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500px Photo ID: 51173684 -

Syuzo Tsushima / 500px

The 2446 stone steps through ancient cedars to Haguro-san's summit (419m) have been smoothed by centuries of pilgrims. The climb, taking up to two hours, passes Gojū-no-tō (五重塔), a beautiful wooden five-storey pagoda dating from the 14th century. At the top marvel at the San-shin Gōsaiden (三神合祭殿), a vivid red hall that enshrines the deities of Dewa Sanzan's three mountains.

If you're completing the circuit, you must catch the bus from the parking lot beyond the shrine, bound for Hachigōme (八合目; eighth station), where the trail to the top of Gas-san picks up again. The last bus leaves just after 2pm. Most of the old 20km pilgrim trail along the ridge line to Gas-san became overgrown after a road was built in the 1960s.