Coming from Onomichi, Innoshima Bridge is the first bridge you conquer on your way along the Shimanami Kaido. While the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge is a gargantuan bridge to cross, the Innoshima Bridge is pretty easy in comparison. All of the bridges along the Shimanami Kaido are difficult to reach. On average, it takes about 1.3km to climb to the bridge from the bottom at an average incline of 3%. For people who are out of shape, this is a difficult climb, but for those up for the challenge, it isn’t too bad. Plus you get a nice downhill ride on the other side.
The first thing I did before going on the Shimanami Kaido was to try to get information about the approach. The English guide has enough information to help you understand what to do, and there are a lot of signs to show you the way as well. The entrance on the Mukaishima side of Innoshima Bridge is well marked and there is a nice little cafe on that side too. If I was heading to Onomichi, I would consider a pit stop at the cafe, but since I was just getting on my way, it was too early to get coffee. The official entrance to the climb is actually just a little inland from the cafe but it is easy to find.
The climb from the bottom of Mukaishima to the deck of Innoshima is the same as all of the other bridges. You make your way along a narrow path that climbs the side of the mountain/hill. It is not a challenging climb but a good way to work your legs. There are a few lookouts on the way up and if you need a break, they are a welcomed place to rest and enjoy the view. You do have to be aware of scooters heading up and down the trail but in general they will pass you safely. You can even stop on the side and take photos as there aren’t too many scooters passing.
Once you get to the top, Innoshima Bridge offers a slightly unique crossing. You actually go under the bridge deck on a specially built path. Be aware that the green trail is for walkers only and the black trail is for bicycles and scooters. Keep to the left and single file and you’ll have no problems. Scooters will pass you when necessary. As I crossed the bridge, the view was nice, but with the metal fencing, I wasn’t interested in stopping to take photos.
Innoshima Bridge is not very flat. From the Mukaishima side, once you pass the entrance and start crossing the bridge, you have a short flat section before things start to proceed on a downhill incline. It is easy to just keep going faster and faster until you hit the top gear of your bicycle. The speed limit is 30kph but I had no idea how fast I was going and I didn’t care as I just enjoyed the wind in my face.
Once I got to the Innoshima side of Innoshima Bridge, I had my first taste of real fun. Thankfully, there weren’t too many signs telling you to slow down, unlike a few other bridges, so I went nearly full speed down the hill. As the expression goes, “what goes up must come down”, and I did go down, but not in a bad way. If you could see the smile on my face as I “raced” down to the bottom of Innoshima Bridge, you would see a smile wider than the one on the Joker’s face.
Crossing Innoshima Bridge is a good initiation to the Shimanami Kaido. It has a typical approach to the bridge deck, but the view on the bridge isn’t as great as the other bridges. It is a long bridge but not very long either. If I ever do the reverse, I’m not sure I would be as happy with the trip, but I would definitely give it a try.