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Going around Hokkaido (10) Ryugudai Observatory to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden: Lake Saroma ultra drive!




This is one of the articles from the series to drive around the coastline of Hokkaido from Otaru City. In this tenth article, I will go around Lake Saroma in the eastern Hokkaido!

I will try as much as I can to go around Lake Saroma counter-clockwise from Ryugudai Observatory in Yubetsu-Cho to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden in Tokoro District in Kitami City. 

The view from Lake Saroma Observatory, which I stopped by was incredibly beautiful! 

 

Table of Contents

- About the series: Going around Hokkaido
- About the route: From Ryugudai Observatory in Yubetsu-Cho to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden in Kitami City
- The long and narrow sandbank between the ocean and the lake
- I want to see drift ice from here someday! Ryugudai Observatory
- Ryugudai Observatory to Kerochi Kotsu Park: railway fans’ must-stop! 
- Kerochi Kotsu Park to Lake Saroma Observatory: The view was incredible! I want to take panoramic pictures
- Lake Saroma Observatory to Sencho No Ie: Drove the car as I see the sunset on the lake
- Sencho No Ie to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden: I rode a bicycle and tried to go as far as I can 



サロマ湖展望台から眺めたサロマ湖。絶景!!▲Lake Saroma, seen from Lake Saroma Observatory. It’s a fantastic view! 

 

About the series: Going around Hokkaido

This is a part of the series of articles to introduce my journey to go around Hokkaido. I will introduce my relaxing trip about visiting cities and towns, enjoying beautiful views, having delicious foods, and encountering to fascinating people.

Below are the basic rules about the project:
- Basically, drive only National Routes or Hokkaido Roads along coastlines.
- I can use municipal roads near central towns, promontories, etc. However, I try not to use community roads and private roads. 
- I only drive the mainland of Hokkaido. (I’m sorry to those live in islands!)
- I drive from the sunrise to the sunset to enjoy the views.
- I divide my journey into a few times according to the coverage schedule.


 

About the route: From Ryugudai Observatory in Yubetsu-Cho to Cape Hinode Lookout La Luna in Oumu-Cho



今回のルートはこちら(Google My Maps)▲The route of this article (Google My Maps) 


Ryugudai Observatory in Yubestu-Cho to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden in Tokoro, Kitami City
Mileage: Approx. 62 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 1 hour 45 mins (except breaks, time to stop at sightseeing spots, and the detour)


Check the detailed map from the link below! 
Going around Hokkaido

You can find the previous article of the series here: 
Going around Hokkaido (9) Cape Hinode to Ryugudai Observatory: I felt relaxed by seeing seals in the town of drift ice and crabs

* This article contains pictures taken in different seasons. 

 

The long and narrow sandbank between the ocean and the lake

Lake Saroma is a brackish lake connected to the Sea of Okhotsk. It’s the biggest lake in Hokkaido. 


右がサロマ湖、左がオホーツク海。湖と海の間は長さ約25km、幅200~700mの細長い砂洲で隔てられています▲In this picture, Lake Saroma is on the right, and the Sea of Okhotsk is on the left. The distance between the lake and the sea is approximately 25 kilometers. They are divided by a long and narrow sandbank with 200 meters to 700 meters wide. 


Lake Saroma was a lake that was not connected to the sea until the early 20th Century. 
* The lake was a part of the ocean in ancient times, so it’s a lagoon to be specific. 

Frontiers at that time dug the sandbank to create a water channel because water overflowed in spring when snow melts and flooded farmlands in the neighborhood. Now it became a brackish lake with abundant seafood resources. 

After that, they built another water channel in the late 20th Century. The lake is now connected to the ocean with two water channels.  


ワッカ原生花園側にある橋の上から眺めた水路とサロマ湖▲The water channel and Lake Saroma, seen from the bridge on the side of Wakka Primeval Flower Garden. 


There is a road called Ryugu Kaido on the sandbank, but parts of it prohibit entry of vehicles, and one of the water channels does not have a bridge. Which means, unfortunately, we can’t completely go around Lake Saroma.

With that said, I would like to try as much as I can to go around Lake Saroma. 

 

I want to see drift ice from here someday! Ryugudai Observatory

My starting point of this article is Ryugudai Observatory on the sandbank in the north-west side of Lake Saroma. 


キャンプ場の入口付近に駐車場と展望台があります▲There are parking and an observatory near the entrance of the campsite. (Yubetsu-Cho provided the picture)


右がサロマ湖、左がオホーツク海。細長い陸地が続きますが、この先に水路があり陸地は途切れます▲Lake Saroma is on the right, and the Sea of Okhotsk is on the left. A long and narrow land continues, but it ends at some point when the water channel appears. 


To be more precise, I asked Yubetsu-Cho for a picture of this area taken from the sky. 


