6 hours, 8.5 km (highest point: 1,382m, lowest point: 910 m above sea level)
Start the trail from the top of Mt. Madarao. Choose any one of the many approach trails from Madarao Kogen. On clear days, hikers can catch a full glimspe of the Sekida Mountains, boosting their determination to trek through the Shin-etsu Trail. Nearing the top, you will come across Daimyojin Peak. Lake Nojiri, The Five Peaks of Northern Nagano, and some of the Northern Japan Alps peaks can be seen from here. Descend the switchback route on the ski slope to Manzaka Gap. The Manzaka Gap provides one of the best views in the entire Shin-etsu Trail. It can, however, get very hot in the summer as there are no large trees for shade. After this, climb up to Hakama Peak, passing through a beautiful Japanese beech-tree and birch (B. ermanii) forest. Although there is not much of a view at the summit of Hakama Peak, its large, open spaces make it a great place to stop for lunch. Next, descend to Akaike through a switchback trail that has occasional gaps, followed by about 1.5 km of cleared forestry road. Along the road, you will encounter pagodas and old char-burning huts which you can view at your leisure. There are bathrooms and a 20-car parking lot near Akaike.
6 hours, 10.7km (highest point: 1,022 m, lowest point: 563 m above sea level)
From Akaike, walk over a small hill and through the beech-tree forest to Numanohara Wetlands, which blossom with flowers after the spring thaw. On the northern side, there are bathrooms and a 10-car parking lot.
Walk over another small hill to Lake Nozori. From the top of the hill, Mt. Madarao, Hakama Peak and even Mt. Myoko can be seen on a clear day. From the boat pier of Lake Nozari, Mt. Madarao can be seen head on, casting a perfect reflection over the water on windless days. There is a bathroom near the entrance to the Mt. Kenashi climb. This climb to the top takes about 30 minutes and brings you to a superb view over Iiyama Basin, making a perfect spot for a lunch break. Descend through the larch-tree forest to Wakui Shinike, and then continue along the farm road., The road is lined with refreshing patches of spring water -- the perfect treat for an exhausted hiker. Turn left at the paved road where it will be about 500 m to Route 292 in Wakui Village.
(via Tomikura Gap, Lake Sobu, Mt.Kuroiwa and Lake Katsura)
7 hours, 12.7 km (highest point: 938 m, lowest point: 563 above sea level)
As the area is currently under construction, you will have to follow detour signs through a temporary trail starting from Route 292 in Wakui. Eventually, you will come upon a woodland road in the middle of a cedar plantation. This road takes you to Tomikura Gap, once a well-used area of trade and commerce between Shinano and Echigo. Further up, there is a historical site called Taishojin, where Kenshin Uesugi set up a lookout to keep an eye over Iiyama and Kita Gap territories. The road continues to a reservoir called Lake Sobu, where there is a small shrine by the water, and then to Mt. Kuroiwa. The whole mountain is listed as a natural monument of Japan, being a rare habitat area for both Gibu Butterflies and Hime Gibu Butterflies, as well as the frog species, Rhacophorus arboreus (called “moriaogaeru” in Japanese). Within the beautiful Japanese beech-tree forest there is a vista point that overlooks the Iiyama Basin. In the area surrounding Lake Katsura, where skunk cabbages bloom during springtime, there is a natural spring called, Taro Shimizu.
From Hiramaru Gap, walk along the western bank of Lake Nakafuruike. Walk past the Kitafuruike Wetlands on the forestry road, coming to an open space where you will find a Shin-etsu Trail signboard. From this point, the trail enters into a national forest. Walk through the cedar forest, passing over some small streams, to arrive at Hotokegamine Tozanguchi in Togari Ski Resort. There is a T-junction along the way -- the right keeps you on Shin-etsu trail, and the left is an approach trail that leads to a wind cave and then back to Togari Onsen Village. Hotokegamine Tozanguchi gives you an excellent view over Iiyama, and from here it is only a 15 minute walk downhill on a gravel path to Tondaira Parking Lot, making it easily accessible by cars.
