Tokai Nature Trail Quick Summary!

If you follow me on twitter you probably know that I spent a couple of weeks in Japan recently, and as part of that trip I hiked part of the Tokai Nature Trail [official? Japanese site, wikipedia]

before

In doing my research for this trip, I discovered the trail itself and got lots of great information from Nomadic Tom’s blog about the trail, including GPX tracks of his walk, links to GPX tracks from someone else who had hiked the trail, etc.

On the third day on the trail, I discovered that in Shizuoka Prefecture there was a bypass course option, which, according to the sign board talking about it, included ropeways, ocean views, and other things. Since I hadn’t seen anything online about it (including on what I think is the official website for the trail), I thought I’d check it out, as it sounded pretty fun, and hopefully cut out the huge climbs I had been dreading looking forward to for a couple of days. It would also give me an opportunity to document the bypass course for others to be able to use later!

So I did. And I ran into some problems. I aim to have a more thorough writeup of the trip, especially the bypass course, but I thought I’d try to get the route information I have online sooner rather than later so others can benefit from it.

I spent a total of 9 days hiking, but the third day is split into 2 sections, mostly because I had almost given up and gone home that day, so I stopped Strava, but when I gave up further and decided to go back to the trail, I started it back up.

after

After I switched into “must document the route for others” mode, I tried to be as true to the trail as possible, and I intend to fix some of the mistakes later and publish a more accurate version of the routes, but this is what I walked, and it’s pretty close most of the time. The bypass course starts around mile 4 on the Day 3, part 1 segment, on the eastern end of Lake Tanuki, and continues until the end of day 9, when I meet up again with the main trail in Kurata, Fujieda City.

I recorded these with Strava on my iPhone, but have downloaded the GPX files and am hosting them locally if you don’t have a Strava account or Strava disappears or whatever.

Notable departures from the official route are mostly on day 8. I got off the train at Mochimune and there was no indication as to where the trail was. There were a couple of signboards outside the station with maps on them, but they didn’t look like the official trail signboards I’d been seeing for days, and they were in Japanese, so I couldn’t read them, and I knew where the route was further down, so I just kinda wandered toward it. The official route either goes straight to the coast from the train station, or *starts* there, as you can see what looks to be an official route sign on street view. Additionally, later in that day, when approaching Gyokuro-no-sato, the signage just disappears. Earlier in that day the signage changed slightly to fit in with the local trail network, but it had changed back to normal signage prior to disappearing. Fortunately, it was all along roads, so I was able to blaze my own trail fairly easily, but I feel like I missed out a bit! This is something I hope to call out explicitly in my detailed write-up, and hopefully adjust things to make it match the ‘official’ route at some point!

There are also a couple of options on the Day 5 track which take you down to stations on the Tokaido Main Line, which could easily be done without missing much of the “main” bypass course, or turned into a long day hike or a nice overnight trip starting from one station and walking to the other. In my more thorough writeup I’ll call out where these are and post photos I took of the signboards that mentioned them. I didn’t hike them, in large part because as of the split for the first option there had been no mention at all of any way to return to the main bypass course other than hiking down to the station and back up. Heading westbound on the trail here I often “ran out of map”, which was frustrating for planning as I only had a vague idea of where the trail was headed. Hopefully this information will help others who are on this section so they can enjoy their trip as much as I did!

If you use the information here, I’d really love to hear about it! If you have any information about course corrections or whatever, I’d also love very much to hear about it. I hope to start compiling information about not only the bypass course but the entire route to have a resource for English speakers about the trail.

Quick license note: everything published on my site including these GPX tracks are copyright me, and licensed as CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted, and I’d *really* love to hear if you use any of this to assist with planning or execution of your own hike!

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