The Ultimate Guide to Uttarakhand’s Trekking Trails
Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Uttarakhand is a trekker’s paradise. With its towering peaks, lush green valleys, sparkling rivers, and cascading waterfalls, this north Indian state offers a plethora of trekking opportunities for adventure enthusiasts. From easy trails for beginners to challenging treks for seasoned hikers, there is something for everyone in Uttarakhand. In this ultimate guide, we will take you through some of the best trekking trails in Uttarakhand.
1. Roopkund Trek
Roopkund Trek is one of the most popular and challenging treks in Uttarakhand. This 8-day trek takes you to the famous Roopkund Lake, also known as the Skeleton Lake. The trek starts from a small village named Lohajung, which is at an altitude of 7,700 ft. From there, the trail passes through picturesque villages like Didina, Ali Bugyal, and Bedni Bugyal. The trek takes trekkers through dense forests of rhododendrons, oaks, and deodars, which bloom with vibrant colors in spring. The forests are home to several species of birds and animals like musk deer, bharal, and black bear. The highlight of the trek is the Roopkund Lake, which is at an altitude of 16,499 ft. The lake is situated in a crater-like formation and is surrounded by rocky terrain. The skeletal remains of humans found at the edge of the lake are believed to be of pilgrims who died due to a hailstorm or an epidemic around 800 AD. The mystery of the Skeleton Lake attracts thousands of trekkers every year. The best time to go for this trek is from May to June and September to November.
2. Valley of Flowers Trek
Valley of Flowers Trek is a 6-day trek that takes you through the picturesque valley of flowers in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand dotted with cascading waterfalls, and the snow-capped Himalayan peaks in the backdrop, the Valley of Flowers trek is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. The valley is home to a wide variety of alpine flowers. The trek starts from Govindghat, which is easily accessible from Haridwar or Dehradun. After a scenic drive, you will reach Govindghat, which is the starting point of the trek. From here, the trek goes through the lush green forests of the Nanda Devi National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including the elusive snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, and a number of bird species. The best time to do this trek is from June to October.
3. Kedarkantha Trek
Kedarkantha Trek is a 6-day trek to the summit of the Kedarkantha peak. Located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, the trek passes through dense forests, scenic meadows, and snow-clad peaks, making it a perfect getaway for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers. The trek starts from the small village of Sankri and goes through the dense pine forests of the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to a variety of wildlife. The trail is well-marked, and there are several rest stops and campsites along the way. The summit offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas and is a popular spot for camping. The Kedarkantha trek is unique in that it is a winter trek. The best time to do the trek is from December to February when the entire trail is covered in snow, giving it a magical and ethereal feel. Apart from the natural beauty, the Kedarkantha trek is also a cultural experience. The trek takes you through several quaint villages where you can interact with the locals and learn about their way of life. The locals are warm and hospitable, and they will welcome you with open arms.
4. Nag Tibba Trek
Nag Tibba Trek is a 2-day trek that takes you to the summit of the Nag Tibba peak. Nag Tibba, which means “Serpent’s Peak,” is a beautiful trek that offers breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains, dense forests, and the beautiful valleys of the Garhwal region. It is a perfect trek for beginners and nature lovers who want to explore the natural beauty of the Himalayas. The trek starts from Pantwari and takes you through the dense forests of oak and rhododendron, meadows, and small streams before reaching the summit. The climb to the summit is not very technical, but it can be challenging due to the steep terrain. The highlight of the Nag Tibba trek is the summit climb. The summit offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, including the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The view from the summit is truly mesmerizing and is worth all the effort. The best time to do this trek is from October to March.
5. Har Ki Dun Trek
Har Ki Dun Trek is a 7-day trek which is a beautiful and popular trek located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, India. The trek offers a unique combination of natural beauty, adventure, and spirituality, making it a popular destination for trekkers and pilgrims alike The trek starts from the small village of Sankri and the trail goes through dense forests of pine, deodar, and rhododendron trees and small streams before reaching the valley. Apart from the natural beauty, the Har Ki Dun trek is also a spiritual experience. The trek takes you through several ancient temples and shrines, including the famous Duryodhana Temple, which is believed to be the site of the famous battle between the Kauravas and the Pandavas in the Mahabharata epic.
