Kumagoe Waterfall (kumagoe-no-taki [熊越の滝])

Rausu, Hokkaido, Japan

About Kumagoe Waterfall (kumagoe-no-taki [熊越の滝])


Hiking Distance: 1.1km round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2023-07-18
Date last visited: 2023-07-18

Waterfall Latitude: 44.03139
Waterfall Longitude: 145.14507

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

The Kumagoe Waterfall (kumagoe-no-taki or kumakoshi-no-taki [熊越の滝]; “Bear Falls?”) was a rather hidden and obscure waterfall between Shiretoko Pass and one of the Rausu Visitor Centers in Shiretoko National Park.

This was where the Shokumo River (a tributary of the Rausu River according to my GPS map) dropped 15m into a lushly forested, easy-to-miss ravine.

Kumagoe_060_07172023 - The Kumagoe Waterfall or Kumakoshi Waterfall in Shiretoko National Park
The Kumagoe Waterfall or Kumakoshi Waterfall in Shiretoko National Park

It was said that the falls got its name from a bear that was seen going through the waterfall as the word kuma meant “bear” (or even “brown bear” which are common in this part of Japan).

The second kanji character had multiple meanings including “crossing”, “surpassing”, or “falling”, among its many meanings.

What to expect with the Kumagoe Falls Hike

An excursion to this waterfall offered quite a back-to-nature experience as we had to hike on a well-vegetated (almost overgrown) narrow path that involved going past some trees that are over two hundred years old.

Of course, the primitive less-developed nature of the trail also meant lots of uneven terrain and hidden rocks beneath the overgrowth (not to mention mosquitos).

Kumagoe_033_07172023 - Some parts of the Kumagoe Falls hike can be a bit narrow and overgrown, where the foliage can conceal hidden rocks or uneven footing conspiring to bust an ankle. So you definitely want to take your time on this trail!
Some parts of the Kumagoe Falls hike can be a bit narrow and overgrown, where the foliage can conceal hidden rocks or uneven footing conspiring to bust an ankle. So you definitely want to take your time on this trail!

Therefore, you’ll definitely want to go slower on this hike as it does require a little bit of preparation and experience (it’s certainly NOT a casual stroll).

In fact, even the trailhead to start the hike down to the Kumagoe Falls was rather hidden and quite easy-to-miss (see directions below).

It was so easy-to-miss that we even managed to miss it on our first visit to Shiretoko back in June 2009.

Experiencing the Kumagoe Falls

Anyways, we managed to reach this waterfall by going on a 400m trail (or 800m round-trip; though my my trip logs suggested it was 550m and 1.1km round-trip, respectively).

Kumagoe_016_07172023 - Mom approaching a people counting camera at the bottom of the initial descent from the trailhead for the Kumagoe Falls
Mom approaching a people counting camera at the bottom of the initial descent from the trailhead for the Kumagoe Falls

The hike began from a small, unsigned car park situated right next to a tunnel in between two blind curves in the road.

After carefully crossing the road before the egress of this tunnel (listening intently for tires making loud noises on the grooves in the road), we then descended a signed trail into the thickly forested ravine below the tunnel.

At the bottom of the steps, the trail meandered along parts of the Rausu River as well as another geothermally-heated stream while also going past a curious camera that counts the number of visitors.

Beyond the camera, the trail kind of went over a few bridges, a 220-year-old Japanese Maple Tree, and then undulated along some ledges as well as some trail junctions.

Kumagoe_028_07172023 - Joshua and Mom going past a 220-year-old Japanese Maple Tree along the Kumagoe Falls Trail
Joshua and Mom going past a 220-year-old Japanese Maple Tree along the Kumagoe Falls Trail

Most of the optional spur trails deviating from the waterfall’s path were closed during our mid-July 2023 visit, so it pretty much stayed relatively flat until we had to make one noticeable climb up and down a ridge.

After descending this ridge and keeping to the narrow ledge, the path descended past a couple more large trees over 250- and 270 years old while yielding a partial view of the Kumagoe Falls.

