Best Kyoto Hikes on Your Solo Trip in Japan

Are you planning to set out on a hiking adventure in Kyoto? Kurama to Kibune trail, Fushimi Inari circuit, Mt. Hiei, Takao to Hozukyo route, and Mount Atago are the best Kyoto hikes to do on your solo trip to Japan. All of these hikes are worth breaking a sweat for.

As a solo traveller, hiking alone has always been a liberating activity. And when I say these hikes in Kyoto did not disappoint – I mean it. The trails lead you to spectacular sights beyond the shrines and gardens of Kyoto.

Whether you want a gentle or extensive hike, Kyoto has a trail for you! And in case you are wondering what it is like to hike these trails, it’s rewarding, relaxing, and renewing! 

So, if you thrive on offbeat and adventurous experiences, I highly recommend executing a plan and hitting one of these trails in Kyoto. Not sure which hike to take up? Then, read to find out in detail the best hikes in Kyoto based on the 3 Ds—difficulty, duration, and distance—along with what makes them unique and some hiking tips. 

What Makes the Kyoto Hikes Unique?

Undoubtedly, the mountain ranges on three sides of Kyoto are the main differentiator that makes these hiking trails – WOW! Subsequently, the Alpine forests. It accentuates the exhilarating beauty of the Kyoto trails.

Apart from that, each hike in Kyoto offers distinct scenery—mountaintop, temple, and city views—all unique.

Best Hikes to Do in Kyoto on a Solo Trip

Here’s your list of the five best hikes to do in Kyoto, including a short 2 hours hike to a full-fledged one: 

1. Kurama to Kibune Trail – Easiest Kyoto Hike

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5 km

Duration: 2 hours

If you’re looking for quietness and love nature and shrines (Kurama – dera Temple), the Kurama to Kibune trail is for you. Although it’s pretty easy, it is one of the most picturesque hikes in Kyoto. 

You can start at Kurama and finish in Kibune or vice versa. However, the Kurama to Kibune route is comparatively more straightforward! Look for the hidden waterfalls—they are a true gem.

To reach Kurama, take the Eizan Railway Line from Demachiyanagi station. It takes 30 minutes to travel from the city. 

2. Fushimi Inari Hike Route – An Immersive Experience for Beginners

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5 Km 

Duration: 3 hours

Do you know how to explore Fushimi Inari Shrine in South Kyoto? Just hike to the top of Mount Inari. It is an experience tourists often skip – so make sure to climb those stairs!

As you ascend behind the main temple, the number of tourists decreases, and the vibrant, Instagram-worthy Torii tunnel increases! 

However, do not expect something extravagant at the top – no typical viewpoint exists. Fushimi Inari is all about the aura of the surrounding forest. 

3. Climb the Challenging Mt. Hiei – An Adrenaline-filled Hike

Difficulty: Difficult

Distance: 8 Km

Duration: 7 hours

Mt. Hiei holds one of the most sacred spots for Buddhists in the Kansai region – the Enryakuji Temple. No wonder the hike up Mt. Hiei is one of the must-do activities in Kyoto. 

You can start your hike from the Kyoto side on a steep trail and walk through the cedar trees to reach the other side of the mountain – Sakamoto (Shiga Prefecture). Do not miss the incredible view of Lake Biwa!

4. Takao to Hozukyo Hike – Best Nature Hike in Kyoto

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 11 Km

Duration: 6 hours

The Takao to Hozukyo trail should be on your list if you want an attraction-filled hike. This hike blew me away with the Kiyotaki River, Jingo-ji temple, Kuya-no-Taki waterfall, and secret spots like Kawarakenage (they do participate in their local custom to bid farewell to evil energies – it’s exhilarating). 

That said, the trek is easy, but the long stretch of 11 Km will test your legs. Halfway through, if you feel tired – take a quick swim in the river to wash it off!

5. Climb Mount Atago – A Grueling Hike in Kyoto

Difficulty: Difficult

Distance: 4 Km 

Duration: 5 hours

Please don’t get fooled by its distance; Mount Atago is probably one of the most rugged hikes on this list. After all, we will discuss hiking Kyoto’s highest mountain, 3032 ft. 

If you are fit and a pro-hiker, this hike in Kyoto will boost your adrenaline. The steep climb, heavy breaths, and buckets of sweat will all be worthwhile when you reach the summit. The surreal view and Atago Shrine are incredible. 

If you want to challenge yourself even more – climb Mount Atago in winter. The flaky winter snow makes it a whole different world.

Is there any Best Time to Hike in Kyoto?

Ideally, spring is the best time to hike in Kyoto, i.e., March to May. The weather remains sunny and comfortable for exploring the outdoors. But do not forget – spring is also the peak season in Japan.

Therefore, to escape chaos – plan your Kyoto hikes in late February. If luck is by your side, you might also witness the early hanami and the blooming of cherry blossoms. October is also a great time to do hikes in Kyoto.

Kyoto Hiking Tips: Tried and Tested

If I don’t share these tips, I feel I will deprive you of the best ways to explore these trails – here’s a quick rundown of my insider tips:

  • Collect stamps – yes, there are stamp stations on many of these trails. You’ll find one at the exit on your way down from Mt. Kurama.
  • Get your gear right – wear comfortable hiking shoes, carry a little backpack of essentials, and sunscreen!
  • Lastly, follow all the hiking rules—leave no trace, respect the culture, make minimal noise, and help others.

Which Kyoto Hiking Trail Excites You the Most?

Kyoto has some of the best hikes in store! If you are a beginner, Kurama to Kibune will be your best pick. But if you are a pro, opt for Mount Atago any day. The Takao to Hozukyo route is also a great pick for nature admirers. That said, pick the one that excites you the most, as all the trails are beguiling!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

Leave a Reply