Maetake (前嵩)

Maetake is a pointy peak overlooking Kabira bay in the northwestern part of Ishigaki Island. It’s a good chance to see some jungle scenery without much effort and can be combined with a visit to nearby Kabira park.

The hike: If coming from Kabira, go past Yon bus stop on the main road and turn right when you see the blue billboard that says 島料理あたん亭 on the left side of the road. You’ll see a paved road with a chain across it just opposite this sign. Park your car or bicycle here, climb over the chain, and walk straight on the road. After about 10 meters you’ll see the ruins of an old building on your right, so keep walking straight and soon the road will start to narrow considerably and turn into a trail. Ignore the paved road on your right just before you enter the forest. After about 5 minutes, you’ll cross a log bridge (basically a tree that’s been cut in half and laid across a small stream). About 10 meters after crossing this log, the path will split, and you’ll see an old wooden sign propped up against an electrical pole. Turn right here and follow the path that goes next to the stream. The trail is easy to follow and crosses the stream a couple of times before climbing up to the ridge. It should take about 25 minutes of relatively easy climbing before reaching the ridge, where the path takes a sharp turn to the left and flattens out. Just where the path turns you’ll see a faint trail on your right which leads to the summit of Maetake. It’s pretty easy to miss, so if you soon arrive at an NHK antenna then you know you’ve gone too far. This narrow, slightly overgrown path climbs straight up the spine towards the summit and is incredibly slippery and muddy in wet weather. After 20 meters the path will appear to split, but if you look up and towards your right you’ll see a medium-sized boulder. Head up to the rock and just beyond you’ll see a rope dangling from a tree. Use this rope to help you climb up to the summit plateau, which is covered with 2-1/2 meter-high bamboo grass. You’ll literally need to swim through this mountain of grass to reach the top, but it’ll only take a few minutes. Once you reach the high point there are a couple of rocks you can stand on to get a view over the undergrowth. You’ll see Kabira peninsula stretched out before you, with Sukuji beach directly below. To your right you can see the rest of Kabira bay, with Mt. Omoto and Mt. Nosoko stretching out beyond. After you have admired the views, retrace your steps back to the junction and continue on the ridge to the NHK antenna. There are some good views between the trees, and the concrete makes a good place to take a break and eat some snacks. If you continue on this trail another 50 meters or so, you’ll reach another building housing a TV antenna. If you walk behind the building you can get great views of Kabira bay, which are unfortunately framed by power lines! All in all it should take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to reach the summit, which makes it a great afternoon or late morning hike.

When to go: This hike can easily be done year round, but bring plenty of water if hiking in the hot summer.

Access: The hike is a 2km walk from Kabira bay. If you’re staying at Iriwa Guesthouse in Kabira, then you can borrow their bicycle to get to the hike. Otherwise, the closest bus stop is called Yon (ヨーン) Buses bound for Kabira stop here, so just tell the driver you want to get off at Yon. Click here for the bus schedule.

Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change ~200m)

Distance: 4km (1-1/2 to 3 hours)

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