Lake Shikotsu, located south of Sapporo in Hokkaido, japan, is a picturesque destination that offers a wide range of outdoor activities and natural attractions throughout the year. Whether you are a camper, cyclist, kayaker, or simply someone who enjoys breathtaking views and serene surroundings, Lake Shikotsu has something to offer for everyone.
One of the main highlights of visiting Lake Shikotsu is the opportunity to camp and cook out by the lake. The area is home to two well-appointed campsites, Morappu and Bifue, which are situated on the southern and western sides of the lake. These campsites provide a perfect setting for setting up your tent and enjoying the stillness of the lake and the sounds of nature at night. The sunsets and sunrises at Lake Shikotsu are truly stunning, creating a magical atmosphere that will leave you in awe.
For those visiting during the winter months, the ice village at Shikotsu Kohan is a must-see attraction. The Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival takes place annually from the end of January to the middle of February and offers a unique experience for visitors. The festival features sculptures and various structures made by spraying water from the lake over frames. As the sun sets, the event is illuminated with colorful lights, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as ice skating and sliding down ice slides. Afterward, you can warm up in one of the nearby hot spring hotels, which offer a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Speaking of hot springs, Lake Shikotsu is also known for its onsen. On the northern and eastern sides of the lake, there are a number of hot spring hotels that offer outdoor onsen baths right next to the lake. Relaxing in these open-air baths while enjoying the beautiful lake views is a highlight of any visit to Lake Shikotsu. The hotels in the area often provide package deals that include meals, allowing visitors to indulge in delicious local cuisine while unwinding in the soothing hot springs. It is important to note that some hotels have specific bath times for visitors who are not staying at the hotel, so it is advisable to check beforehand.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Lake Shikotsu offers plenty of opportunities for cycling and hiking. The lake has become a popular destination for cycling tours and day trips, with many towns nearby. The hills surrounding the lake provide a challenging yet rewarding cycling experience, with routes that lead to Sapporo and Niseko. If you prefer a more leisurely ride, there are also well-maintained cycle roads that are safe and away from traffic. These cycle roads lead to Chitose and Tomakomai, offering a scenic and enjoyable ride for cyclists of all levels.
If hiking is more your style, there are several peaks surrounding Lake Shikotsu that are worth exploring. One of the easier hikes is Mt. Tarumae, known for its lava dome and stunning views of the area. Another option is Mt. Monbetsu, which can be extended to include a hike to Mt. Fuppushi. For a slightly more challenging climb, you can tackle Mount Eniwa on the northern side of the lake. Although the climb may be steeper, the panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings make it all worthwhile.
For bird enthusiasts, the Lake Shikotsu area offers excellent opportunities for bird-watching. The Shikotsu Wild Bird Nature Path, located on the east side of the lake near Shikotsu Kohan, is a popular spot for observing a variety of bird species. The path winds near the lake and up the small Mount Kimunmorappu, providing a peaceful and serene environment for bird-watching. On your way back to Chitose, be sure to check out the bird-watching-themed cafes, where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee while surrounded by nature.
In addition to land-based activities, Lake Shikotsu also offers opportunities to take to the water. Boat tours are available from the hotel side of the lake, providing a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape. Whether you prefer a guided cruise or want to pedal around in a swan-boat, you’re sure to have a memorable experience on the lake. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding have also gained popularity in recent years, although equipment rentals are not available at the lake itself. Visitors can rent equipment from outdoor specialists in Sapporo or Niseko, ensuring a safe and enjoyable water adventure.
Overall, Lake Shikotsu is a hidden gem in Hokkaido that offers a wide range of outdoor activities and natural beauty throughout the year. From camping and hiking to cycling and bird-watching, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this all-season outdoor sports haven. Whether you are seeking adventure or simply a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Lake Shikotsu provides the perfect setting for relaxation, exploration, and connection with nature. So, pack your bags, embrace the beauty of Lake Shikotsu, and create unforgettable memories in this enchanting destination.
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