The Beautiful, Scenic Hiking Trails of Sumo Alps, Hyogo
Surrounding Kobe city is the abundant mountain terrains of Rokko-san (Mount Rokko). There are many hiking trails available at Mount Rokko and some range from three to seven hours depending on difficulty level and speed (stamina).
One of the most recommended hiking trails is the Sumo Alps hike which is surrounded by a beautiful and scenic view of the sea and Kobe City from the mountains. This hike will take approximately three hours which is a great beginner experience in conquering Mount Rokko.
To hike the Sumo Alps at Mount Rokko, it is advisable to be in hiking gear or sportswear. Alternatively, walking shoes and jeans are alright but they may restrict movement while hiking. It isn’t very rare to be seen in neither sportswear nor hiking gears (I went with neither for my first hike), but as the terrain is sandy, it may get very slippery and is best to exercise caution at all times.
This hiking trail will start and end at different points, providing a different view of the city as you move along. The trail is kind of like a mini roller coaster with a mix of uphill and downhill hikes.
To start off this journey, please make your way to Sumaurokoen station and look for the direction going towards "Mount Hachibuse 鉢伏山". There will be quite a number of regulars hiking as well so, in case of doubt, follow the crowd.
The beginning path is scenic, and steps are provided here. As some of the steps can be wide, its best to be in clothing that allows lots of space to move around freely.
Next make your way towards "Mount Hatafuri 旗振山".
At the peak of Mount Hatafuri, stop by the coffee shop to take a breather and have a drink if needed. Soak in the view of the city. As this viewpoint is not really very high up in the mountains, the city still feels quite close to your fingertips.
Ring the bell twice (with 2 seconds interval in between) to make your wish come true!
As you progress onwards, the steps start getting smaller, narrower and sandier, so, please exercise caution. Make your way towards "Mount Tekkai鉄拐" and catch a glimpse of the city.
Moving downwards towards "Mount Togao 栂尾山" are these narrow stairs and a long walk across a bridge to an Aeon Mart.
Stop by to replenish on drinks and lunch boxes for the next hike up to Mount Togao. I do recommend getting lunch boxes here to savor once you reach the peak: what a great way to celebrate with a victorious view and meal altogether!
Continue straight on through the housing area onto Mount Togao. There are approximately 400 steps or more towards Mount Togao so do take your time to hike up (this was the part where my legs started giving way, it’s a lot of stairs!).
Enjoy your lunch at the peak while soaking in the scenery. Take a moment to pause and prepare for the next hike to Sumo Alps. Trust me, your legs need this break.
Go towards "Mount Yoko 横尾山" and once you have arrived, the Sumo Alps hike (須磨アルプス) begins. It takes approximately 10 minutes to get to the highest peak which is called the "Horse’s back (馬の背)". Surrounding this hike are small narrow hiking paths and very slippery sandy grounds. Please be careful!
The view is absolutely breathtaking.
There are a lot of locals that exercise regularly on these hikes and the ambience is very warm and encouraging.
Once you hit the "Horse’s back (馬の背)", take a memorable photo that you made it all the way! Soak it all in and give yourself a pat on the back!
The hike gets easier from here. Moving downwards, coming to the "Mount Higashi 東山" peak, where many families will then take a break and have a meal at.
Next up is all downhill trails through "Shimoyamaguchi 下山口". The trail will then have steps again and it gets fairly simple from here on. The downhill hike takes around only 15 minutes to finish and the exit is through a lovely housing area.
Close to the exit by Shimoyamaguchi is the Myōhōji Station (Seishin-Yamate Line) underground subway. It is time to head back to civilization.