On the eastern edge of Matsumoto City lies Utsukushigahara Heights (literally beautiful plateau). From here you can begin a short refreshing walk or a long adventure. Not far from the parking lot here is a peaceful meadow with grazing cows and lovely wild flowers, along with an old bell tower once used by those lost in the fog.
On a clear day the 360 degree view is breathtaking and worth a few pictures. One can see Fuji-san and Kitadake to the south, Hotaka and Yarigatake to the west, and Mt. Asama to the east. A short ways down the road you will also find a collection of funky sculptures looking out on Matsumoto and a gift shop selling interesting treats.
Utsukushigahara Heights is an 70-minute drive from Matsumoto JR train station or a 80-minute bus ride from Matsumoto bus terminal in front of the Matsumoto JR train station.
If you visit the Art Museum first by Utsukushigahara Kogen Art Museum Line bus, you can take a 30-minute hike to Utsukushi-no-tou (a small symbol tower). If you have time, go to the top of Utsukushigahara Kogen Plateau (Ougatou) by hiking 40 minutes more.