小菅奥社は戸隠と比較したら、すぎのパワーは少ないかもしれないけど他の面で魅力はあるし、駐車場が溢れていない。そして距離は短い（1.1km vs. 2km)だが、標高差は小菅の勝ち（登り口が540ｍ、奥社が880ｍ=標高差340ｍ；戸隠は登り口が1200ｍ、奥社が1380ｍ=標高差180ｍ）。汗はかけますよ!大半は石畳（？）なので、雨なくて滑りやすい。
Iiyama City's Kosuge Shrine was historically the site of 'shugyou' ascetic training on par with Togakushi, Nagano's better known 'shugyou' spot. As with Togakushi, there is an 'okusha', or Inner Shrine. And, as with Togakushi, the path to the Inner Shrine is lined with ancient cedar trees.
However, while Togakushi's Inner Shrine is the subject of a 'power spot' boom in publicity complete with overflowing parking lots, Kosuge is shrouded in obscurity. So while Kosuge's cedar trees aren't quite as huge and awe-inspiring as Togakushi's, the hike has enough of its own quirks to make it as much if not more rewarding than it's more famous partner's.
And you won't be battling any crowds at Kosuge. Our family went to hike up to Kosuge Okusha on a 3-day holiday weekend, and only came across 2 other parties during the entire outing.
The path itself is for the most part a staircase of stepping stones lined by the aforementioned cedars. Along the way, there's an idyllic arbor for resting, historical spots ('Famed samurai Uesugi Kenshin hid behind this rock') as well as spiritual ones, trailside waterfalls, birdseye views of the Chikuma River winding its way down the valley below, and so much more. The Inner Shrine itself is a fascinating structure built halfway into the hill and half on pillars supporting it as it juts out over the hillside.
Kosuge may not provide as much 'power' as Togakushi, but is charming in its own way. At 1.1 km long, the trail is a bit over half as long as Togakushi's but is quite a bit steeper (340m elevation gain compared with 180m for Togakushi). At our little 4 year old Misaki's pace, it took 1 hour to hike. The stepping stones were pretty slippery -- I wouldn't want to do the hike in rain or snow. And public transportation to the trailhead is non-existent -- car would be a lot easier.
So if you take a trip to Iiyama City, while enjoying the sights, food and onsen, I highly suggest an excursion to Kosuge!