Mt. Hachibuse lies to the east of Matsumoto, opposite of the Japan Alps. It has an elevation of 1,928 meters and can be thoroughly enjoyed both by hiking or cycling.
I don’t think there’s a better high elevation picnic spot (around the region! The trail from Tobira Onsen takes a few hours, but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Japanese Alps and Mt. Fuji is often visible too. The top of Mt. Hachibuse is less rugged than other mountains and its rounded shape and open space make it a good place to spread a blanket and enjoy your picnic lunch with friends.
The trailhead begins at Tobira Onsen (get there by car/taxi only). The trail leads you through a forest and along a mountain stream for a 1.5 to 2 hours. Check out the moss-covered rocks in the stream. The second part of the hike is a one hour switchback climb from the stream to the treeline and on to the peak. Near the top, there’s a tea shop and some cabins for rent.
For cars, motorbikes, and bicycles, the road begins near the Shiojiri border at Gakenoyu Hot Springs. See Mt. Hachibuse Biking below:
The Hachibuse mountain bike trail is THE trail to explore in all of Nagano Prefecture! It’s 11 kilometers of challenge, beauty, and stamina and it all starts and ends right here in Matsumoto. Yes, you’ll burn those thighs and calves during the 2-1/2 to 4-hour climb up from the center of town but it is well worth it when you get on top and see a complete panorama of the Japanese Alps. We certainly recommend a rest stop on top after pedaling up. Then, put the helmet back on, mount and get ready for a ridgetop ride full of exhilaration!
The main climb starts from Gakenoyu Onsen. Stay on the main road up to the top of the ridge, then turn left and it’s a few kilometers to the tea shop and parking area.
FOR THE DOWNHILL: Take the dirt trail that heads away from the tea shop and soon you’ll make a left turn towards the ridge. After a couple hundred meters, you need to again bear left to stay off the road. The trail is flat along the ridge for a few minutes, then begins the long DESCENT towards central Matsumoto and the valley below. At one point, you’ll cross a narrow gravel road and pick-up the trail on the other side. Later on in the ride, you’ll again encounter the gravel road. Keep an eye on the left side of the ride, where the trail will again thrust you into the woods and down down down! The end of the trail comes out near the Susuki River in the eastern area of Matsumoto City. This is a downhill you won’t soon forget!