For the past few years I’ve enjoyed the spectacular autumn leaves in Tokyo by exploring the city’s many pristine parks but for the prior season I decided to head out of the metropolis to Okutama (奥多摩), a mountainous region located west along the Tama River.
Departing from Okutama Station (奥多摩駅), I followed the 10km Mukashi-michi (むかしみち) trail (meaning “old road”) heading towards Lake Okutama (奥多摩湖). The path is paved most of the way and is fairly easy-going with only a couple of steep sections at the beginning and end.
Walking downhill away from the station, you reach a crossroads with an information centre on the left where you can pick up a free route map. To reach the trailhead be sure to cross the bridge running parallel to the Tama River (not over it).
The first section of the trail runs alongside a disused railway track which was originally used to transport materials to build Ogouchi Dam (小河内ダム). I’d love to come back and explore this in more detail!
A small shrine is inset into the side of the road. The figure on the left looks a bit bored.
At various spots the view opens up, providing beautiful views over the valley and the river below.
The trail passes a number of old pastoral villages. Before the main road was built in 1945 there were many more tea houses and lodges to accommodate travellers. I especially liked this house with its neat piles of logs.
It was late November but I couldn’t quite work out if I’d missed the best of the autumn leaves or if I was a touch early.
More great views of the Tamagawa gorge from the very wobbly Shidaraku suspension bridge.
After hiking for almost four hours the enormous Ogōchi Dam and Lake Okutama come into view. With a 45km circumference, it would take a few days to walk around. Nearby is a visitor centre from where a frequent bus can be caught back to Okutama Station.