Mt. Echizen-dake Trail Option 2
Total Distance: 8 to 10 km
Trail option 2: Ashitaka Touzan Iriguchi -> Wara Ishi Pass -> Mt. Hourai -> Waraishi Pass -> Mt. Yobikodake -> Mt. Echizendake -> Jyurigi Highland (More Challenging)
From the Ashitaka Touzan Iriguchi, trot along the forest trail to the mountain shrine. Instead of turning right and up toward the Fujimi Pass, go straight along the forest trail. You’d be hiking along the river, which would be dry in autumn and winter. At one point, you’d be trekking along the rocks of the river bed to continue on the trail for an hour. It’s a slight incline up but not too steep. Continue along the trail toward the first fork in the trail.
Option A (Challenging): Keep walking on the trail, past the first landmark, which is a very large pine tree. It’s a 2-and-a-half hour hike from the mountain shrine to the Wari Ishi-touge or the Split Stone pass. This part of the trail is going to be a little more difficult as you’d be scrambling up and down steep steps and hauling yourself up using the vegetation around you. There would be ropes to help you along a portion of the trail here. It is not impossible for beginner hikers, but do be very careful. I hiked through this part with a bad knee and I used a walking stick to maintain my balance. There is a pay off for that hard work. Mount Hourai is a 25-minute hike from the Spilt Stone or 15 minutes, if you are part-moutain goat.
From Mt. Hourai, retrace your steps back to the split stone and toward Mt. Yobikodake (height: 1310m). The name of this mountain translates as Mt. Whistle. Perhaps the reason for this is the wind blowing through these mountains sounds like someone whistling very loudly. Walk along the Gara gara shita trail, which is a narrow trail and you’d feel like one mis-step and you’d be tumbling down the cliff on either side. Be careful, the winds here are very strong. Do note that the winds here can be pretty strong, so it is advisable to attempt this hike on a relatively windless day. It’s an hour’s hike from Mt. Yobikodake to Mt. Echizendake.
Option B (Challenging): Ashitaka Touzan Iriguchi -> Higashizawa-bunki Fork -> [Side trip to Mt. Mae-dake and Mt. Ihai -> Mt. Yobiko-dake -> Mt. Echizen-dake
Hikers are advised to avoid the Mt. Hourai to Mt. Ihai trail. To get to Mt. Ihai, keep following the forested path instead of turning right at the mountain shrine. The path runs parallel with the river bed. At the Higashizawa-bunki Fork, take a left and head onto the trail toward Mt. Mae-dake (1336m). The trail to the left will lead you to Mt. Ihai, avoiding the trail that is off-limits to hikers. From Mt.Ihai, turn around and hike back to the Higashizawa Fork. Depending on your stamina, amount of daylight and if you are rushing for the last bus, decide if you are going to continue toward Wari-Ishi dake to see the split stone or call it a day.
Note that this trail can take some time to complete because you have to backtrack to the Higashizawa-bunki Fork. Plan your time carefully and ensure that you have enough time to head toward the bus stop to catch the last bus down the mountain.
Ashitaka Touzan Iriguchi -> Higashizawa-bunki Fork (55 minutes) -> [Side return trip ] Mt. Mae-dake -> Mt. Ihai -> Mt. Mae-dake -> Higashizawa-bunki Fork (220 minutes) -> Dai-Ni Kerun Trail (40 minutes) -> Mt. Yobiko-dake (60 minutes) -> Mt. Echizen-dake (65 minutes) -> Jyurigi Highland bus stop or Ashitaka Touzan Iriguchi (120 minutes)
Total hiking time: 9 to 10 hours
Option C (Extremely Challenging): At the fork in the trail, turn left and southward onto the trail to hike toward Mt. Ihai. It’s a challenging trail which requires clambering over rocks and pulling oneself with ropes that have been attached to the rocky cliff. It’s best to avoid this trail, if you aren’t confident. From Mt. Ihai, it is possible to head in a northwest direction toward Mt. Hourai and The Wari Ishi Pass. It takes at least 80 minutes to complete this trail. Give yourself lots of extra time to maneuver around the rocks.
N.B. The updated map for this trail advises hikers to avoid the Mt. Hourai to Mt. Ihai trail because of the danger of falling.
Ashitaka Trailhead -> Kitazawa De-au (60 minutes) -> Wari Ishi Pass (90 minutes) -> Mt. Hourai (30 minutes) -> Mt. Yobikodake (30 minutes) -> Mt. Echizen-dake (70 minutes) -> Jyurigi Highland bus stop (120 minutes)
(OR) Mt. Echizen-dake -> Ashitaka Touzan Iriguchi (120 minutes)
Total hiking time: 8 hours