“A steep quiet climb among tall trees away along a wide singletrack, that gets a bit crowded from peak to peak.
— Dylan Pradas
Climbable in the winter, though the shops may not be open.
Steep section for 1.4 miles, then crowds the rest of the way. A popular longer route is to go from Mt Jinba to Takao, cutting off the steep Shiroyama climb.
Directions to trailhead: From Tokyo, take the JR Chuo line (red) towards Kobuchizawa. Get off at Sagamiko. If you take JR Chuo Line (blue) instead, you'll have to transfer to the JR Chuo line (red) at Takao station. From Sagamiko, head east through town about 30 minutes until you reach Zenshoji Temple. There is also a bus option, but it does not run frequently. Make your way towards the back of the temple, up a small incline and then turn right. You'll see bathrooms on your left and the trailhead. There will also be a small souvenir and drink shop 10 feet from the trailhead.
The first part of this route is to climb Mount Shiroyama (城山). The trail is fairly steep, but has wooden steps for any really steep sections. This part of the trail is fairly tranquil surrounded by tall trees as you climb. You may see some other visitors, but for the most part this section of trail will not be crowded. The peak is about 1.4 miles from the trailhead.
At the peak of Shiroyama, you'll not be alone any longer. During the non-winter months there is a large food stand with typical Japanese food and drinks (including beer). There are plenty of picnic tables to hangout and have a snack. On clear days you can see Mt. Fuji. There are also restrooms at the peak.
Continue on towards Mt Takao( 高尾山). The peak is about 1.5m away. This section of the trail is a mix of dirt and wooden planks. Takao is perhaps the most popular area in Tokyo, so expect crowds. Most people though, climb Takao from the east side, only some continue on to Shiroyama. So while you won't be alone, it is still enjoyable in its own way to see so many people (mainly older Japanese) out and about. Don't be shy to say "Konnichiwa!"
Along the way to Takao, there are a few marked viewpoints to see Mt. Fuji and the surrounding landscape.
Once you reach the peak of Takao, there is a small statue stating your altitude. There are nice views as well. Takao is a large complex with many shops and a temple. Soba noodles seem to be popular as well as a few Japanese sweets.
I finish the trail description here because there are at least six different ways down the east side of Takao, including a cable car and a "ski lift". At the base of Takao, you'll be at Takaosanguchi station. You can take this back to Takao Station. Making your way on foot from the base to Takao station is also possible and should take about 30 minutes.
Flora & Fauna
Over 1,200 species of plants and a wide variety of native animals and insects, including wild boars and monkeys. Tama Forest Science Garden is at the base of Mount Takao.