keepers, information centers, rangers patrol, trails maintenance etc. All these peoples working days and nights to protecting the nature and making the hiking experience more enjoyable and unforgettable. The higuma information center staff are also part of “Yama Mori Tai”(山守隊), an organization that take care about park preserving, caring about trails maintenance among others . I had luck this year to join one of theirs events accruing during the summer season. They gather some volunteers (this year around 30 peoples joined!) and the whole group climbing up together and fixing some part of the trails. It was a great experience make me understand and appreciate the effort that the people of the park invest to preserve the nature. Remember the next time when you pass some small bridge when you cross the river, how much effort it took to build this small part.








You will see a lot of heavy lumbers along the trail. Ask the staff of the Higuma information center how much it weighs.

コース沿いにたくさんの補修用の木材があります。 どれぐらい重かったのかは運んできたヒグマ情報センターのスタッフに聞いてみてください。




Easy river crossing





Staff checking if it safe to make the whole circle just before Kara Numa pond.




I didn’t expected walking on heavy snow, so I didn’t properly prepared. I finished saturated and exhausted but with a smile on my face. Walking in the nature makes me calm and happy. Having bath in the next building onsen(800 Yen) will be wonderful finish for the day. Either walking Numa Meguri trail or other part of Daisetsuzan National Park, you will have an unforgettable experience you can only have in Hokkaido. When you are visiting this area, please remember to not make any damage for the nature. We should protect the nature as the nature protect and giving us what we need for life.






Written by Ishii Mai, Sounkyo Hostel staff

層雲峡ホステル 石井舞