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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

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    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

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        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

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        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

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    • Autumn
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    • Winter
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        Kawazu

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        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

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        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
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    • Sky
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      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

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    • Travel
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Madarao’s Big 10 Trails

Mountain Biking in Madarao, Nagano

The Madarao Big Ten Trails are a mix of gravel roads, forest roads and single track trails. They vary in difficulty and fitness level so that there is something for people of all cycling levels.

#1 Lake Nojiri Back Door

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
Nojiri Back Door

Lake Nojiri Back Door, an intermediate ride mainly on gravel roads, winds around the back of Mt. Madarao and finishes at the clear waters of Lake Nojiri—perfect for a post-ride swim, SUP or canoe ride on those hot summer days.

TRAIL GRADE: 3
DISTANCE: 18 km.
COURSE TYPE: Graveller
ESTIMATED TIME: 2 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 394 meters

#2 Furusato Road

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
Furusato Road

Furusato Road is an intermediate level trail that is mainly gravel down through Wakui and Nagata villages. It passes Oike Pond and Madarao-no-Yu hot springs. Wakui Village has three great soba restaurants. Nagata Village is the birthplace of one of Japan’s most famous song writers who penned “Furusato.” The trail ends at a temple on a river that is featured in his song.

TRAIL GRADE: 3
DISTANCE: 19 km.
COURSE TYPE: Graveller
ESTIMATED TIME: 2 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 288 meters

#3 Bear Valley 

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
Bear Valley

The Bear Valley trail is an intermediate-level gravel downhill trail that goes through logging tracks and rice fields that are predominantly off road. The trail ends in Iiyama City, where you can go for lunch at a local restaurant after the ride.

TRAIL GRADE: 3
DISTANCE: 13 km.
COURSE TYPE: Graveller
ESTIMATED TIME: 1.5 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 75 meters

#4 Yama No Kami Downhill

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
Yama no Kami Downhill

Yama No Kami Downhill follows a tight ridge down through a valley traditionally used for sumiyaki (charcoal making). It passes an ancient shrine locally known as “Yama no Kami” (God of the Mountain). It is an advanced trail with extensive single track and steep sections. For experienced riders only; a guide is recommended.

TRAIL GRADE: 6
DISTANCE: 9 km.
COURSE TYPE: Downhill
ESTIMATED TIME: 2 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 450 meters

#5 The Cow Trail

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
The Cow Trail

The Cow Trail was the old road used to bring cows up to graze on the summer grass of Madarao Kogen. It has excellent natural berms formed by the movement of the cows up the hill. It is an advanced trail with extensive single track and steep sections. A guide is recommended and experienced riders only.

TRAIL GRADE: 5
DISTANCE: 3 km.
COURSE TYPE: Downhill
ESTIMATED TIME: 1 hour
ELEVATION GAIN: 200 meters

#6 The Eight Monks Path

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
The Eight Monks Path

Named after the legendary Eight Monks of Madarao or “Hachibozuka,” this is a beginner-level ride that is an easy introduction to downhill mountain biking and great for families. It follows the old Bundo Road down the hill along the scenic Kiyo River Valley. The ride finishes in Iiyama.

TRAIL GRADE: 2
DISTANCE: 11 km.
COURSE TYPE: Graveller
ESTIMATED TIME: 1 hour
ELEVATION GAIN: 19 meters

#7 The Nozomi Grinder

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
The Nozomi Grinder

This is a tough, advanced gravel and single-track ride designed for hill climbers (and great on an e-bike) that visits beautiful Lake Nozomi before going down towards Okawa Village then straight back up the hill again. A guide is recommended and experienced riders only.

TRAIL GRADE: 4
DISTANCE: 10 km.
COURSE TYPE: Climber/Graveller
ESTIMATED TIME: 2 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 400 meters

#8 Okawa Shrine Run

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
Okawa Shrine Run

This is an intermediate ride that stays predominantly on gravel agricultural roads. The route is mostly downhill and goes past Lake Nozomi, Mt. Kenashi and the beautiful little village of Okawa and its shrine. The ride ends in Iiyama.

TRAIL GRADE: 3
DISTANCE: 20 km.
COURSE TYPE: Graveller
ESTIMATED TIME: 2.5 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 180 meters

#9 Tarumoto Circle

This ride starts at Yama No Ie Information Center, goes out to the Numanohara wetlands, down to Tarumoto Village and then back up to Yama No Ie via Akaike Pond. Tarumoto was an old onsen village on Mt. Madarao, but is now largely abandoned. It is a combination of gravel as well as largely unused bitumen back roads. It is a fun ride down and a long grind back up. This is a solid workout for advanced hill climbers or e-bikers.

TRAIL GRADE: 4
DISTANCE: 23 km.
COURSE TYPE: Climber
ESTIMATED TIME: 3 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 643 meters

#10 Giro Gravel Bike Park

Madarao Mountain Biking Autumn Nagano
Giro Gravel Bike Park

​The Giro Gravel Bike Park at Madarao Ski Resort is run by the guys at Grinduro Japan. The park is designed with gravel bikes in mind with a system of courses within the ski resort suitable for families and beginner riders. It is an easy and safe introduction to off-road riding and is currently in the first stage of construction with plans to develop considerably over the next tow years. As it is within the ski resort, it costs ¥1,800 for adults and ¥400 for children. Rental bikes are also available.

For updated information, GPS Maps, trail type and grade details, visit Madarao Big Ten Trails’ website here.

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