Hiking Nikko Japan – Hangetsu Mountain
The trailhead is walking distance from either the Kegon waterfall bus stop or Tachiki Kannon Iriguchi bus stop. This trail in Nikko National Park is great for everyone as it has a mixture of peaks, hills, slopes and places to rest.
It takes about 6 hours to hike the entire loop; starting from the gate (Torii) at the entrance to Chuzenji Lake, crossing the plateaux of Chanokidaira, peak of Nujin, the peak of Hangetsu and walking lakeside from Mujina Kubo, past the Italian Embassy Villa and Chuzen Temple.
You will climb to a plateaux, descend and ascend to Nujina peak and again descend and ascend to Hangetsu with the final descent to Chuzenji Lake.
You will find this trail on the Oku Nikko tourist map (not a topographical map) available at the Nikko Tourist Information Center (Gokomachi). A link to their .pdf is kept updated here.
The trailhead is about a 15 minute walk from Kegon waterfall. Near to the trailhead there is a little view of Chuzenji Lake and Nantai rising from it.
The trail has a rather simple beginning. The first view of Chuzenji is quite soon. The next highlight on the trail to Hangetsu is the Chanokidaira. Essentially, you will almost completely descend and ascend to get to the plateaux.
Mostly covered by the growth and vegetation of the area, the Chanoki Daira (Plateaux) is a great spot for a little break. There are several sets of benches to sit down at.
There is certainly much wildlife in this area. Sit down and enjoy the bird chirps and smaller creatures >
The path continues across the plateaux for a couple of minutes and soon the decent approaches.
Along the hike, there are several places to rest at and some look-out decks. Soon the hiking trail merges with the parking area of the abandoned Chuzenji Observatory. The trail splits again from the road and is at a slight incline for several minutes.
The peak of Hangetsu is actually completely surrounded by trees with no view of the area, you have to continue about 10 minutes to the lookout deck further along the path >
Had we been a little quieter on our approach, we would have seen the deer that were likely sleeping under the deck >
On the way to Lake Chuzenji, the descent is pretty quick with switchbacks for a great part of it. Most of the way down, if you listen carefully, you will hear a creak to the left (west) flowing down to Chuzenji Lake. It is off-trail and worth a look. When you reach Mujinakubo at Chuzenji Lake, it is a great remote area with a splendid view >
The walk back along the river is mostly quiet. The two main attractions are the Italian Embassy Villa Park and Chuzen Temple.