1. Yoshida trail
The Yoshida trail is Mount Fuji’s most popular and well-established route. With different paths for the ascent and descent, you’ll spend your entire hike being awed by the views of the landscape from Japan’s highest point. The Yoshida trail offers the most facilities and the clearest trail markers, making it easier for less experienced hikers to make it to the summit. This trail also boasts some gorgeous wildflowers and a charming shrine you can pay a visit to along the way.
- Distance/ duration: 13 km round trip if you begin as most climbers do, at the 5th station. The ascent takes between five to seven hours and the descent takes between three to five hours.
- Difficulty level: Moderate. While this hike has easy access to amenities, shops, and medical attention, it will still require you to navigate steep rocky sections in the ascent and difficult gravelly slopes on the way down.
2. Gotemba trail
Of all Mount Fuji trails, the Gotemba trail offers you the least crowded trek up the mountain, though there is a reason for this. The Gotemba trail takes the longest route with the highest elevation change and is very sparse in amenities along the way. In exchange for the long walk, you’ll get to see the volcanic sands change from black to red and snag a great view of Lake Yamanaka! One of the highlights of this trail is the sunabashiri, or the great sand run, when the descending path separates and sends you running down the volcanic sand slope.
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- Distance/ duration: 19.5 km round trip. The ascent takes between seven to ten hours including 2,350 meters of climb and the descent takes between three to five hours.
- Difficulty level: Moderate. While the trail itself is not absurdly challenging, it’s a long hike with few amenities along the way.
3. Fujinomiya trail
If you want a Mount Fuji hike that’s hard and fast, the Fujinomiya trail is the shortest ascent. It starts the furthest up the mountain and is only 3.6 kilometers to the summit, but it will challenge you all the way, from the steep ascent to the sunabashiri on the way down. This trail is shared between climbers ascending and descending, making it harder to take a wrong turn, but you’ll also need to watch out for hikers going the opposite direction. If you’re coming from western Japan, the Fujinomiya trail is the most accessible trail to get to.
- Distance/ duration: 7.6 km round trip. You will need approximately five hours for the ascent and three for the descent.
- Difficulty level: Moderate. This trail is generally quite steep and rocky, but rental equipment is available and facilities are easily accessible.
4. Subashiri trail
The Subashiri trail offers hikers some of the best views on the mountain! If you’re dreaming of climbing Mount Fuji at sunrise, this whole trail faces eastward, so you’ll get some incredible views along the way. Enjoy shaded forest walking for the first half of the hike before you emerge from the woods to take in some incredible views. This trail merges with the Yoshida trail for the last push to the summit, so it can get a bit crowded, but on your way down you can run down the volcanic sand!
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- Distance/ duration: 11.7 km round trip. The ascent takes approximately five to seven hours and the descent typically takes between three to five hours.
- Difficulty level: Moderate. The ascent combines with the Yoshida trail, which gets a little tricky and pretty crowded. Also, the sunabashiri can be tough on the joints. Make sure to bring a headlamp if you’re climbing in the later hours as visibility in the forest can be quite limited.