The best time to do the Har Ki Dun trek is from April to June and September to November. During this time, the weather is pleasant, and the entire trail is covered in blooming flowers and lush greenery. The autumn season is also a great time to do the trek, as the entire valley is covered in a beautiful blanket of red, orange, and yellow leaves.
6. Dodital Trek
Dodital Trek is a 5-day scenic trek located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The trek goes through lush green forests, alpine meadows, and crystal clear lakes, offering stunning views of the surrounding peaks. The trek is named after the Dodital Lake, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ganesha. The trek starts from the small village of Sangam Chatti and goes through dense forests of oak, pine, and deodar trees. The highlight of the Dodital trek is the Dodital Lake itself. The lake is known for its crystal clear waters and serene surroundings. The lake homes several species of fish which makes it a popular spot for fishing buffs. The best time to do the Dodital trek is from April to June and September to November.
7. Tungnath and Chandrashila Trek
Tungnath and Chandrashila Trek is a 4-day trek that takes you to the summit of the Chandrashila peak. It is a popular trek located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and is named after the Tungnath temple, which is one of the highest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the Chandrashila peak, which is the highest point of the trek. The trek starts from Chopta and takes you through the dense forests of oak and rhododendron, meadows, and small streams before reaching the summit. The summit gives a fanciful panoramic view of the Himalayas. The trek also includes a visit to the Tungnath Temple. The best time to do the Tungnath and Chandrashila trek is from April to June and September to November.
8. Kuari Pass Trek
Kuari Pass Trek is a 6-day trek that takes you to the Kuari Pass, also known as the Lord Curzon Trail. It is located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The trek is famous for its stunning views of the Himalayan peaks, including Nanda Devi, Kamet, Dronagiri, and Trishul. The trek starts from Joshimath and goes through several small villages and remote settlements, giving you a glimpse of the local culture and way of life. As you gain altitude, the trail takes you through dense forests of oak, rhododendron, and deodar trees before reaching the pass. The trek takes you through several ancient temples and shrines, including the famous Badrinath temple, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The trek also includes a visit to the beautiful Auli, which is a popular ski resort in Uttarakhand. The best time to do this trek is from April to June and September to November.
9. Pindari Glacier Trek
Pindari Glacier Trek is a 7-day trek located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The trek is named after the Pindari Glacier, which is one of the most reachable glaciers in the Indian Himalayas. The trek takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Himalayas, including dense forests, picturesque villages, and snow-capped peaks. The trek starts from the small town of Loharkhet, which is easily accessible from Kathgodam. The glacier which is located at an altitude of 12,300 feet is surrounded by several snow-capped peaks, including Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Maiktoli. The trail goes through the famous Kedar Temple.The best time to do this trek is from April to June and September to November.
10. Nanda Devi Trek
Nanda Devi Trek is a 11-day trek that takes you to the Nanda Devi National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and to the base camp of Nanda Devi, the second-highest peak in India and the 23rd highest peak in the world. It is a challenging trek located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The trek starts from the small town of Munsiyari. The highlight of the Nanda Devi Trek is the base camp, which is located at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The base camp offers stunning views of the Nanda Devi peak, which is surrounded by several other peaks, including Nanda Kot, Trishul, and Panchchuli. The climb to the base camp is quite challenging, and it requires good level of fitness and acclimatization to the high altitude. The best time to do the Nanda Devi Trek is from May to June and September to October.
Tips for Trekking in Uttarakhand:
- Acclimatize: It is important to acclimatize yourself before starting a trek in Uttarakhand, especially if you are coming from a low altitude. Take a day or two to rest and get used to the altitude before starting the trek.
- Stay Hydrated: It is important to stay hydrated while trekking in Uttarakhand, especially at higher altitudes. Carry enough water and drink frequently.
- Dress in layers: The weather in Uttarakhand can be unpredictable, and it is important to dress in layers. Carry warm clothes, rain gear, and a hat.
- Carry Snacks: Carry enough snacks to keep you energized throughout the trek. Dry fruits, chocolates, and energy bars are good options.
- Hire a Guide: It is advisable to hire a guide while trekking in Uttarakhand. A guide can help you navigate through the trails and provide valuable information about the local culture and customs.
In conclusion, Uttarakhand offers some of the best trekking opportunities in India. With its stunning landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and rich cultural heritage, it is a trekker’s paradise. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker, there is a trek in Uttarakhand that is perfect for you. Just make sure to follow the tips mentioned above and embark on a journey of a lifetime!