Ena-san (2190 m)


The Hike


35.42°N/137.26°E, Chuo Alps, Gifu-ken/Nagano-ken, Central Honshu

The Trail

Landslide Parking (900m) - 50 min -Kurozawa Trailhead (1175 m) - 20 min - 1st Hut (1365 m) - 50 min - Nogumanoike (1700 m) - 40 min - 2000 m Hill - 45 min - Ena-san Goya (2170 m) - 5 min - Ena-san (2190 m)

The Hike

General Information Ena-san is the pyramid-shaped peak towering over Nakatsugawa in Gifu-ken. One of the longest highway tunnels in Japan (8.4 km) cuts through Ena-san. Coming from Nagoya it is one of the most accessible hikes of the region - it only takes an hour and a half by car to get there: Chuo Expressway to Nakatsugawa, then Rt. 19 north and after 2 km right onto Rt. 363. After 6 km left over the small bridge. Follow the signs for another 6 km up the Nakatsu Rv.
Hiking in the Spring In March 1998 I succeeded on the second approach. The first time I went with my 8-year old son; we got stuck in soft snow and turned back at about 1800 m. The second time, one week later, snow conditions were perfect and going up a breeze - I didn't even need snowshoes or crampons.
Approach Hike There used to be a dirt road all the way to the Kurozawa trailhead, but in 1997 a landslide blocked the last 4.4 km. It takes about 50 minutes to cover this section. Crossing the landslide is not recommended for small children since the sand is not stable and sliding over the edge would result in a 50 m fall. The dirt road follows the right bank of the river and crosses several side streams. There a several freshwater springs along the road. Eventually one gets to the gate and information board at Kurozawa.
To the 1st Hut After crosssing the gate the trail follows the Kurozawa Creek up. The first kilometer is in fact a rough dirt road and would be negotiable by mountain bike. Eventually I got to a sign which said 2.5 km to the Nogumanoike Pond, 5.8 km to the summit of Ena-san. I crossed the creek on some wooden planks and followed the trail through mixed forest. Very soon I arrived at the first hut which is in a state of disrepair and doesn't seem to be used anymore.
To Nogumanoike Pond The trail follws the creek for another kilometer, then turns right and goes steeply up for about a hundred meters. At about 1500 m above sea level I hit the snow. Compared to the conditions only a week before the snow was surprisingly firm and my boots gripped well. This time it was easy to follow the tracks left by other hikers and I reached the little pond of Nogumanoike at 8:50 AM. There is a nice little hut a hundred meters from the pond which would make a pleasant overnight spot.
Go to the top
To the 2000 m Hill After a ten-minute break I continued my climb. The next section was comparatively flat through evergreen forest. At 9:30 AM I reached the plateau where I had turned back the previous week. It was sunny but visibility wasn't clear, so I could hardly distinguish the chain of the Minami Alps in the mist. Today I was the only one up here and I enjoyed the solitude very much. The trail turned up and left to a minor summit of about 2000 m. From here the peak of Ena-san was clearly visible.
Final Approach The trail gently descended for about 30 meters crossing the col between the 2000 m hill and Ena-san. Soon I was in deep evergreen forest. The going was sometimes difficult because my ice axe got caught in overhanging branches.The tracks in the snow were a little uneven, sometimes there were holes over a meter deep. The trail climbs the left side of the mountain and goes around it. After about 30 minutes I passed a Water sign, but of course the spring was covered under deep snow. Twenty minutes later I reached the Ena-san Hut at 2170 m. It is located on a small plateau, a group of rocks gives a picturesque backdrop. The hut is unmanned and has space for maybe 10 hikers. There is even a wood stove in there. From the hut it took only five more minutes to the summit which I reached at 10:40 AM.
The Summit The summit of Ena-san is not very impressive: flat and no views since there are lots of fir trees. A small Shinto shrine is located here, its roof the only spot free of snow. I sat down and had an early lunch, the sun was so warm that I didn't even need a jacket.
The Descent Going down was easy and I took my time. Even though it was a Sunday there were very few people out: I met only four other hikers all day long. At 2:00 PM I was back at the trail head, from here it was another tiring 50 minutes along the dirt road back to the car.
Go to the top

Latest info (October 1998): The landslide has been cleared, it is now possible to drive all the way to the Kurozawa Trailhead


Chubu Map