6 hours, 8.2 km (highest point: 1,288 m, lowest point: 830 m above sea level)
From Hotokegamine Tozanguchi, the trail winds in and out of the beech-tree forests and ski slopes, eventually leading to the highest ridge of the mountains. You will have a beautiful outlook over Nabekura Kōgen and Iiyama Valley from here. After going up and down a few hills, you will arrive at Ozawa Gap. If you go down the Niigata side, you will come to Lake Yoshihachi, and if you go down the Nagano side, you will come to Tondaira Slope of the Togari Ski Resort.
The main trail will lead you to a beautiful, 100 year old beech-tree forest -- a lovely spot to break for lunch. The climb to Mt. Nabekura involves many narrow ridges, so caution is needed when passing other hikers. The climb to the top can be a bit strenuous, but the effort will be well rewarded by the view of Mt. Myōkō, Mt. Hiuchi and the majestic Chikuma River winding through Iiyama Basin. Continuing on to Mt. Kurokura, you will see the Sea of Japan. Descend to Sekida Gap where there is a 5-car parking space. On the Niigata side, there is a Shin-etsu Trail Visitor Center, Green Pal Kōgensō, where trail information is available. Near the Sekida Gap, there is a quaint pond called Chayaike, where there is a bathroom and a rest house.
6 hours, 12.4 km (highest point: 1,140 m, lowest point: 970 m above sea level)
This is the flattest section of Shin-etsu Trail -- excellent if you are in the mood for an easy and leisurely walk. The area is dotted with seasonal flowers, as well as young beech-trees bent by the weight of winter snow. On a clear day, you can see the Sea of Japan and Sado Island from Maki Gap. Mt. Hanatate also offers a breathtaking view. Walk past Utsunomata Gap to find Maboroshi-no-Ike, Lake of the Phantom. Surrounded by a native beech-tree forest, Maboroshi-no-Ike is about 300 m round and is a spawning ground for moriaogaeru (the frog species Rhacophorus arboreus) and Japanese black salamanders. You will start to see Mt. Hishigatake, a Niigata landmark, as you approach Busuno Gap.
6 hours, 12.65 km (highest point: 1,151 m, lowest point: 1,015 m above sea level)
This is the final section of the Shin-etsu Trail and leads to Mt. Amamizu, the northern endpoint. This part of the trail is almost entirely shrouded in beautiful beech-tree forests, with many viewpoints over the Niigata Delta.
About 1 km before Nonomi Gap, you will see the Nishimado Wetlands just off the trail. Note that access to the wetlands is restricted due to the presence of protected wetland plants. From Nonomi Gap, a forestry road leads you past Lake Nonomi to Misaka Gap, a great rest spot with a view. Reaching the peak of Mt. Amamizu, you can gaze out at the landscape of Tsunan, comparing it to that of Madarao from the first day of your trek. Reaching the end of your 80km journey, just imagine the sense of accomplishment that you will feel at having completed the Shin-etsu Trail in its entirety!
There are five visitor centers along the Shin-etsu Trail. Each center offers up-to-date, seasonal information on the condition of the trail.
Madarao Kōgen Yamanoie
Madarao Kōgen, Iiyama-shi, Nagano-ken
Open 9:00 - 17:00
By car: 25 minutes from the Toyoda Iiyama IC and Myōkō Kōgen IC of the Jōshin-etsu Expressway.
By train: A 30 minute bus ride with on Iiyama-shi Community Bus from JR Iiyama Line Iiyama Station, and then a brief walk from Happōzuka But Stop.
Parking lot capacity: 50 cars
Various eco-tours and outdoor events, equipment rental (Fees are charged by the day; rubber boots: ¥300, snow shoes:¥800, poles: ¥200).
This facility stands at the southern gateway to the Shin-etsu Trail, in Madarao Kōgen. Information about the Shin-etsu Trail, as well as information on the various trails within Madarao Kōogen, including accommodation and, places of interest, is provided here. It has a spacious lounge, and a terrace with a magnificent view.
Nabekura Kōogen Morinoie
Nabekura Kōgen, Iiyama-shi, Nagano-ken
Open: 8:00 - 19:00
By car: 40 minuntes from the Toyoda Iiyama IC of the Jōshin-etsu Expressway.
