Hiking in Gunma
For summer break I rented a car and went camping and hiking. In the COVID era, it's nice to be outdoors for daily activities and lodging, and camping and hiking are fun regardless.
There are two free campgrounds NE of Numata, 自然の森野営場 and 川場谷野営場. The former is a nice little campground along a narrow mountain road that sees almost no traffic. There are a few dozen campsites, plus two restroom buildings with running water. The latter is not a great place to stay, because it's at the end of a beat-up gravel road and has tons of bugs but no views, although because of these factors it's quiet. Neither campground has cell service for me, although that tends to happen in rural areas if you use one of the cheap cell providers.
It rained every day I was here, except the day I took the train to Tokyo for the COVID-19 vaccine. I got drenched climbing Mt. Nantai in a torrential downpour complete with thick fog and high winds. Mt. Nantai is quite the climb — it's mostly straight up, few switchbacks, and the trail becomes a stream when it rains. A few days later, during a break in the weather, I got a nice ascent on Mt. Shibutsu. This trail is well-maintained, and it was a nice morning 10 km.
不動滝キャンプ場 is a free campground SW of Itoigawa in Niigata. Unfortunately, the campground rules banned visitors from prefectures in a State of Emergency. I stealth camped there one night and then moved to the non-free (but still cheap) 能生海洋公園 荒崎キャンプ場. This campground is just up the hill from a rest area complex with restaurants and a convenience store, and it even has a cheap hot shower — great for the continuing rainy weather. One day I hiked up Mt. Amakazari. Another day I took a long walk down the walking and bike path that parallels the coastal highway. The town is famous for crab, I ate some, and it was good.
On the way back to Tokyo I overnighted at 和平公園, a free campground way up the side of a mountainside roughly south of Nagano City. It was a nice way to break up the long drive.