One of the best ways of exploring the idyllic countryside of Niseko is on two wheels – just slap on some sunscreen, pop on some shades, pack some lunch and jump on your bicycle!
For the casual rider, travelling through cool woods, open fields and alongside the winding Shiribetsu River with the breeze on your face as you pedal along the easy roads and cruisy tracks is a perfect way to spend a relaxing day outdoors – the terrain can be variable but not too challenging.
Sticking to the roads guarantees smooth sailing with plenty of rest stops along the way – from delicious home-made tofu and ice cream to conventional conbini stops with familiar refreshments.
A popular route for anyone feeling ambitious with a few hours to spare is to circle Yotei by road. The uphill areas can prove a little tiring for the uninitiated but just when you think you might give up – suddenly you’re over the top of the hump and it’s a downhill rush with the refreshing wind blowing in your face. The photo opportunities along this route are innumerable – with vast sunflower fields, rolling green hills, fresh springs, lush woods and traditional buildings to see every few hundred meters.
When travelling this route be sure to stop by Makkari Village and experience the tofu factory for an unforgettable soy snack and access to refreshing spring water to top up your water bottle. Further along, you will find Kyogoku and Fukidashi Park – another famous source of fresh spring water among locals and travellers alike… plus they have ice cream!
For easy riding stick to the Kutchan side of Mt. Yotei – the terrain is consistently flat with wide fields – there’s even a paved track along the Shiribetsu River making the opportunity for a dip in the water too easy to pass on!
For those with a bit more of an adventurous nature, it’s best to pack some food and water and go off-road! There are hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads and tracks winding all through the Niseko region – you’re guaranteed to experience some truly unblemished, natural beauty as you cruise through the woods and along the banks of creeks and rivers. These dirt roads undulate through rolling terrain, thick with cool forests and wildlife. Keep some insect repellant close for when you stop to snack but keep your camera closer – stunning scenic photos can be snapped left right and centre plus the opportunity for a fantastic wildlife shot could be scampering across the track at any moment!
For visitors to the area there is a great, free bike service called the Niseko Green Bike Project – during the summer months, they offer free bicycle hire to people who register at any of their offices throughout the region.
Alternatively, high-quality bicycles are available to hire from Rythm Cycles and Groove Cycles in Hirafu village.
Photo by Glen Claydon