Losing yourself in the wilderness is never more than a few minutes away in Kobe. Check out the Rokko Mountains for some great hiking!
The Rokko Range runs from the beaches of Shioya all the way along to Takarazuka, near Osaka, a total distance of around 56km. For the entire length, Kobe sits at the base of the mountains, along the thin strip of land in front of Osaka Bay. Sannomiya sits roughly half way down the length of the ranges.
Although a popular hiking area, the huge number of trails on the Rokko Mountains mean that it never feels crowded. There’s a nice vibe to it, too, with everyone slowing for a ‘Konnichiwa’ as they pass. Trails are very clearly marked and it would be difficult to get too lost. There are enough views over Kobe that orientation is always easy.
There are plenty of minor diversions such as temples and shrines for when you’re ready to take a break, and various hiking clubs have great little huts set up along the way. Many of these seem to have been established in the 1960’s, and then benignly neglected since.
Ian from the UK decided to walk the ‘first half’ of the range from Shioya (15 mins on the JR line from Sannomiya) back to ShinKobe Station. The walk was 25km in total, with a substantial amount of up and down. There are a few places along the trail when it cuts through suburban areas, so there are opportunities to grab a cold drink or stock up on snacks as you go along.
If you’re not quite as enthusiastic as Ian, you can very much dip in and dip out of various sections of the walk, with good public transport links and clearly marked access trails along the entire length of the walk. If you’re madly keen, you can join the annual 112km ‘Cannonball Run’, a night race from one end of the ranges to the other….and back! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZH5rlMnj_g
Ian is threatening to go back and finish the second half of the walk next weekend, if anyone feels like joining him!