龍宮台展望台付近の上空から眺めた砂洲(写真提供:湧別町)▲The picture of the sandbank from the sky around Ryugudai Observatory. (Yubetsu-Cho provided the picture) 


Can you now imagine that you are at the tip of the long and narrow land? Only construction related people can get closer to the water channel, so let’s enjoy the view from the observatory. 


展望台の近くには海浜植物の花が咲く短い散策路があり、浜辺まで出ることができます▲There is a short promenade to the beach near the observatory, and you can encounter flowers of beach plants. 


It is great to enjoy the landscape from spring to autumn when the weather is calm, but it becomes a perfect place to watch drift ice. 


展望台から流氷の海を遠望できるうえ、浜辺で流氷を間近に眺めることも可能!(写真提供:湧別町)▲You can not only get a distant view of the ocean with drift ice but also see it closely from the beach! (Yubetsu-Cho provided the picture) 


I want to visit here again in mid-winter someday! 

 

Ryugudai Observatory to Kerochi Kotsu Park: railway fans’ must-stop! 

Ryugudai Observatory to Kerochi Kotsu Park
Mileage: Approx. 22 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 35 mins


Well, let’s head for driving around Lake Saroma! 
I will go back the road I used to get to Ryugudai Observatory. I kept driving for a while with the views of Lake Saroma appear and disappear on the left. I parked the car for a while to take a short break at Saginuma Primeval Flower Garden and started to drive again. 


背後は海ではなく湖。こうして見るとサロマ湖ってでっかい! ▲There is no ocean in the background; it’s a lake. I now see how big Lake Saroma is! 


I took a different road from what I used before. Then took a left turn when I merged to the National Route no. 238. I kept driving the national route for a while, then I found an interesting road along the lake, so I took a detour. 

This road used to be the railway for former Japan National Railway’s Yumou Line. I imagine that trains at that time offered pretty scenic views from windows. 


列車の運転士だったらこんな風景を眺めながら運転していたのかな?なんて思いながら、湖畔沿いの元線路の道路を走ります▲I drove the former railway as I imagine that driver of trains at that time would have seen this beautiful scenery as they work. 


After the trains are gone, now cars and people run here. 


サロマ湖100kmウルトラマラソンの案内表示も発見▲I found signs for Lake Saroma 100 kilometer Ultra Marathon. 


I could not stop by Michi No Eki Ai-Land Yubetsu along the national route because I took this route. This Michi No Eki has an amusement park. You can get the view of Lake Saroma sky if you ride the Ferris wheel. 
This detour was nice but stopping at Michi No Eki also sounds fun! 


観覧車内から眺めたサロマ湖(写真提供:湧別町)▲Lake Saroma, seen from the Ferris wheel. (Yubetsu-Cho provided the picture) 


After driving a few minutes from here, I reached the next stop. That is “Kerochi Kotsu Park.” 

This is ruins of Kerochi Station of former Japan National Railway’s Yumou Line. 

Kerochi Station ended operation as Yumou Line ended in 1987. Locals wanted to leave a place for people to gather and pass down the history that there was a station here. So volunteers cooperate to preserve and exhibit station facilities, etc. 


現在、元駅施設の一部は宿泊施設として活用され、ホーム跡にはSLや客車が展示されています▲A part of station facilities is now turned into accommodation. There is also a steam train and passenger cars for the exhibition. 


Station facilities and cars are preserved very well. I can feel the efforts and wills of the local people here. I want to learn the history and culture with respects to them. 

 

Kerochi Kotsu Park to Lake Saroma Observatory: The view was incredible! I want to take panoramic pictures

Kerochi Kotsu Park to Lake Saroma Observatory
Mileage: Approx. 13 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 25 mins


After seeing steam trains, I went back to the national route. I should keep driving along the lake, but I took a detour again. 

I took a right turn to the opposite side of the lake on the left side. 


細い山道を10分~15分くらい登っていきます▲I kept driving a narrow mountain path for 10 to 15 mins. 


I was heading to “Lake Saroma Observatory” in Saroma-Cho. It’s an observatory on Mt. Horoiwa with 376 meters elevation. It’s located almost in the center of Lake Saroma. 

Most of the path is a narrow gravel path. It is difficult to pass each other’s car. But, a fantastic view that you would forget that efforts are waiting for you! 


駐車場から展望台へとさらに歩いて登ります▲You will need to walk up a little from the parking to the observatory. 


There is nothing to block the view here, so the view from here is truly amazing! 
It was too magnificent, and I wanted to take a panoramic picture. 


一枚の写真におさまりきらないので4カットに分けて撮影。水平線の位置がすれちゃいましたが…このとおり! ▲I could not fit the whole view in one picture, so I divided into four cuts. The position of the horizontal line did not turn well… but it turned out like this!   


I can see from the left tip to the right tip of Lake Saroma as well as sandbank that divides the lake and the ocean. I heard that you could also see Shiretoko Mountain Range on a sunny clear day. 

