Planning a hike in Shikoku? Here are the best Shikoku hiking trails. Check it out below!
Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
This picturesque region is renowned for its captivating hiking trails that wind through lush forests, serene mountains, and quaint rural landscapes.
Embarking on a hiking adventure in Shikoku allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty, experience its rich cultural heritage, and discover hidden treasures along the way.
Let’s delve into the enchanting world of Shikoku’s hiking trails.
Shikoku Hiking Trails
The Shikoku Pilgrimage (Henro)
One of the most famous and spiritually significant hiking trails in Shikoku is the Shikoku Pilgrimage, also known as the Henro.
This ancient trail covers approximately 1,200 kilometers and connects 88 Buddhist temples.
Each year, thousands of pilgrims embark on this journey to seek spiritual enlightenment and explore the island’s stunning landscapes.
While completing the entire pilgrimage requires several weeks, visitors can choose specific sections or temples to visit, enjoying breathtaking scenery and encountering local traditions and hospitality.
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Rising majestically as the highest peak in western Japan, Mt. Ishizuchi offers a challenging yet rewarding hiking experience.
Located in Ehime Prefecture, this iconic mountain is considered one of the “Three Sacred Mountains” of Japan.
The trail to the summit is well-maintained, with various routes catering to different skill levels.
As you ascend, you’ll witness panoramic views, awe-inspiring rock formations, and vibrant alpine flora.
Reaching the summit grants a sense of accomplishment and provides an unforgettable vista.
Nestled in the heart of Tokushima Prefecture, the Iya Valley is a hidden paradise for nature enthusiasts. Its verdant landscapes, deep gorges, and pristine rivers create a captivating backdrop for hiking.
The region offers a plethora of trails catering to all levels of experience, from leisurely strolls along the vine bridges to more challenging treks through rugged terrains.
Be sure to explore the mystical Kazura Bridge, a traditional vine suspension bridge that adds a touch of charm to the hiking experience.
Located at the southernmost tip of Shikoku, Cape Ashizuri boasts spectacular coastal scenery and dramatic cliffs. The hiking trails around this region offer a unique blend of ocean vistas, rugged terrain, and lush greenery.
The Cape Ashizuri Lighthouse, standing tall on a rocky outcrop, serves as a prominent landmark and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Hikers can also explore nearby attractions, including the enchanting Kongofukuji Temple and the relaxing Ashizuri Onsen.
For adventure seekers, a hike up Mt. Tsurugi in Tokushima Prefecture provides an exhilarating experience. Referred to as the “Sword of Shikoku,” this mountain offers challenging trails that test hikers’ stamina and determination. The reward, however, is well worth the effort.
From the summit, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas of neighboring peaks, rolling clouds, and the distant sea.
Mt. Tsurugi is also a popular spot for rock climbing and offers opportunities for a multi-day trek along the Tsurugi-goe Trail.
Shikoku Nature Trail
The Shikoku Nature Trail is a long-distance hiking route that spans the entire circumference of the island, covering approximately 1,500 kilometers.
Divided into eight sections, this trail takes hikers through diverse landscapes, including mountains, rivers, forests, and coastal areas. It offers a comprehensive and immersive experience of Shikoku’s natural beauty.
Located in Tokushima City, Mt. Bizan offers a relatively easy hiking experience suitable for all skill levels.
A cable car is available for those who prefer a more leisurely ascent, but hiking to the summit allows you to enjoy panoramic views of the city, Seto Inland Sea, and the surrounding mountains.
Situated in Kagawa Prefecture, Mt. Awa-Katsuragi is a popular hiking spot known for its stunning views and seasonal beauty.
Hiking trails wind through lush forests, leading to the summit where hikers are rewarded with panoramic vistas of the Seto Inland Sea and neighboring islands. The mountain is particularly renowned for its vibrant cherry blossoms in spring.
Located in Kochi Prefecture, Mt. Miune offers a challenging and adventurous hiking experience. The trail to the summit is steep and requires stamina and proper equipment.
However, the rewarding views of untouched wilderness, rugged cliffs, and the vast Pacific Ocean make it a memorable and thrilling adventure for experienced hikers.
Shimanto River Valley
While not a traditional hiking trail, the Shimanto River Valley in Kochi Prefecture offers scenic opportunities for nature enthusiasts.
Walking along the riverbanks allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Japan’s last remaining free-flowing river.
Enjoy the serenity of the surrounding countryside, traditional rural landscapes, and perhaps even spot local wildlife.
Situated in Tokushima Prefecture, Mt. Ryuo is a prominent mountain known for its stunning views and diverse flora.
The hiking trail to the summit takes you through dense forests, meadows adorned with wildflowers, and rocky terrain. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Mt. Ryuo is particularly famous for its vibrant autumn foliage, making it an ideal destination for hikers seeking a picturesque and colorful experience.
Located in Tokushima Prefecture, the Oboke Gorge offers a unique hiking experience amidst captivating natural beauty. Hiking trails wind along the scenic Yoshino River, passing through rugged cliffs and verdant forests.
The gorge is known for its boat tours, which allow hikers to explore the river up close, immersing themselves in the stunning surroundings and dramatic rock formations.
The hiking trails in and around the Oboke Gorge offer a blend of adventure, serenity, and breathtaking views.
Situated in Ehime Prefecture, Cape Sada offers a captivating coastal hiking experience. The trail along the cape takes you through rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and picturesque fishing villages.
Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea, with its numerous islands dotting the horizon.
The area is also famous for its stunning sunsets, creating a magical ambiance for an evening hike.
Mt. Ishizuchi-Osugi Trail
For experienced hikers seeking a challenging and rewarding adventure, the Mt. Ishizuchi-Osugi Trail is a must-visit.
This demanding trail takes you through rocky terrains, dense forests, and steep ascents, offering a thrilling and immersive experience.
Along the way, you’ll encounter ancient cedar trees, beautiful waterfalls, and awe-inspiring vistas.
Reaching the summit rewards hikers with a sense of accomplishment and breathtaking views that extend as far as the eye can see.
Shosan-ji Temple Trail
Located in Kagawa Prefecture, the Shosan-ji Temple Trail combines cultural exploration with a scenic hiking experience.
The trail leads to Shosan-ji, one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in Shikoku. As you ascend, you’ll pass through serene forests and stone staircases, arriving at the temple complex nestled among towering cedar trees.
The trail not only offers spiritual rejuvenation but also stunning views of the surrounding valleys and the Seto Inland Sea.
Shikoku boasts a wide range of hiking trails that cater to different preferences and skill levels.
From the spiritual journey of the Shikoku Pilgrimage to the scenic beauty of mountains, gorges, and coastal areas, each trail offers its own unique charm and rewards.
Whether you seek adventure, cultural exploration, or tranquility, Shikoku’s hiking trails will leave you awe-inspired and connected with the island’s natural splendor.
Lace up your hiking boots, embrace the call of the trails, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the captivating landscapes of Shikoku.