Continuing further to the final descent, the trail bottomed out right at the lookout that finally yielded a clean view of the Kumagoe Falls.

This lookout represented the turnaround point of the hike though it did appear to keep going deeper into the forest (though it was closed during our visit).

Kumagoe_093_07172023 - Partial view of the Kumagoe Falls part way down the final descent to its actual lookout
Partial view of the Kumagoe Falls part way down the final descent to its actual lookout

So we turned back the way we came (and noticed other hikers coming down to the falls perhaps as a consequence of the lemmings effect of seeing our car parked by the tunnel).

Overall, we spent about 50 minutes away from the car, which seems just about right for a trail as somewhat rough as this one.

Authorities

The Kumagoe Waterfall resides near the town of Rausu in the Menashi District of Hokkaido, Japan. It may be administered by the Ministry of the Environment. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Ministry of the Environment website.

Kumagoe_001_07172023 - About to cross the Route 334 where we really had to pay attention to oncoming traffic, especially coming out of this tunnel
Kumagoe_008_07172023 - Signage on the other side of the Route 334 right at the trailhead of the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_009_07172023 - Joshua and Mom descending deeper into the ravine from the Kumagoe Falls Trailhead
Kumagoe_011_07172023 - At the bottom of the initial descent of the Kumagoe Falls Trail, the ravine can be prone to flooding or at least muddiness like what's shown here
Kumagoe_013_07172023 - Josh and Mom following the forested path of the Kumagoe Falls Trail
Kumagoe_017_07172023 - This sign said that there's a camera here that counts people
Kumagoe_022_07172023 - Josh going through a fairly overgrown part of the Kumagoe Falls Trail, where we had to pay attention to make sure we stayed on the path
Kumagoe_024_07172023 - Josh following along a ledge on the way to the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_025_07172023 - Sign indicating that we're going the right way while also being about half way to the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_031_07172023 - Mom going up this planked incline that helps to maintain traction as we made our way to Kumagoe Falls. I'd imagine if it's rainy, this ramp would be quite slippery
Kumagoe_037_07172023 - Josh and Mom going past a couple of picnic tables and a sign saying that the lookout platform for Kumagoe Falls was another 15m away
Kumagoe_038_07172023 - Partial look down at the Kumagoe Falls, but there's still more trail to go before getting a clean look at it
Kumagoe_040_07172023 - Just to show how much life there is along the Kumagoe Falls Trail, I noticed this big brown beetle on one of the signs
Kumagoe_041_07172023 - I noticed trail signage below the main sign indicating that there was illegal tree logging that went on around the Kumagoe Falls, and to go to come forward to the authorities if there's any information on the matter
Kumagoe_042_07172023 - There was some spur trail deviating from the way to the Kumagoe Falls Lookout, but this barricade indicated that the authorities don't want you to go that way
Kumagoe_044_07172023 - Josh and Mom continuing to descend towards the main lookout for the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_045_07172023 - Josh and Mom continuing through some overgrown parts of the trail leading down to the Kumagoe Falls Lookout
Kumagoe_047_07172023 - Mom descending some somewhat hidden steps due to the overgrowth on the Kumagoe Falls. Again, we had to slow down and really watch each step that we took
Kumagoe_048_07172023 - Josh and Mom staying on the ledge of the trail despite the overgrowth conspiring to conceal the path
Kumagoe_050_07172023 - Josh and Mom making the final descent to the lookout for the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_051_07172023 - Closer look at the concealed ledge trail thanks to all the fallen leaves. So again, we had to be vigilant about paying attention to each step that we took to get to the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_052_07172023 - Still getting a partial view of the Kumagoe Falls thanks to some trees getting in the way
Kumagoe_053_07172023 - Finally making it down to the signed lookout with a clean view of the Kumagoe Waterfall
Kumagoe_055_07172023 - First clean look directly at the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_056_07172023 - Portrait view of the Kumagoe Falls from the lookout at the end of the trail
Kumagoe_071_07172023 - Somewhat long-exposure shot of the Kumagoe Falls from the lookout
Kumagoe_073_07172023 - Contextual look at the Kumagoe Falls from the official lookout
Kumagoe_075_07172023 - The trail actually kept going further downstream of the Kumagoe Falls lookout, but this sign and barricade indicated that the path was closed during our July 2023 visit
Kumagoe_088_07172023 - Mom starting to head up after having had her fill of the Kumagoe Falls
Kumagoe_090_07172023 - Closeup look at some of the trail maintenance to ensure that people can still find the Kumagoe Falls without getting lost
Kumagoe_094_07172023 - Josh and Mom continuing to make their way back from the Kumagoe Falls to the trailhead
Kumagoe_100_07172023 - Josh and Mom continuing to carefully make their way down this narrow part of the Kumagoe Falls Trail on the way back
Kumagoe_102_07172023 - Josh and Mom still making their way back to the Kumagoe Falls Trailhead
Kumagoe_103_07172023 - Josh and Mom going past some bridge over a small geothermal stream on the way back to the trailhead
Kumagoe_109_07172023 - Another contextual look at Josh and Mom making their way back through the forested ravine to the Kumagoe Falls Trailhead
Kumagoe_110_07172023 - Josh and Mom getting closer to the trailhead as we could see the road tunnel up above us
Kumagoe_111_07172023 - Josh and Mom approaching the final ascent with the road tunnel above us getting louder and closer
Kumagoe_113_07172023 - Looking back at the people-counting camera on the Kumagoe Falls Trail
Kumagoe_115_07172023 - Josh and Mom making it back to the final ascent to the trailhead by the Route 334 to end our Kumagoe Falls excursion