By train: A 20 minute taxi ride from JR Iiyama Line Togari Nozawa Onsen Station.
Parking lot Capacity: 40 cars
Various eco-tours and outdoor events, 10 cottages for lodging, a café, equipment rental (Fees charged by the day- rubber boots: ¥100, winter boots: ¥500, snow shoes: ¥2,000, poles: ¥500, spats: ¥300).
Located near Maki Gap, this visitor center is also the official office of the Shin-etsu Trail Club. Information about the trail as well as Mt. Nabekura is available here. Nature guides are dispatched through this site.
Green Pal Kōgensō
Hikarigaoka Kōgen, Itakura-ku, Jōoetsu-shi, Niigata-ken
July-October: Phone: 080-8858-9776;
Winter season: Phone: 0255-78-2141 (connects to the Jōoetsu-shi Itakura-ku General Office)
Hours: 10:00 - 16:00 (from May 30th to October 31st, 2009)
Open: Daily through July and August, Friday to Monday in September and October.
By car: 50 minutes from the Jōoetsu IC of the Hokuriku Expressway.
By train: A 35 minute bus ride on the Keinan Bus from JR Shin-etsu Honsen Line Arai Station, then a 2 hour and 30 minute walk from Kamisekida Bus Stop. (Or, a 40 minute taxi ride from Arai Station)
Parking lot capacity: 70 cars
Cafeteria (open in July and August), 4 cabins, a camping site, a kitchen facility.
*A reservation is required for use of the camping site, and must be made at least one week in adviance. Contact Eshin-no-Kinenkan at (Phone: 0255-81-4541).
This center is located in Hikarigaoka Kōogen, 1,000m above sea level. Located near Sekida Gap and just off of a prefectural road connecting Nagano with Niigata, near , Jōoetsu Iiyama Line, it allowsi easy access to the Shin-etsu Trail by way of anthe approach trail.
Cupid Valley Center House
Sugawa, Yasuzuka-ku, Jōetsu-shi, Niigata-ken
Open: 9:00 - 17:00 (during Golden Week and summer holidays only)
*Office is open throughout the year, for inquiries made by phone or e-mail.
By car: 90 minutes from the Rokkamachi IC of the Kan-etsu Expressway, or 40 minutes from the Jōetsu IC of the Hokuriku Expressway.
By train: A 25 minute bus ride on the Tōkei Bus from the Hokuhoku Line Mushigawaosugi Station, and then a 5 minute walk from Sugawa Bus Stop.
Parking lot capacity: 120
*Nearby facilities offer additional parking.
A public hot spring area for day trips (Yukidaruma Onsen and Darumatei Japanese Restaurant), Lodgings (Onsen-no-Yado Kubikino).
Located near Busuno Gap, with its comfortable hot springs and lodgings, this center provides a perfect start to the Shin-etsu Trail from the Niigata side. It is a ski resort in the winter, and provides a habitat for many valuable mountain plants from spring to autumn, which can be viewed along Hishigatake Peak.
Daigenji Kōgen Resthouse, Kibokan
Daigenji Kōgen, Amamizugoe, Matsunoyama, Tōkamachi-shi Phone: 025-596-2556
Open: 8:30 -17:00 (from May 25th to November 3rd, 2009).
By car：60 minutes from the Jōetsu IC of the Hokuriku Expressway, the Toyoda Iiyama IC of the Jōshin-etsu Expressway, and the Shiozawa Ishiuchi IC of the Kan-etsu Expressway.
By train: A 25 minute bus ride on the Tōkei Bus from Hokuhoku Line Matsudai Station, then a 20 minunte taxi ride from Matsunoyama Onseniriguchi Bus Stop.
Parking lot capacity: 100 cars
A cafeteria, an onsen with adjacent accommodation facility, two cottages, five cabins and a camping site with an adjacent camping facility.
This facility sits at the eastern gateway to the Shin-etsu Trail. You can relax in the surrounding pastures or enjoy a dip in the Matsunoyama Hot Sping, which is famous for its medicinal effects. There is a young, beautiful Japanese beech-tree forest on the route to Mt. Amamizu.