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Hiking in Saga: Mt. Kurokami

518m, 90 minutes to the top

· Hiking,Saga,Onsen

The arguments in favour of climing Mt. Kurokami are many. Despite a 2+ hour drive from Fukuoka City, the drive is a nice one, and there are some picturesque small towns and nice onsen on the way. The hike isn't a long one, but it's plenty steep near the top, and even boasts several scary-looking metal rungs which are presumably meant to assist climbers on their ascents and descents. The trails are well-kept, with just the bare minimum of signage, ensuring that you don't get too comfortable in your choice of route until it's clear that you're near the top. There are enough fellow hikers that you won't, however, despair of being forever lost in the woods. And the views from the top. Well, those are great.

The Drive

The most direct route from Fukuoka City is along Rt 202, turning south just before Karatsu, and passing through Imari before heading up to the Ryumon Dam. On the way back, I definitely recommend a stop in Imari for a pick-me-up at riverside Lib Coffee. They have excellent smoothies, juices, coffee, sweets, and paninis. For a post-hike soak, Hakuji Onsen (¥700 adults) is a convenient choice in Imari.

The Hike

From the Ryumon Dam parking area, take the trail on your right-hand side as you face the mountain. The lower trails are unmarked, so as you're heading up along the river, make sure to take the path with the small bridge across the river, and not the stone steps leading away from the water. From here, there will be signs at each junction.

When you get higher up the mountain, there will be a choice between taking Ushiro no Taira or the Mikaeri Pass. Mikaeri leads to two different summits (keep to the right for Kurokami) and has more metal hand- and footholds on it's steep sides, while Ushiro no Taira offers the more straightforward route. However, both are roughly the same distance.

The hike up should take about 75-90 minutes from parking area to summit. Just one last ropeway to climb up before you're at the top!

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