The full length is about 15k and the main purpose of the trail, in addition to getting out there and run, was threefold: check out the Takayama Castle ruins which I had seen signs of on a few occasions before; second, see if I could find a trail connecting it to the Hoshida Buranko (suspension) bridge for a possible H3 trail; finally see what the trail was from Kisaichi stn. to the Hoshida bridge to see if I could bring my little ones there (turns out the in-trail is as hard as taking the bus to Iwafune Shrine and then climbing up, so that's probably the best alternative for families wishing to go to the bridge, assuming you're using public transport).
Well, basically, I knew the trail almost all the way to the castle, though as you can see below, I was carrying my dSLR, so I did stop more than usual to capture some decent pics. I got spit on by the clouds a little closing on Kurondo pond (which you could go to with genki young kids on foot, though you could take a bus to the pond and walk back as well), but I definitely got more sun than rain on trail. As it was a weekday, the trails and sights were quite deserted, though the Hoshida area had a few more people.
|Step aside the trail a little nearing Tsukinowa fall (月の輪滝)|
|The fall just below...|
|Tsukinowa Fall: this one is easily accessible by a little bridge and path|
|Nature center and toilet about 2/3 - 3/4 the way to Kurondo pond.|
As you can see from the pics below, the way to Takayama Castle was a standard but always beautiful bamboo forest trail; they never get old. But along the way, no stone wall, no wells, and at the top... not much. There were some monuments, but nothing else. It was a little disappointing, but oh well, at least the nobles got what they deserved I suppose. Power to the people.
|You can get on pedal boats, buy some meal & snacks, or even BBQ (with their kit in season).|
|Follow the signs at first for the garden, then the castle (though the reddish sign at the bottom is for the castle). This post is from the opposite corner of Kurondo Pond when you arrive to it.|
|Gotta love bamboo groves.|
|Those aren't ruins; they were recently built!!|
Google map helped me from that point to find a trail. I had trails going and almost joining after, and I figured there'd be a way to connect the trails. What I didn't expect there was an actual trail, following the high-power lines above. I realized then that pretty much everywhere in Japan there must trails following those power lines, something that might come in useful on future H3 runs!
The trail ended up crossing an overgrown road going to some kind of development. Was it a quarry? A failed housing development? Who knows. I'd like to go around there again and explore to learn more about it. It would make a great location for filming or shooting stills, and I'd love to learn what happened there.
After milling around a bit, I ended up in a small village that was just so quaint and beautiful. The kind of places that you won't find in any guidebooks, but that are just so essentially Japanese. The trail there was fun and the village will have me going back.
|Maybe my favorite capture of the trail.|
|An orange would have felt good at that point in the trail!|
|42: the answer to life, the universe and everything.|
After running across a river from a busy road I arrived at Iwafune Shrine, known as the rock cave shrine. For fee, you get to crawl through rocks to little shrines in the middle of rocks standing atop of each other like a natural Jenga game. I had been there yeeeaaars ago with my wife, and it was as good as I remembered it. There is a bus going there from Katanoshi Stn., but it only runs on weekends and holidays at 10:30 and 16:00, and the later one would get you there after opening hours. With elementary school kids and maybe genki younger ones, the trail from here to the end is possible, especially considering that the opposite way isn't easier by any means.
|Entrance of Iwafune Shrine|
|Stairway down to...|
|I don't know of any other shrines like it in Japan.|
From the shrine up to the buranko bridge is a long uphill, pretty steep at first. It is all paved and/or at least well-maintained. Before the uphill, there is a little shrine with a waterfall for devotees wishing to meditate under cold waters. I suppose in summer it would feel nice!
|Uh, maybe in summer...|
Though arduous, the trail up to the bridge isn't too long and there are many signs along the way to confirm you are on the right track (actually, just go straight...). There are rest areas and toilets along the way too, making sure everyone is ok.
The bridge itself is pretty spectacular. At the highest, you are 50 meters above ground and depending on the weather, time of day and season, the view can be pretty spectacular. Since it is a suspension bridge, it does sway a little, so people with fear of heights might not enjoy it too much. Take your time to get your selfies and family shots, because from there, it all goes downhill, well, at least vertically speaking.
|Must be awesome in fall!|
|I'm too sexy for... For? Anyone?|
Soon after the bridge you will find a staircase going down the slope. It is fairly steep, and after passing under the bridge you will hit a service road leading to a park center and and serious climbing wall. I don't know what the system is for climbers, I suppose you have to either pay an access fee and/or belong to club of some sort.
|Under the bridge downtown...|
|Get up, get on up!|
From there, follow the trail to Kisaichi stn. At first you'll go on a "railway trail", that is just an elevated boardwalk. After passing the paying parking, the trail will go up a little before settling on an easy course down, passing some cottages before hitting the road back to the station.
Before getting on the train, make sure to stop by the local convenient store just outside the station to grab something to eat or drink, including some excellent local sake from the brewery where Philip Harper learned the craft. There are also a couple of cafes/restaurants around, as well as an outdoor gear shop.
|Seriously, stop by Espoa store for some local sake, it is very good!|