Some of the most difficult treks in India are also long Himalayan treks, made more challenging by the duration, the climate, or the location. This list spans treks in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu Kashmir. Most long-duration treks in India are not recommended for beginners because they involve long hours of trekking each day, traversing some extreme landscapes, and camping in the wild.
How to prepare for long treks in India
Long treks in India will expose you to steep climbs, rocky patches, cold weather, warm days, and changes in altitude. You should be fit and in good health before you undertake a long trek. While you can prepare for all of the above, you can’t predict how your body will react to the altitude. However, making sure you’re well-rested and hydrated can go a long way. Read our blog on How to Prepare for High Altitude Treks.
What to pack for long treks in India
Your operator will provide you with a comprehensive list telling you what to carry, depending on the location and the weather. The most important pieces of gear are your shoes, your jacket, and your backpack. Apart from that, however, you’ll have to take appropriate protective layers, warm layers, and a hat and gloves to cover extremities. Here’s a list of What to Pack for Long Treks like the Chadar trek.
Here’s our list of top long treks in India.
1. Chadar trek
The Chadar trek is a long trek that is quite hard, mostly because of the incredibly low temperatures, and the skill required to trek on the frozen Zanskar river. In the summer, this raging river offers ferocious rapids for those looking for whitewater rafting. But in winter, the river freezes over, and when the roads are covered in snow, the river is the only access route for locals. You’ll trek between the soaring walls of the river valley, carefully negotiating your way over the ice and looking at the bubbles that are frozen underneath. You’ll see waterfalls that have frozen over in mid-fall, and drink hot tea in ancient caves with walls darkened by thousands of campfires. This long Himalayan trek gives you a once-in-a-lifetime experience of Ladakh trekking and is one of the most difficult treks in India. This long Himalayan trek can be done over 5-15 days.
2. Stok Kangri trek
The Stok Kangri trek is a difficult and long Himalayan trek in India, thanks to the high altitude it starts at. The trek starts in the stunning town of Leh and involves some rock-climbing as you get closer to the peak. The early section of the trek takes you through beautiful mountain scenery, and you'll camp at gorgeous campsites. From base camp the climb becomes steep and the air thins, posing a thrilling challenge for trekkers. While it involves some rock-climbing, you don’t need to have any technical mountaineering skills to get to this altitude, which makes it one of the more accessible long treks in India. This long Himalayan trek can be done over 10-12 days.
3. Pin Parvati trek
The Pin Parvati Pass trek is a long trek in India and is meant only for those with experience. Located at a height of 17,450 feet, the Pin Parvati Pass is the only link between the green Parvati Valley of Kullu and the dry, arid Pin Valley in Spiti. On this long Himalayan trek, you will start from Manali, and trek through the green valleys of Himachal Pradesh, through fruit orchards, blossoming wildflowers, and sparkling rivers and streams. Once you reach Pin Parvati Pass, you'll see the brown and grey rocky landscape of the Spiti valley. For almost 10 days, you’ll be far away from civilization, crossing wide glaciers, climbing steep slopes, and trekking through thick forests. This makes the Pin Parvati Pass trek one of the harder long treks in India. This long Himalayan trek can be done over 10-12 days.
4. Goechala and Dzongri trek
The Goechala trek is undoubtedly one of the most difficult long treks in India. There are a couple of days when the trekking can get quite steep, especially when the weather is harsh and merciless. You’ll climb from about 5,800 feet to a dizzying 16,000 feet over 10 days, into remote and stark landscapes. You’ll trek through forests of ancient oak and rhododendron trees, across alpine meadows with great open views, and to the hill station of Darjeeling. As you near the Goechala Pass, you’ll have to navigate vast glacial moraines, and will have some fun on these challenging sections. This long Himalayan trek can be done over 10-12 days.
5. Rupin Pass trek
One of the lesser-known most difficult treks in India, the Rupin Pass trail involves a steep ascent to Rupin Pass at 15,380 feet. The trail offers a variety of terrain to trek on and moves from Uttarakhand into Himachal Pradesh. You’ll pass quaint mountain villages, towering cliffs and dense forests, and walk along the banks of the icy blue Rupin river, through pine-scented forests, and across rock-hewn ridges. This long Himalayan trek is a blend of medium to easy gradients, with some steep climbs over ridges. This is one of the more difficult treks in India and is recommended for trekkers with prior experience. The best time to visit is from May to June and then from September to October. This long Himalayan trek can be done over 6-9 days.
6. Kuari Pass and Pangarchula trek
The Kuari Pass trek is a long Himalayan trek and one of the few trekking destinations that is open in the winter. It’s also a popular end-of-the-year trek for those looking for a snowy challenge. This long trek is moderately easy, except for the summit to Pangarchulla peak, which stands tall at 15,419 feet and puts your climbing muscles to the test. One of the top treks in Uttarakhand, this long Himalayan trek takes you through endless green meadows, alpine forests, and past towering Himalayan peaks with enchanting panoramic views of Nanda Devi, the Chaukhamba Range, Mana peak, and Kamet peak. The best season to visit is in summer from April to June and then from September to November.
7. Har Ki Dun
The name Har ki Dun translates to Valley of the Gods, and you’ll see why when you go. The trail winds through the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary, past meadows, pine forests, and rivers. You’ll walk over rickety wooden bridges, see shepherds tending their woolly flocks, and camp in the valley, where wildflowers blossom around your tent.
8. Gomukh Tapovan
This trek leads you to the source of the holy Ganges river. The melting Gangotri glacier turns into the gushing Ganges at Gaumukh. The trail takes you over the boulder-strewn slopes, with scenic campsites and snowy views.
9. Kashmir Great Lakes
Known as one of the most gorgeous treks in India, the Great Lakes of Kashmir trek is also a long one. You’ll spend 8-9 days in the pristine valleys and meadows of Kashmir, trekking to the most famous lakes of the region. Each day opens up vistas more beautiful than the last, with snowy peaks, clear water lakes, and forests of maple and pine.
10. Tarsar Marsar
Venture deep into the valleys of Kashmir to see the twin lakes of Tarsar and Marsar. You’ll trek over the sweet green grass, setting up camp beside sparkling lakes, spend days rambling over meadows under open blue skies, and admire the peaks all around.
11. Markha Valley trek
Set off into Ladakh, the magical kingdom of yaks, monasteries, and high-altitude deserts. You’ll be trekking along the Markha River, exploring an oases in the middle of this arid landscape. The night skies are velvety blue and star-studded, and days are clear and gorgeous. You’ll trek through this sprawling land, meeting the tough but friendly people, and exploring high passes, riverside camps, and ancient monasteries.
12. Borasu Pass
This 7-8 day trek gives you a chance to see both Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. You’ll trek past rivers and streams, stopping at tiny villages, through pine and walnut forests, and through meadows filled with orchids and wildflowers. There are also some steep stretches that will require you to scramble over rocks and boulders.
13. Tirthan Valley trek
The Tirthan Valley trek takes you into a remote valley almost untouched by humans, to the source of the Tirthan River. It is a long trek of about 9 days and involves some days of long days of trekking. You’ll get to explore cool pine forests, secret waterfalls and sparkling streams, and will camp alongside the river.