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Hakusan National Park/Japan

Introducing Hakusan National Park

This national park, geared for serious hikers and naturalists, straddles four prefectures: Ishikawa, Fukui, Toyama and Gifu and has several peaks above 2500m; the tallest is Hakusan (2702m), a sacred mountain that, along with Mt Fuji, has been worshipped since ancient times. In summer, hiking and scrambling uphill to catch mountain sunrises are the main activities, while in winter skiing and onsen bathing take over. The alpine section of the park is crisscrossed with trails, offering treks of up to 25km. For hikers who are well equipped and in no hurry, there is a 26km trek to Ogimachi in Shōkawa Valley.

Those looking to hike on and around the peaks are required to stay overnight, mostly in giant dorms at either Murodō Centre or Nanryū Sansō. Getting to either of these requires a hike of 3½ to five hours, and when the lodges are full, each person gets about one tatami mat's worth of sleeping space. Camping is prohibited in the park except at Nanryū Sansō camping ground; there are several camping grounds outside the park. That doesn't stop the park from swarming with visitors, however. Reservations are recommended at least one week in advance.

The closest access point is Bettōdeai. From here it's 6km to Murodō (about 4½ hours' walk) and 5km to Nanryū (3½ hours). Ichirino, Chūgū Onsen, Shiramine and Ichinose have minshuku, ryokan and camping. Rates per person start from around ¥300 for campsites, or around ¥7500 for rooms in inns with two meals.