How to walk and enjoy around Lake Toya

This place is written as [洞爺湖] in Japanese.

Lake Toya is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Hokkaido. Known nationwide for its hot spring resorts, it rivals Jozankei in Sapporo as one of Hokkaido’s top tourist spots. Consequently, many foreign visitors also come to this area.

While relaxing in the hot springs at your hotel is a great way to enjoy your stay, you should take the opportunity to explore the various attractions around the area. There are many places worth visiting around Lake Toya.

Lake Toya and Surrounding Tourist Spots

Lake Toya and its surroundings boast numerous tourist spots, and here are a few highlights.

Road Station Toya

First, if you head towards Lake Toya from Sapporo via Jozankei and over Nakayama Pass, you will pass Kimobetsu and Rusutsu, reaching the northern side of Lake Toya with Mount Yotei behind you. The first stop is Road Station Toya, where you can take a restroom break and buy local specialties. Although there is an observation deck behind it, the view of Lake Toya might not be the best.

Silo Observatory

Continuing on, you will reach Silo Observatory, likely recognizable by the many cars and tour buses parked there. From here, you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Lake Toya. It’s a perfect spot for photography!

Lake Hill Farm

As you continue straight towards Lake Toya, you will find Lake Hill Farm, an ice cream shop. In the summer, you might see long lines of people waiting for soft-serve ice cream and gelato. There is a large parking lot available.

Lake Toya Ranch

Further down the winding road towards Lake Toya, on the right-hand side, you’ll find Lake Toya Ranch, where you can go horseback riding. The well-trained and gentle horses make it suitable even for beginners over 140 cm tall. You can enjoy a 40-minute horse trekking experience through the mountainous trails, available in both summer and winter. Some horses might get a bit lazy, so your enthusiasm will be put to the test.

Mount Usu Eruption Memorial Park

Driving along the lakeside, after a few curves, you’ll find the Mount Usu Eruption Memorial Park on the left. This is a great place to get a panoramic view of Lake Toya.

Lake Toya Visitor Center & Volcano Science Museum

Just a 30-second drive from the park, you’ll see a slightly larger building on the right: the Lake Toya Visitor Center & Volcano Science Museum. Here, you can learn about how Lake Toya was formed due to the eruptions of Mount Usu, one of the most monitored volcanoes in Hokkaido. Behind the building, you can explore the ruins of a town buried by the massive eruption in 2000, witnessing the incredible power of volcanic activity.

Surrounding Crater Trails and Observatories

You can also drive to the crater observation park behind the museum.

Toya Mizu-no-eki (Water Station)

Heading back north on the road you came from, take the narrow right-hand path when the road splits. This road is narrow, so drive carefully, and watch out for cyclists exploring the lakeside. After about 20 minutes, you’ll reach Toya Mizunoeki. Enjoy the scenic drive with the lake on your right. Alternatively, you can take the safer and faster main road, passing the Silo Observatory and following the signs down to the lakeside.

It might be a good idea to enjoy canoeing or kayaking around this area. There are rental canoes available, so if you have the time, give it a try. At Lake Toya, you can launch a canoe from almost anywhere except for private lakeshores.

Mount Usu and Showa Shinzan

From the Lake Toya Visitor Center & Volcano Science Museum, continue right, past the hot spring town, and follow the signs to Mt.Showa Shinzan and Mount Usu. Setting your GPS or Google Maps will help you navigate. At the Showa Shinzan Park Service Center, you’ll find a paid parking lot. The small hill to the left is Showa Shinzan, and to the right, you can take a ropeway up Mount Usu to enjoy spectacular views.

Mount Usu can also be hiked, but be aware that bears have become more common in the area. Ensure you have proper gear and preparation if you plan to hike.

These spots provide a comprehensive experience of Lake Toya and its natural beauty, making your visit truly memorable.

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