How to hike Mt.Ichankoppe near Lake Shikotsu

Next to Lake Shikotsu lies Mount Ichankoppe. On the day we climbed, May 2, 2023, the weather was sunny, making it a perfect day for hiking.

This mountain stands at 829 meters and is relatively suitable for beginners, hence its popularity. Despite being a low mountain, it’s essential to come prepared with proper hiking gear, as mountain weather can change abruptly, and May on the mountain can still be quite chilly.

Driving from Sapporo to Lake Shikotsu, you’ll find a sizable parking lot called Poropinai Observation deck just before the last hairpin curve leading to the lake. The parking lot is on the right side, so if you’re coming from Sapporo, be sure to make a right turn while being mindful of oncoming traffic.

Because the parking lot is right after the hairpin curve, the approaching cars may start to pick up speed. While the parking lot also serves as an observation deck overlooking Lake Shikotsu, most cars parked here are of hikers aiming for Mount Ichankoppe.

If you arrive around noon on a holiday, there might not be any parking space available. However, it’s crucial never to park your car on the road, as it’s extremely dangerous.

Once parked and ready for the hike, first cross to the other side of the road. Be sure to exercise caution and look out for cars when crossing. The entrance to the trail is on the left side just past the hairpin curve, easily identifiable by the entry record box.

The beginning of the trail consists of steep uphill sections. It’s quite a challenging start! However, you should overcome the steeper slopes in about 30 minutes. Take a break and enjoy the panoramic view of Lake Shikotsu from here. This view gives you a sense of your accomplishment so far!

Within less than 30 minutes, you’ll find yourself sweating profusely. It’s essential to remove your outer layer to prevent excessive sweating and ensure you stay hydrated.

The climb continues, but beware that veering off the path at this point could lead you astray from Mount Ichankoppe. In fact, I’ve made that mistake before, so I can say it with confidence. Around this 30-minute mark, you’ll encounter a path veering to the right. This is the route to Mount Ichankoppe.

Straight ahead leads to Mount Horoppan, so be careful. Of course, you can also reach Mount Ichankoppe from Mount Horoppan, but it will exceed the planned course time, so be mindful.

Entering the gentle path on the right provides some respite for your legs. From there, you’ll see a downhill trail. At this point, Mount Ichankoppe, your destination, should be visible in the far-left background. However, what appears to be the summit of Mount Ichankoppe is actually a false peak. The true summit is further up and hidden from view from below.

As a side note, the view from the false peak is even better! With Lake Shikotsu close by and unobstructed views all around, it’s the perfect spot.

Once you think you’ve descended a bit, the trail will incline again. However, it’s not as steep. Once you pass through the tunnel of pine trees, the view should open up a bit. Then, another steep climb awaits you. This area is another test of endurance!

Once you’ve conquered this, you’ll reach the aforementioned false peak. This is an excellent spot to enjoy the meal you brought along. The view is splendid here.

After your break, continue toward the true summit. It’s another 30 minutes or so from here.

Above Poropinai Observation deck, a parking lot