Cycle Through Okunikko's Autumn Foliage

In autumn, the hills of Okunikko transform into beautiful fall colors. One of the best ways to experience the striking scenery is to rent a bicycle and pedal through the less-traveled side of Okunikko. Ride at your own pace and enjoy the red and yellow hues reflected in Lake Sainoko and Lake Chuzenji. The foliage along this roughly 4.5-hour route is at its peak in early to mid-October. Staying the previous night at Yumoto Onsen or on the shores of Lake Chuzenji allows you to avoid the traffic jams on Irohazaka Slope that are common during prime leaf-peeping season.


Setting off to Odashirogahara Plateau

Start your day by renting your bike at the Sanbonmatsu-Chaya Eco-Tourism Center (by the Sanbonmatsu bus stop). Before you depart, head across the road and take in the autumn scenery of the Senjogahara Plateau from the Senjogahara Observation Deck. Then hop on your bike and proceed down the road past the Akanuma Nature Information Center until you reach the road for low-emission buses. For the following stretch of the route, cyclists must stay on this road to protect the natural environment, being sure to yield to the occasional passing bus. Follow this road until you reach Odashirogahara Plateau. In autumn, the grasses of this marshland turn shades of red, orange, and yellow, matching the surrounding area's foliage. The one lonely birch tree standing among the grass offers an interesting photo opportunity.


The serene shores of Lake Sainoko

After passing the Yumihari Pass, the ride is mostly downhill. Coast down to the Sainoko-iriguchi bus stop, hop off your bike, and walk about 25 minutes through colorful trees to reach Lake Sainoko. The out-of-the-way location of this small lake (1.5 kilometers in circumference) means it has one of the quietest lakeshores in Nikko. Bask in the sounds of water, bird songs, and the whistling wind as you view the Manchurian ash trees surrounding the lake's sandy shores. Lake Sainoko used to be part of the much larger Lake Chuzenji, but soil and sand naturally dammed and separated it over thousands of years.


A quieter side of Lake Chuzenji

Head back to your bike and cycle onward to Senjugahama Beach on the west side of Lake Chuzenji. This stretch of the famous lake's shoreline is less visited and much calmer than the northern end. Here, you can unwind and relax after your ride with views of Mt. Nantai towering over the water—particularly pretty in fall. After a calming stroll along the shore, continue along the same path to head back to Sanbonmatsu and return your bike.

Areas of Nikko