The Kumagoe Waterfall sat between the Shiretoko Pass and the Shiretoko Rausu Visitor Center (the latter of which was about 3km northwest of the town of Rausu by Shiretoko Peninsula’s east coast).

The hidden trailhead parking sat about 1.5km west of the Shiretoko Rausu Visitor Center along the Route 334 (passing a bridge over the Rausu River but right before a tunnel entrance).

Kumagoe_007_07172023 - Looking back across the Route 334 towards the easy-to-miss trailhead parking for the Kumagoe Falls as seen from the trailhead (notice the tunnel limits visibility for drivers so you must cross the road carefully)
Looking back across the Route 334 towards the easy-to-miss trailhead parking for the Kumagoe Falls as seen from the trailhead (notice the tunnel limits visibility for drivers so you must cross the road carefully)

Coming from Utoro on the west coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, we’d have to drive for about 27km going up and over Shiretoko Pass before descending towards the east.

Look for an easy-to-miss car park on the left by slowing down when you’re about to leave the tunnel.

If you get down to the Shiretoko Rausu Visitor Center, then you missed this trailhead (though there happens to be a nice outdoor rotemburo you can bathe in around here).

Overall, the drive from Utoro would take over a half-hour without stops while the drive up from Rausu would take less than 10 minutes.

Kumagoe_002_07172023 - Looking in the other direction at a curving bridge over the Rausu River so you have to really watch out for fast-moving traffic
Looking in the other direction at a curving bridge over the Rausu River so you have to really watch out for fast-moving traffic

For some geographical context, Rausu was about 32km (over 30 minutes drive) east of Utoro, 68km (under 90 minutes drive) northeast of Shari, 155km (over 2.5 hours drive) northeast of Kushiro, 265km (about 4.5 hours drive) northeast of Obihiro, 303km (over 5 hours drive) east of Asahikawa, and 439km (about 6.5 hours drive) northeast of Sapporo.

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Brief sweep showing the falls from the end of the trail

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Tagged with: kumagoe falls, kumagoenotaki, kumagoeno falls, kumagoeno waterfall, shiretoko, rausu river, tunnel, shiretoko pass, mt rausu, rausu, hokkaido, japan



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