Niseko Cycling: A Must Try in Summer

  • By Clarence

Niseko, renowned around the world for its light dry powder snow, is turning its attention to summer and developing its cycling scene in the process. With its lush nature, scenic mountains, well-maintained roads; coupled with Niseko’s climate of low humidity, warm temperatures, and clean mountain air, Niseko is the perfect cycling destination in the summer.

Best Time to Ride

Sakaimachi Street Otaru 小樽境町通り

When the snow melts and the landscape turns green is often the best time for cycling in Niseko. The green season means sunny days with cooler temperatures due to the refreshing mountain breeze, making outdoor activities in Niseko much more enjoyable without the risk of overheating. Moreover, summer is one of the town’s quieter seasons, meaning, less road traffic and more local roads for cyclists to enjoy. We recommend visiting Niseko for all cycling activities between June and October. Generally, all trails are open during this period.

A Variety of Rides to Enjoy

Road Cycling
Mountain Biking

Cycling opportunities in Niseko continue to grow with numerous cycling events to be enjoyed and experienced during the summer months. Road cycling is becoming one of the more popular activities in the area, mainly due to its easy access to quiet, well-maintained country roads. Explore the beauty of the region as you navigate on undulating country and mountain roads, taking in the scenery, stopping at the many little restaurants on your ride and finishing with a soak in an Onsen, to recharge and go again the following day.

If you prefer mountain trails over paved roads, mountain biking in Niseko is a must-try. Taking advantage of the mountainous terrain, the mountain biking scene continues to grow in the area with new trails being built and opening up each year. Made for everyone to enjoy, these trails cater to all ages from beginners to experienced riders.

For those looking for something in between, Niseko lends itself well to Gravel riding, with many country roads turning into gravel roads winding through the foothills and along the rivers of the surrounding landscape. You will soon see why Gravel cycling in Niseko is so popular.

Join the Events

Niseko Classic

For the more competitive cyclists, several events take place in Niseko throughout the green season to challenge your skills. This year, Setsu Niseko is a leading sponsor of the 4 main cycling events in Niseko: The Niseko Classic, The Hanazono Hill Climb, and the two Niseko Gravel Rides in spring and autumn.

Every June, over 1,000 riders make their way to Niseko for the Niseko Classic, an annual road race event, with two categories: the 150 km and 80 km road races. It is the biggest cycling event in Niseko and also doubles as a qualifier event for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. 

Events Dates
Niseko Gravel Spring Ride 2024 12 May 2024
Niseko Classic 2024 14 - 16 June 2024
Hanazono Hill Climb 2024 4 August 2024
Niseko Gravel Autumn Ride 2024 21 - 22 September 2024
Event Schedule

A shorter, but equally as challenging event for road cyclists is the Hanazono Hill Climb that happens every August, alongside Kutchan’s local festival, Jagamatsuri. Climbing the mountain pass of Mt. Annupuri, this race covers 617 vertical metres and over 14 km, with the leaders completing the distance in just over 30 minutes. Whilst this does sound daunting, it is open to everyone to participate in and complete at their own pace.

On the other hand, the Niseko Gravel Ride is a hybrid fun ride event that happens every spring and autumn. Participants can choose to join the 60 km or the 100 km event, riding on both paved and unpaved roads, taking you through various areas of Niseko - including restricted-access gravel roads that are open only for the event. These events are so popular that they are now one of the leading Gravel events in Japan.

Explore Niseko’s Bike Parks and Trails

Lake Toya 洞爺湖

Whether you’re just looking to enjoy some bike rides or wanting to brush up on your skills, Niseko has several bike parks and trails that you can ride.

Whilst Niseko and the surrounding area has many rides to enjoy, a popular route for all cyclists is the Mt. Yotei loop. As the name suggests, you will loop your way around the majestic Mt. Yotei, appreciating how dominant it is as you rise and descend on picturesque country roads. Stop off at the many fresh springs along the way and refill that empty drink bottle. This route will also take you through the nearby towns of Kutchan, Makkari, and Kyogoku.

Another way to explore Niseko is by following a culinary food trail, discovering the gastronomic delights waiting for you in the area. For a longer distance route, you could consider a ride to and around Lake Toya, a famous freshwater lake with a dormant volcano at its centre. If the distance is too far, spend the night in one of the traditional inns or onsen hotels in the area before riding back to Niseko the following day.

Twin Peaks Bike Park
Photo Credit: NAMBA
Twin Peaks Bike Park
Photo Credit: NAMBA

For those looking to enjoy the mountains up close, the Twin Peaks Bike Park is where you want to ride. Opened in autumn last year, these mountain bike trails are set to launch for its first full summer from 1 June. A collaborative project between NAMBA (Niseko Area Mountain Biking Association) and Allegra Tourismus, an internationally renowned trail design company, the free-to-use park features 12 trails suitable for all levels: 4 beginner trails, 6 blue square (intermediate) trails, and 2 black diamond (expert) routes, guaranteeing everyone can enjoy the park.

Anyone wanting to learn or improve their mountain biking skills can also take advantage of their beginner-friendly skills park. With more trails planned this summer, you will be hearing more about the Twin Peaks Bike Park in the future. Twin Peaks will be open until 27 October 2024.

Another local bike park that opened its doors this June is the Niseko Koropokkur Bike Park. Developed by a mountain bike school, anyone interested in trying out mountain biking or improving their skills can take classes here. Later in the year, Niseko Tokyu Grand Hirafu will also be reopening their mountain bike course to the public which is accessible by the Hirafu gondola. The gondola and mountain bike course will feature both gentle and steep slopes, as well as a skill-up area. This will be open from 13 July - 23 September 2024.

Bike Rentals around Niseko

Rhythm Niseko

Should you not be able to travel with your bicycle, there are several places in Niseko where you can rent one from. For a casual ride around the area, the town of Niseko has a bicycle rental service where you can borrow their electric bikes every day from 9:00 - 18:00. 

For a wider range of bike options, we recommend our partners, Rhythm Japan. Rhythm offers one day and multi-day rentals across a range of bikes - hybrid bikes, electric bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes and kids’ mountain bikes. Reach out to them directly or via the Setsu Niseko concierge team once you have booked your stay.

You May Also Like

The Heroes Who Brings the Freshest Produce to Town

The Heroes Who Brings the Freshest Produce to Town

Get to know more about our local heroes, what they do and the story behind all their hard work producing and delivering the town's best quality vegetables for our locals and guests to enjoy. 

September 08, 2021
Read More
The Winter Legends

The Winter Legends

While we appreciate living in a town renowned for the best powder snow in the world, we also want to recognize the legends behind the beautiful snowscapes; the snow-clearing team who work incredibly hard throughout the whole snowy season, ensuring every guest has an amazing winter experience.

March 29, 2022
Read More
Travel Freely in Japan this Winter

Travel Freely in Japan this Winter

Setsu Niseko as a licenced Japanese travel agent can help you travel to Japan this winter. Japan is open to International tourist with a few extra steps required to enter.

September 14, 2022
Read More