It was really incredible, and I took a video, too. I did not have tripods, so mind the shakes. 
 


I needed 10 kilometers round trip from the national route to get here, but it was totally worth the trip! 

 

Lake Saroma Observatory to Sencho No Ie: Drove the car as I see the sunset on the lake

Lake Saroma Observatory to Sencho No Ie
Mileage: Approx. 25 kilometers
The time required: Approx. 40 mins


I went down the gravel path carefully towards the national route. I felt really thankful to the paved road with enough width, which means a regular road.

I took a left turn after driving the national route for a while. I will head to Cape Kimuneappu, which is the cape sticks out to Lake Saroma. The lakeside around here lets you view plants and flowers around the lake and beautiful sunset on Lake Saroma. 


キムアネップ岬付近で夕暮れを迎えました▲I watched the sunset around Cape Kimuneappu. 


This project’s rule is to drive only when the sun is out, so I will end my journey today shortly. 

I will stay at “Sencho No Ie,” which is approx. 10 minutes from here, and drive again on the next day. 

By the way, those who have stayed at Sencho No Ie might know, you should not eat a big lunch! The reason? The amount of meal is crazy here. If you want to know how much, you should check out the article below! 

You may like this article: 
Crabs, crabs, and crabs! “Sencho No Ie” - the family-run inn along Lake Saloma provides an unbelievable amount of meals!

 

Sencho No Ie to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden: I rode a bicycle and tried to go as far as I can

Sencho No Ie to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden
Mileage: Approx. 2 kilometers + extra distance
The time required: Approx. 25 mins + extra time


I drove to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden after having not only an enormous amount of dinner but also breakfast. I say drive, but my destination is very close. I can reach there in five mins. 


サロマ湖にかかる橋を渡り、ワッカ原生花園へ。ホタテの形(多分!?)が妙にカワイイ▲I crossed the bridge on Lake Saroma and arrived at Wakka Primeval Flower Garden. The shape of scallop (I guess?) is quite cute. 


Wakka Primeval Flower Garden is one of the most significant primeval flower gardens (coastal plain) in Japan, with 200 meters to 700 meters width and approximately 20 kilometers length. It spreads on the sandbank between Lake Saroma and the Sea of Okhotsk. 
As the sand bank on the side of Yubetsu-Cho, there is a road called Ryugu Kaido in here, too. 


ワッカ原生花園の駐車場へ到着!▲I am at the parking of Wakka Primeval Flower Garden! 


There is a promenade near the parking, and you can enjoy the views near the water and coastal flowers as you take a walk. 


湖をバックにカシャ!(お二方、撮影ご協力ありがとうございました)▲Let’s take pictures with the lake! (Thank you for the corporation to both of you) 


Regular cars can go up to the parking, and you can’t drive on the sandbank from here. Hmm, it’s unfortunate. I wanted to go as much as I can to go around Lake Saroma. 
I won’t give up! I will drive further with this one!


ワッカ原生花園の駐車場に併設したワッカネイチャーセンターでレンタサイクルを借りました♪▲I rented a bicycle at Wakka Nature Center, the facility built with the parking of Wakka Primeval Flower Garden. 


From here will be a bonus trip for this project. I will keep driving Ryugu Kaido with a bicycle. 


キタキツネとご対面♪目が合ってしばし見つめ合ったものの、私が少し近づくと彼(彼女!?)はパッと駆け出しササッと草むらへ消えていきました(警戒していたのでしょうね…)▲I encountered an Ezo red fox. It saw me, and I saw it for a while. However, it ran away in the grass right after I stepped closer. (I think it was scared of me…) 


途中に休憩ポイントもあります▲There is also a resting area on the way. 


休憩ポイントから海辺に出るといい雰囲気♪▲Getting closer to the beach from the resting area. The view is nice! 


北見市側はオホーツク海(写真左)とサロマ湖(右)をつなぐ水路の上を橋で渡ることが可能。こうして見ると細長い砂州というのがよくわかります▲I looked back. You can cross water channel which connects the Sea of Okhotsk (on the left in this picture) and Lake Saroma (on the right) with a bridge in the Kitami City side. I can see well that it is a long narrow sand bank. 


本来もう少し先へ行けるのですが、ヒグマの目撃情報があった影響で今回は橋をわたりきったところから先は通行止め。ここでフィニッシュ!▲I could go further, but there was a notice of “no entry” because there was eyewitness report about brown bears. 


I tried to go as much as I can to go around Lake Saroma from the sandbank on the side of Yubetsu-Cho and to the sandbank of Kitami City. 

It felt quite nice! You should try if you have a chance.

In the next article, I will head towards Cape Notori from Wakka Primeval Flower Garden and to Abashiri City. 
  • Going around Hokkaido (10) Ryugudai Observatory to Wakka Primeval Flower Garden: Lake Saroma ultra drive!
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