Atop Nago Mountain

Travel
Photo by Matt Orr: A large torii gate halfway up the staircase frames the city of Nago . The area is surrounded by cherry blossom trees. With so many on the side of the mountain, this area would be stunning when the blossoms are in bloom in the spring.
From Stripes.com
Photo by Matt Orr: A large torii gate halfway up the staircase frames the city of Nago . The area is surrounded by cherry blossom trees. With so many on the side of the mountain, this area would be stunning when the blossoms are in bloom in the spring.

Atop Nago Mountain

by: Matt Orr | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: August 11, 2012

I like to think that when I wrap up my current threeyear tour in six months, I will have made the most of my opportunity to explore the wonders of Okinawa.

Without a doubt, I will miss the great weather and the spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling. But until recently, I hadn’t taken advantage of the hiking trails splattered across the island. I love the outdoors and growing up, a typical family vacation involved camping and hiking.

A Google search produced a few lists with some directions to some hiking trails on the island. It looked like the better ones were in the less-populated areas in the northern part of the island. I was looking for a strenuous hike that I could do on my own, and without getting lost.

So it was with a sense of determination and purpose that I set off on an adventure to hike to the top of Nago Mountain, which according to an online post has “beautiful views of Okinawa.”

Nago Mountain — located just to the west of the city of Nago — offered a hike that should take just under two hours. That’s what the online description said anyway.

So in a car that had a full tank of gas and a mind set on finally accomplishing a hike, I pointed the car north and headed up the Okinawa Expressway.

An hour or so later, I finally managed to pull into what I thought was the correct parking lot with a path that would lead to the beginning of the trailhead. But that wasn’t the case.

I was close and did end up finding the trail, but not until after wandering many roads and cement trails before finally coming to the beginning of the trail at the back of a campground located at a youth center.

The trail is easy to follow, wellconstructed, and for the sections that go up and down, logs have been set into the trail to replicate steps.

Colorful butterflies fluttered across the trail and I even glimpsed a mongoose scurrying off the path ahead of me.

About an hour into the hike, I came to a small clearing. A post with Japanese kanji inscribed on it and a small rectangular cement block indicated I had reached the summit of Nago Mountain.

The view was stunning, so I decided it best to take a photo of myself doing a handstand on top of the summit marker. It made sense to me.

With a sense of accomplishment — and high winds blustering — I began my descent.

An hour or so later, I was back in my car and heading south on Highway 58.

It had been a great day, and with National Public Radio playing, I promised myself I would do more hikes before leaving Okinawa.

orrm@pstripes.osd.mil
KNOW & GO
How to get there: Head north on Highway 58 or take the Expressway and exit at the Nago exit. Approaching Nago, turn right onto Highway 18. Take the first left, then turn right at the large banyan tree and drive until you see a large torii.

Note to parents: The wooden steps are quite slippery as the trail is underneath a dense canopy of trees. I do not recommend small children be taken on this hike as it could be dangerous, especially as some parts of the trail are quite steep.