Lake Toya is found about 100 minutes south of Sapporo by express train, and is mostly known for lake activities (camping, fishing, hiking) and its hot springs. In 2008, it was the host of the G8 summit, meeting in one of the luxury hotels found around the lake.
Most tourists will head to Toyako Onsen, a touristy hot spring resort town on the southern edge of the lake. It's the hub for most locations around the lake, including the bus to Toya Station (about 15 minutes). Of course, there are several luxury hotels here, with hot springs that anyone can use (for a fee). But it's also located at the foot of Mount Usu, a large, active volcano that most recently erupted in 2000 (the fourth time in the past 100 years).
There are a bunch of shops in the parking lot there, serving food and selling omiyage (souvenir gifts). Going on a decidedly off-peak day, the shop clerks were happy to offer me a small discount off the regular price without me even asking.
The ropeway (cable car) runs from 9 AM until 4 PM (later in the summer), closing for maintenance in the winter for a few weeks. The round trip cost is 1450 yen.
Those really into hiking can do the out-and-back at Mount Usu in the morning, and head to the West Crater in the afternoon. I'll be writing about that in my next post.