The Land of Gods, Uttarakhand, is one of the most exciting adventure getaways into the Indian Himalayas. Home to some of the tallest mountains not only in India but also the world, like Mt. Nanda Devi, the Himalayas of Uttarakhand are truly a trekker’s paradise. Here, you are immersed in fantastic and dramatic vistas of towering peaks, lush valleys, wild rivers and sprawling glaciers, along with dense alpine forests and meadows.
While trekking in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand, you will enjoy the majestic views of India’s highest peak completely within the Indian borders, Mt. Nanda Devi, along with various other peaks like Kamet, Sunanda Devi, Abi Gamin, Mana Peak, etc. You’ll also witness the magnificent glory of the glacial-fed rivers of Ganga and Yamuna cutting through the landscapes.
Additionally, two-thirds of the state is covered in lush forests of oak, pine and rhododendrons surrounded by sparkling amphitheatres of the Himalayan peaks, and many patches of scented meadows that double as serene campsites on your Uttarakhand trek. These forests are home to some rare flora and fauna.
While trekking in Uttarakhand, you are exposed to all of this and much more, making the Himalayas of Uttarakhand one of the best trekking destinations in the country. These treks range from easy to difficult, here are some of the best treks in Uttarakhand based on the same:
Uttarakhand has a number of easy treks for beginners who want to experience what trekking in the Himalayas feel like. These treks usually have a short itinerary and take you to the lower reaches of the Himalayas while offering splendid views and trails. Some of these treks can even be done by families and children. Here are the top easy treks in Uttarakhand:
This trek to Valley of Flowers is one of the most serene and top trekking places in Uttarakhand that takes you to the gorgeous valley in the Nanda Devi National Park. During the months from June to September, the valley gets blanketed in thousands of colourful wildflowers of varying hues and shades. You are treated with marvellous views of the lush valley sitting in contrast to the soaring peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas, and many streams and waterfalls gracing the landscape.
Considered one of the most scenic treks in the Indian Himalayas and one of the best winter treks in Uttarakhand, this Kedarkantha trek takes you to the summit of Kedarkantha through the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary. You’ll trek through the fragrant forests of pine, maple and rhododendron to reach the summit. And once at the summit, you will enjoy marvellous views of the Rupin and Buran ranges along with the peaks of Swargarohini, Kalanag and Bandarpoonch, and the lush Har Ki Dun Valley too.
The Chopta Chandrashila trek cuts through the lush forests of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary to reach the Chandrashila peak at 13,000 feet. It is a relatively easy trail that is accessible year-round and en route, you pass Chopta, the Switzerland of India, and Deoriatal, a lake steeped in the mythos. Once at the summit, you get to see the towering peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, Chaukhamba and many more Himalayan mountains.
The Nag Tibba trek The Nag Tibba trek is a splendid adventure that takes you to the abode of the Snake God or Nag Devta, as the locals call it. This is one of the best treks in Uttarakhand that takes you to an altitude of 10,000 feet, offering stunning views of the Bandarpoonch Range and the peaks of Kedarkantha, Chanabang, Black Peak, Srikanth along with the shimmering lights of Mussoorie in the distance. You also get to trek through the forests of misty oak, scarlet rhododendrons and the purple bauhinia trees.
The easy trek to Sar Pass is one of the most popular treks in the Shivalik Range of the Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh. This terrific trek takes you through the dense forests of pine and rhododendrons to an altitude of 14,000 feet, making it a great introduction into the high-altitude Himalayan trekking. This trek offers magnificent views of the Himalayan peaks, the lush Parvati Valley, and many sparkling streams and waterfalls along the way. This, paired with the temperate climate and quaint villages bustling with rich culture make the experience of the trek marvellous.
Uttarakhand has many moderate treks too that have moderately challenging treks that are suitable for experienced trekkers, but fit beginners can also attempt these trails. High fitness levels are required for these treks. Here are some of the top moderate level treks in Uttarakhand:
Located in the Chamoli District of Uttarakhand, on the south of the Indo-Tibetan border and on the western edge of the Nanda Devi Bio-reserve is the high altitude Kuari Pass. On this moderate trek to Kuari Pass, you cross green meadows and alpine forests - all in the company of the frosted Himalayan Peaks like Kamet, Mana Peak, Abl Gamin, along with the Chaukhamba Mountain Range.
Har Ki Dun, the Valley of Gods, is located in the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and is one of the least explored regions of the Garhwal Himalayan Region. This trek to Har Ki Dun is one of the best summer treks in Uttarakhand. The scenic trail is located at the base of Fateh Parvat and cuts through alpine meadows and dense pine forests. En route, you are treated to the magnificent views of Bandarpoonch and Swargarohini peaks. All of this comes together to give you a complete Himalayan experience.
This gorgeous Brahmatal trek takes you to the high altitude lake of Brahmatal that is fed by a nearby glacier. The lake is located at an altitude of 12,500 feet offering magnificent views of various 7000-metre peaks like Mt. Trishul, Mt. Nanda Ghunti, etc. The trek to the lake follows under the shade of oak and rhododendron forests, and you also get to spend a night in cosy tents at Bekaltal, another alpine lake en route to Brahmatal.
