Mount Takao(高尾山), also called Takao-san, is located about 50 kilometers from the center of Tokyo which makes it one of the closest natural recreation areas. Mount Takao has many different hiking trails for anyone from beginners to professionals. A hike from the base to the top takes about 90 minutes, but you also use the chair lift or cable car that will bring you halfway up the mountain. With clear weather you can see mount Fuji and there is also an observation deck where you can enjoy a stunning view over outer Tokyo. On the observation deck you can find restaurants and toilets as well, which makes it a perfect place to take a break.
Some sightseeing spots you don’t want to miss during your hiking are the Yakuoin Temple and the Monkey Park.
The Yakuoin temple, officially known as Takaosan Yakuoin Yukiji Temple, is believed to be built in 744 and has a rich history. Many visitors visit this Temple to pray to Shinto Buddhist Mountain Gods (tengu) for good fortune. Free entry. In the Monkey Park you can see many macaques and enjoy the Wild Plant Garden with more than 500 different types of plants and flowers. Entry fee is 420 yen.
The Chair Lift and the Cable Car are both very convenient and will give you a great view of the mountain. The Cable Car can be a bit crowded though, which is why I prefer the Chair Lift. Both the Chair Lift and Cable Car are 480 yen for one way and 930 yen for a round trip (kids fee is 240 – 460).
One of the most popular period to visit Mount Takao is during Autumn (especially during November). During Autumn the leaves will change into beautiful deep red, orange and yellow colors which is absolutely stunning. It’s highly recommended to visit during weekdays instead of the weekend. The easiest way to get there is from Shinjuku. Take the Keio direct semi-limited express to Takaosanguchi Station.
Official Mount Takao website (in English): http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/index2.htm