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benibana tunnel trail

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again, as i dont have a car, i want to give some directions to get to the trailhead for those of you who are also vehicularly challenged.
follow the mamigasaki river (the one that goes between chitose and sakazukiyama [see my previous posts for "jaba pool" and "chitose"])towards sendai. for the sake of finding the trailhead, it will be easiest if you are riding on the road directly on the right (south) side of the river. this road is eventually forced to cross the river in front of higashizawa elem school. continuing, the road will make a 90degree right turn. however, you can also see that the road goes left/straight into the tunnel. follow this but, right before the tunnel, turn right. follow this road up and under the highway and then right. this brings you to the left that is marked on the map below.
from here, it is a jeep road climb of a few kilometers up. just stay on the road. there is only 1 place where you may get confused. nearer the top, there is a left turn. take it. if you were to continue straight, i believe it deadends. after that 1 turn, it is just a strainght up and then down the other side. after a few kilometers of descent, the road will T. if you go right, there are a number of paved and dirt roads which all eventually deadend. going left at that T, you will continue to descend until you pop out right next to the other side of the benibana tunnel which you saw when you began.
at this point, you have 3 options: 1) turn left and go through the tunnel (2 kilomtrs) back to yamagata [the tunnel is no fun and quite long. not recmnd'd] 2) turn right and enjoy a long descent through lots of very rural areas and villages to finally meet rt. 13 or some other north-south road on this, eastern edge, of the valley and just make you way back to yamagata [not a bad option if you dont mind a little road action.] 3) turn around and go back over. [my favorite]
this is not a difficult ride. it gets a little steep but it is a great training ride for long climbs and fast gravel descents. not technical, but fun.
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Trail Length
(one way) 9
Trail Level
Trail Type
Fire Roads
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