Mt. Kiso-komagatake (木曽駒ヶ岳)

This blog post was written back in 2008. For the latest information about this hike (including color photos and maps), please consider purchasing my guidebook to the Japan Alps. 

Clocking in just a few meters under 3000, Mt. Kiso-komagatake is the highest peak in the Central Alps mountain range. The panoramic views are outstanding, and there’s no shortage of accommodation on top.

Mt. Kiso-komagatake

The hike: From the top of the gondola, follow the trail leading off toward the right. You’ll already be above the tree line, so just follow the paint marks up through the rock formations. After about a half an hour of climbing, you’ll reach the ridgeline and a 3-way junction with a mountain hut in front. This is the Hoken-sanso (宝剣山荘), a great place to get a coffee if the cloud is in. Climb up past another hut to the top of Naka-dake (中岳) and then down the other side to a saddle and a blue-roof hut. From there, it’s a short climb to the summit of Komagatake, where the views are incredible. If you’ve got time, then consider staying in one of the huts to catch the sunrise/sunset. Anyway, retrace your steps to Hokensanso, and either take the trail back down to the gondola, or traverse up and over Mt. Hoken (宝剣岳). This trail is marked as an “expert” course, but it’s no more difficult than some of the climbs around Kamikochi. There are plenty of chains, ladders, and paint marks to help you get to the top. Traverse up and over this rocky peak and down the other side, where you’ll find a trail coming in the left. This is the way back down to the gondola. Alternatively, you could keep going straight and make it to Mt. Usugi in about 5 hours or so.

When to go: This hike can be done any time of year, thanks in part to the gondola that runs all year round. Bring crampons and an ice axe in the winter and be careful of white out conditions. The gondola gets extremely crowded when the leaves have changed colors in the autumn, so be prepared for a long wait. Click here to access the gondola website in English.

Access: From Okaya station (岡谷駅) in Nagano Pref. take the JR Iida line (JR飯田線) and get off at Komagane Station (駒ヶ根駅). The local train takes about an hour. From there, take a bus bound for Shirabi-daira (しらび平) and get off at the last stop. Click here for the bus schedule. If you don’t fancy waiting in line for the gondola or would like a more strenuous climb, then get off on stop before at Kitagosho-tozanguchi (北御所登山口). From there, you can climb to the summit in about 6 hours or so. Be careful if approaching this hike from Nagoya, because the JR Iida line from Toyohashi station takes over 5-1/2 hours to get to Komagane! It’s much faster to take the JR Chuo line and change at Shiojiri.


Live web cam: Click here

Level of difficulty: 1 out of 5 if using the gondola (elevation change ~300m)

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18 Comments on “Mt. Kiso-komagatake (木曽駒ヶ岳)”

  1. Paul Says:

    If coming from Nagoya, forget about the Chuo line and just take the highway bus. Less than half the cost and slightly faster (depending on traffic).

  2. Marc Says:

    Do you think in late May hike can be difficult? I mean, my purpose is just go up hikking because I won’t have my equipment (it weights too much to carry to Japan).

    • wes Says:


      Do you have experience with hiking in the snow? There will still be a lot of snow in late May, but the climb to the peak is not technical. Light crampons and an ice axe will be useful in case you slide on the snow. Of course I’ve also done hikes in late May in the Alps without either, so it really depends on the weather.

      There’s a hotel at the top of the gondola. I’m not sure if they rent equipment or not, but they will definitely be able to tell you about the snow conditions.

      You could always try the hike and turn back if you become uncomfortable. The top of the gondola has amazing views and you can enjoy the alpine scenery.

  3. Gareth Says:

    Do you know if there is a route up the west side of Kiso-Komagatake?

    • wes Says:

      There are actually 4 different routes up the western side of Kiso-Koma. The most popular of which is accessible by bus from Kiso-fukushima station. Take a bus and get off at Ohara station. From there it’s an 8-1/2 slog to the summit. There’s one more route just south of this that meets up with the main route at the 7th stagepoint.

      Further south, near Agematsu station, there are two additional routes. I’m not sure of the condition of those trails since I haven’t been up from the west, though my friend Chris did one of those routes in the winter

  4. ines Says:

    We are going there mid October. We are searching a hut… but we find no information about that (price, avaibility… ). Could you help us?

  5. David Elliott Says:

    Can anyone offer advice on how to get here from Nagoya airport?

  6. tokyoaaron Says:

    Great post, wes! Headed to Senjojiki Cirque in a couple of days for some mild-to-moderate hikes and — hopefully! — some koyo autumn colours photography.

    Thanks for the read.

  7. Chris Viney Says:

    Great post, thank you, excellent information.
    Can anyone give advice about via ferrata routes on Mt Hoken – or elsewhere in Japan please?

  8. Chris Says:

    Are the mountain huts open in December? I know the hotel at the top of the gondola is.

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