Yoshida Trail, Mount Fuji, Japan
Best For: Anyone who wants to take part in what has become a Japanese cultural tradition
Distance: There are several trails to the top of Fuji but the most popular, the Yoshida Trail, covers about eight miles.
Many hikers would put the climb of Mount Fuji on the list of worst trails in the world. Quite simply, the 12,389-foot volcano—the highest point in Japan—is one of the most climbed mountains in the world, with over 300,000 hikers looking to reach the summit each year. And it’s quite easy to access since its four major trailheads can all be reached via public transport from downtown Tokyo.
But it’s the crowds themselves (a third of which are foreigners) that make Fuji, made iconic by the 19th-century wood prints of Katsushika Hokusai, such a memorable climbing experience. You can stop for noodles and a seat in front of a fire in the huts along the way, and if you want to watch the sunrise from the summit you’ll most likely do so with over a thousand new friends. Wilderness experience? Certainly not. But it is a once-in-a-lifetime cultural trip. Just remember what the Japanese say: “You are wise to climb Mount Fuji once but a fool to climb it twice.”
When to Go: The official season is July through August. The crowds are smaller in June and September, but the huts may be closed and public transport slows down. In the winter, Fuji requires technical mountaineering and snow safety gear.
Insider Tip: You won’t escape the crowds but you certainly will have fewer people on the trail in front of you if you try one of the less traveled paths to the summit, such as the Gotemba Trail, covering about ten miles and 4,723 vertical feet.