Summer Mountain Biking in Nagano

Cycle through shady forests and open fields of rice paddies while enjoying majestic views of the Hakuba mountains.


When I tell people that I live in Nagano, they always respond with an envious, “Suzushii naaaaa (How Refreshing)!” But while they’re imagining all of the grassy highland fields gently undulating in the cool breeze, I’m sitting in my apartment in Nagano city sweating profusely on my couch. I’ve been doing my best recently to get out of the city and into the cooler parts of Nagano, and this weekend I visited Hakuba for some outdoor adventures.

Last Monday, my coworker and I visited the Evergreen Outdoor Center to try mountain biking. It was another hot day in Nagano city, but the temperatures hovered around 30°C in Hakuba and a refreshing breeze blew through the valley.

Our guide today was Ya-chan, a former professional mountain biker who is now “taking it easy” by offering a variety of biking tours around the Hakuba area. She showed us the beginner’s route today, but there are also downhill and private tours that offer adventure and technical challenges. After showing us some important basics of mountain biking we headed on our way through the woods.

One of the many wooded paths we used around Hakuba.

We passed a variety of expensive villas and hit several rocky trails on our way to our first stop, the local Suwa shrine. We cleansed ourselves with water from the basin and stepped through the gates to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. In front of the shrine was a massive cedar tree. According to Ya-chan, it takes about 12 people to make a ring all the way around it. With only 3 of us, we admired the view and headed on our way.

Yamagishi-san absorbs power from the great tree.

We rode through some more woods and brush until we came to a campsite by the riverside. We gently laid down our bikes, took off our shoes and waded in the crystal-clear water. Nearby a few kids were diving into a deep pool formed by the surrounding rocks. The air was hazy but we could still make out the mountaintops in the distance. After a leisurely dip, we somewhat reluctantly got out of the water, dried off and headed onto the last stretch of our tour.

Yamagishi-san and Ya-chan show off the ready position.

There were more severe uphill and downhill sections along Hakuba’s bike paths as well as some single track. We even hit a man-made jump or two. Eventually we popped out onto the main roads of Hakuba and headed to a local bike shop where Evergreen picked us up in their van and drove us back uphill. The tour was a great introduction to mountain biking and refreshing way to spend a hot summer day!

Additional Information

We did a half-day fun ride MTB tour with the Evergreen Outdoor Center. You can see more information about their various MTB tours here. There are also plenty of ski resorts which offer downhill courses for more experienced MTB riders. See them below:

Hakuba 47 Mountain Sports Park MTB

Operating Period: Mid-July to Late August
Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Location: Hakuba Village

Ticket Type Adults Children
One Ride 850 500
Three Hour 2,500 2,000
One Day 3,000 2,500

Hakuba Iwatake MTB

Operating Period: July to late August, and End of September to early November
Hours: 8:30 to 16:00 (until 17:00 during summer)
Location: Hakuba Village
Website (Japanese Only):

Ticket Type Adults Children
One Ride 1,200 800
Three Rides 3,200 2,300
One Day 4,200 3,000

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort MTB

Operating Period: Mid-July to late August
Hours: 9:00-16:30 (last gondola at 16:00)
Location: Nozawa Onsen Village, Northern Nagano

Ticket Type Adults Children
One Ride 1,500 800
One Day 3,000 1,500

Fujimi Panorama MTB

Operating Period: Late April to early November
Hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Location: Fujimi Town, Eastern Nagano

Ticket Type Adults Children
One Ride 1,550 1,000
Three Rides 3,900 2,000
One Day 4,950 2,500