Towering 5,448 feet along the spine of the peninsula, Mt. Rausu is snow-covered from October to June. The most accessible trailhead is 5 km (3 miles) east of Utoro behind the Hotel Chi-no-hate; if you are a fast hiker, you can walk for one hour, 20 minutes to a 1,920-foot rocky outcrop, then another two hours to the top. From there trails head west (two hours) to meet the Utoro-Rausu highway at Shiretoko Pass, or go over the ridge and down to Rausu (three hours). Check
weather conditions before hiking, sign the trailhead books, and fix a bear bell to your backpack.
Aching muscles can be soaked in open-air hot springs waiting at the end of the hike: Iwaobetsu Onsen, just below the Hotel Chi-no-hate parking lot, has four steaming rocky pools where there's a strong likelihood of sitting naked with strangers. Near the trailhead and campsite on the Rausu side, look for Kuma-no-yu, two boiling pools areas for men and women separated by some unfortunate concrete and rusty pipes, but fenced in for privacy.
Shiretoko National Park, Japan