Iide mountain range – long and deep traverse route

On October 2-4, 2021, we traversed the Iide mountain range in the peak season of autumn foliage!

Introduction to the Iide mountain range

The Iide mountain range is a vast mountain massif spanning Fukushima, Yamagata, and Niigata prefectures and extending 20 km from north to south. The main peaks are Mount Dainichi, Mount Iide, Mount Kairagi, Mount Eboshi, Mount Onishi, and Mount Kitamata.

Every year in early October, the autumn foliage is at its peak, and visitors can enjoy walking along the long ridge in red and yellow colors. (In addition, the autumn foliage in 2021 is expected to be about one week earlier than usual.)

There are many mountain huts in the mountains of the Iide mountain range, but most of them are refuge huts, so you will need to bring your own food and bedding, which increases the difficulty level of the climb.

On the other hand, water is plentiful, so there is little need to worry about drinking water. For more information on water information in Mount Iide, please visit this website.

Route Details

The routes presented in this article are described below.

[Day 1] Nakatsu-Kawaguchi (Dainichisugi Hut) → Mt. Jizo → Kiriawase hut (course time: 7 hours)
[Day 2] Kiriawase hut → Motoyama hut → Mount Iide → Mount Onishi → Mount Eboshi → Kairagi hut (course time: 8 hours)
[Day 3] Kairagi hut → Mount Kitamata → Mount Monnai→ Mount Jigami → Marumori ridge → Iide hut(course time :8 hours)

The details of this route are described in Obunsha’s “Yama to Kogen Chizu Mount Iide, Mount Ebirizashi, Mount Ninouji (Yama to Kogen Chizu 10)“. Climbing without a map is dangerous. Be sure to bring a map with you when you enter the mountain.

the night before climbing a mountain

The date and time is the evening of the day before the climb (October 1). We board the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station.

Two hours on the Shinkansen, we arrived at Yonezawa Station.

We have pre-booked Rental cars in front of Yonezawa Station will be picked up. Car rental stores around Yonezawa Station do not open for business until around 8:00 AM. By renting a car the night before, we can start climbing early the next morning.

Since we have come all the way to Yonezawa, we decided to eat Yonezawa beef. For only a few thousand yen, we can eat a dish that would cost several tens of thousands of yen in Tokyo. Yonezawa beef is very tender and delicious. I’ve been eating so much sweet food lately that I think I’m going to end up with pork instead of beef…

Start climbing from Dainichi-sugi and climb up to Mount Jizo.

The date and time has moved, it is 7:30 a.m. on October 2. I drove a little over an hour from Yonezawa Station and came to the Dainichidake trailhead in a rented car. I think there are about 2 to 30 cars available for parking. (Parking fee is free).

From here, we will traverse the Iide mountain range for three days and two nights before descending to Iide hut. We asked Oguni taxi to take our rental car to Iide mountain lodge, Iide hut by Oguni Taxi in advance. The fare is ¥26,000. Incidentally, the distance from the trailheads of Kawairi and Yaheishiro to Iide hut is long, so it is not possible to ask the taxi to take the rental car to Iide hut.

Public restrooms are located on the first floor of the triangular-roofed building at the trailhead.

Start climbing!

The temple is called Dainichi-sugi, which means “Dainichi cedar,” and there are many giant cedar trees. The original Dainichi-sugi tree was cut down several decades ago, and its stump is now gone.

There is a steep slope of several dozen meters. However, it is easy to climb because of the rock holds and chains.

We met a junction with Chonosuke clear water. Go left to replenish your water supply. This time, go right.

We continue on a well-maintained trail.

It is a big cedar. I wonder if the original Dainichi-sugi was even larger.

As we gained elevation, the foliage gradually increased.

We arrived at Jizo-dake (1,538 meters above sea level)!

Mearai clear water

The clouds that covered the sky are slowly clearing. The weather is forecast to improve.

We arrived at Mearai clear water!

Straight ahead is the regular trail. Go left to reach the Mearai clear water.

The path to Mearai clear water takes less than 10 minutes round trip, and the path is rough. For example, it descends a steep slope with grass, as shown above, and

For example, we go down a steep slope of rock with no holds, like the one above. It is very slippery and dangerous. It is safer to prepare water well in advance of climbing and not to stop at Mearai clear water.

The water is at the end of the area where the white flowers are blooming.

Water is coming out of the hose. The amount of water is neither too much nor too little; I think it takes about a minute to get a liter of water. It tastes good.

By the way, a branch splashed down around here and hit me in the eye. Does it mean I should wash my eyes? ….

Click here for information on Mearai clear water watering holes.

To Kiriawase hut

We set out for Kiriawase hut, our campsite for the first day.

Autumn leaves in the direction of travel and

Autumn leaves overhead. And

Autumn leaves on the side of the trail. Bargain sale of autumn leaves.

We have arrived at the Misawa branching road. In the snow-free season, go left. The route to the right is only passable when there is still snow on the ground. It is dangerous to go there in this season.

We went left from the Misawa branching road. It is a safe trail.

Beautiful autumn leaves. Words are no longer necessary.

Let’s go see the autumn leaves.

We cross the stream.

You can fetch drinking water from the stream here. Of course, there is no danger involved in fetching water. We recommend that you use this stream to fetch water rather than Mearai clear water.

The trail is surrounded by autumn leaves.

We continued on the traversing trail. Kiriawase hut is just around the corner.

It is a wide and pleasant walk along the ridge.

We caught sight of Kiriawase hut!

At Kiriawase hut

We arrived at Kiriawase hut. Staying in a tent costs 1,000 yen per person.
By the way, it seems to be 7,000-8,000 yen for a hut stay. Click here for information on huts in Mount Iide.

Behind the Kiriawase hut is a tent site. I think there are about 30 tents available. This time, due to the bad weather from Saturday to Sunday around noon, it was not full.

At Kiriawase hut, you can fetch water right in front of the hut. In many places in the Iide mountain range, you have to walk more than 10 minutes round trip from the hut to get water, so this proximity to the water station is very much appreciated. However, not only Kiriawase huts, but also some water stations near the huts are removed after the caretaker leaves the mountain after mid to late October, and water is no longer available. Be careful.

Rules for the use of the water area.

Food and drink can be purchased at the hut. By the way, beer and highballs were sold out quickly. If you want one, be quick….

The toilets in Kiriawase hut are western style and very clean.

This is the direction of Mount Iide, which we will climb tomorrow.

A rainbow appears from Kiriawase hut. Expectations for tomorrow are high.

The next day, we will finally reach Mount Iide, the main peak of the Iide mountain range.


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