Takedao Train Tracks Trail
A little hard to find, but worth going out of your way for the tranquil and unique hiking experience in Hyogo.
Part of the appeal of the hiking trail from Namaze to Takadao station in Hyogo Prefecture is the feeling of exploring a new area and uncovering its hidden secrets. Originally intended to be a train line that would service the entire area, the project was soon abandoned and the area’s abundant nature quickly reclaimed its domain. Every tunnel that you pass through and corner that you turn leads to brightly colored bridges now wrapped with vines, birds that have built their nests on top of tunnels and undergrowth that is rapidly entwining even the tracks themselves.
Appropriately for a location with so much to explore and uncover, even finding the entrance to the hike can be a challenge as the area is accessed via a nondescript path leading down into a residential area. Simply to find the start of the trail, you will then have to wind your way through an area full of traditional houses and old temples. While this may sound troublesome, with its old architecture and forgotten temples, it is well-worth taking your time to get lost in the residential area before heading into the natural area.
The contrast with the busy road and the houses couldn’t be starker as soon as you arrive at the river. The area consists of a path with a bird sanctuary and rapids on one side; greenery and small waterfalls on the other. This natural beauty is accentuated by the man-made highlights of the trip: the railroads that lead through a series of bridges right through the middle of the most beautiful part of the natural setting.
While the bridges are the main attraction of the man-made part of the area, they are also the biggest challenge. People suffering from nyctophobia would do well to enjoy the first bridge, which can be navigated in the dark, and turn back before the second bridge. The second and fourth of the five bridges involve 10 minutes or so in utter darkness with an unstable rocky floor. A torch and an unflappable sense of adventure are essential.
It is recommended to start the route backwards by starting at Namaze instead of Takedao station like most hikers.
Few places combine the scary thrill of going through utter darkness and then emerging into sunlight, fantastic nature and suspension bridges above ravines over and over again like this trail does. That constant mixture of both man-made and natural beauty is what makes the area so special. The constant tug-of-war between those two forces makes the path from Namaze to Takedao an exciting and constantly changing experience regardless of season.
Before you go
It is recommended to start the route backwards by starting at Namaze instead of Takedao station like most hikers. From Namaze station turn right and walk down the hill from the station. You will pass through a small tunnel. After this tunnel the road meets a crossroads where you should turn left. You will know you are on the right path if you pass under a large highway.
Shortly after this overpass, you will see a bus stop on the right side of the road marked 木の元 and the entrance is across the road from this. The exit is easily missed, so be careful. There is a bridge, but do not take it, instead take the small path going down next to the bridge. Turn right at the bottom of the slope and keep heading down until you reach the river. Turn left at the river.
Have a picturesque hike!