After lunch we drove for about 30 minutes to Hakkoda Ropeway, located in the northern part of Towada (十和田) and Hachimantai (八幡平) National Park. About 40 minutes away from Aomori City, the ropeway was opened in October 1968. During winter to spring, one can come for mountain skiing, watching snow melting, and the blossom of many alpine plants in the wetlands.
For those who like hiking, you can walk to Mt. Akakura (赤倉岳) and Mt. Idodake (井戸岳). In the summer, it welcomes tourists from all over the country as sightseeing spots on the Hakkoda / Towada Gold Line and as the starting point for trekking courses. In late September, the autumn foliage near the mountaintop park station attracted many visitors. There is a record for the number of visitors riding the ropeway in October reaching 100,000.
In mid-October, one would start to see the first snow, but the ski season is from about December to mid-May, and you can enjoy a long course of 5km full of pristine nature. In recent years, more and more tourists come during January and February to enjoy the best skiing moments.
In August 2001, the ropeway reached a milestone of serving 10 million people since opening, and in May 2003, the new gondola made by CWA in Switzerland started to be used. In 2004, at the base and summit station, a newly built 11-seater elevator started operations, as part of barrier-free initiative, including a renovated base station waiting room hall. In July 2005, the drive controller, spare power plant, and power distribution facilities were updated.
The ropeway opens daily, with the first train starting at 9:00. The last train will depart on 16:20 (Mar to early Nov) and 15:40 (mid-Nov to Feb). The train operates every 15-20 minutes with total travel time about 10 minutes. There is a free parking lot that can accommodate about 350 cars
After paying for the tickets (2,000 yen each, return ticket), we took the ride on the ropeway, seeing some beautiful scenery, including the Aomori City and the Mutsu Bay as the background. The higher up the weather started to get windy and dark, and by the time we arrived at the summit station we could feel the chill and wind.
Looking at the thermometer it has dropped to nearly zero degree Celsius, and with the condition we could not go on the Hakkoda Gourd Trek as planned. After taking a few photos, we had to take the ropeway back down the hill, with big disappointment, and hope we can come back again in warmer season to enjoy the hike.