After easy and moderate treks, there are some glorious trails that should only be attempted by experienced trekkers who have done prior Himalayan treks. These treks usually have steep ascents, challenging trail and harsh weather conditions. But the views these treks provide more than make up for the effort. Here are some of the top challenging treks in Uttarakhand:
The Kedartal trek takes you to an altitude of 15,580 feet to the pristine glacial lake located in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand. The trail is challenging, cutting through pine and birch forests, high altitude pastures and glaciers. All the while, offering some terrific views of various Himalayan mountains like Thalayasagar, Bhrigupanth, Manda Parvat, Jogin and Gangotri.
This challenging trek takes you around the Gangotri Glacier to Gaumukh, the mouth of the river that nourished an entire civilization. The trail consists of boulder ridden pats and ruthless climate, beyond the treeline and offers breathtaking views of glaciers, Mt. Shivling and the twin peaks of Meru Mountain.
This difficult trek takes you to the high altitude Bali Pass, at 16,207 feet,from the lush Har Ki Dun Valley to Yamunotri. This splendid trek lets you enjoy some breathtaking views of Bandarpoonch, Kalanag and Swargarohini peaks. En route, you pass the conflux of Tons and Ruinsara Rivers, and the Ruinsara Valley and scented meadows of Devsu Thach. You also get to spend a night at Ruinsara Tal under the cover of the starry sky.
There are numerous trekking places in Uttarakhand, some of which are open during one season and others during another season. And the Himalayas experience drastic seasons, each different from the other, so it entirely depends on what you want to experience while trekking in Uttarakhand.
If you want to escape the city heat and head into the cooler climes of the mountains, enjoying the cool breeze and chilly nights under starry skies, then the best time to go is during the summer season. During this season, you’ll find snow at the upper reaches of the Himalayas too.
However, if you want to explore the magical landscape of the Himalayan valleys in its full glory, with wildflowers blanketing the meadows and dense forests bustling with flora and fauna, then the best time for you to go trekking is from June to September, during the monsoon season.
And if you want to enjoy dramatic views of sparkling snowfields, frosted mountain faces, and clear views of the Himalayan ranges stretching towards the horizon, then you should go during the winter season. This season lasts from November to February. Uttarakhand has some of the best trekking places in the Himalayas, making it a perfect destination for winter treks.
Uttarakhand, though lying at the foothills of the Himalayas, is well-connected to the rest of India via road, rail and air. There are two airports in Uttarakhand: The Pantnagar Airport in the Kumaon Region and the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. These airports are connected to most major cities of the country by regular flights.
A part from this, the state also has various railway stations that act as major halts for many express trains hailing from the major cities of the country. There are railway stations at Haridwar, Dehradun, Kathgodam, Rudrapur, Tanakpur and Pantnagar.
But the best form of connectivity in Uttarakhand is road as it has a rich network of roads, unhampered by the mountainous topography that connects it to most major cities of Northern India via state and national highways. There are regular bus services running towards Uttarakhand from these cities.
Most of the treks in Uttarakhand begin in the major tourist spots like Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital or Kathgodam. If you can’t find a direct flight/bus/train to any of these places, then you can reach the nearest city and catch a local bus/taxi to your starting point easily.
For trekking in Uttarakhand, you need to wear a quick-dry t-shirt and trek pants along with sunglasses and a cap. If you’re going during the winter season or to a high-altitude trek, then you also need to wear thermal inners, down and fleece jacket, synthetic gloves and neck gaiters. Additionally, it is recommended that you carry a raincoat/poncho since the climate in the Himalayas can be unpredictable.
For your Uttarakhand trek, first, you need a sturdy pair of trekking shoes that are comfortable and well-broken in. Then, you need a strong backpack, all your personal essentials like sanitizer, toothbrush, etc. and a personal first aid kit.
The tour operator will also give you a packing list once you book your package, make sure to follow it thoroughly to ensure a safe and comfortable trek.
The preparation and fitness criteria depend on the level of difficulty of the trek you’re booking. If you are going for an easy trek, then you need basic fitness levels and no prior experience of trekking in the Himalayas. You can begin preparing for these treks a few weeks prior by starting a light workout routine.
However, if you’re going for a moderate grade trek then the prior experience of trekking in the Himalayas is recommended but these treks can also be done by beginners with good fitness levels. In this case, you need to start preparing a few weeks prior by starting a workout routine like cycling, running, swimming, etc.And if you are going for one of the challenging treks in Uttarakhand, then you need prior experience of trekking in the Himalayas. For these treks, you can start a workout routine a few months prior by focusing on cardio exercises like cycling, running, swimming, etc. along with some strength training.
Some of India’s top snow treks can be found in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand. Some of the top snow treks in Uttarakhand are Kedarkantha trek, Chopta and Chandrashila trek, Har Ki Dun trek, etc.
Altitude sickness usually sets in above 8,000 feet due to low air pressure and oxygen. Symptoms of altitude sickness include shortness of breath, nausea, headache, etc. To avoid altitude sickness, you need to spend a good amount of time acclimatization. All the packages are designed with acclimatization in mind.
If you do feel the symptoms once you start trekking, you need to stop ascending immediately and rest, and if these symptoms don’t improve, then you need to descend as soon as possible to a lower altitude.
Additionally, Diamox can help with acclimatization, but it is recommended that you check with your doctor before consuming it.
While trekking in Uttarakhand, you are treated to massive amphitheatres of the Himalayas that include the Garhwal Himalayas, Rupin and Buran mountain ranges, and some of the tallest mountains of the world. You’ll get to see Nanda Devi, India’s highest mountain completely within India, along with the peaks of Kalanag, Bandarpoonch, Trishul, Kamet, Mana, Thalayasagar, etc.