If you have to bookmark just one article in our entire website, this would be the one.
This is a guide to the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in each season.
This is one of the most exhaustive guides you will ever read. It is the only page on our website (and possibly on the internet) where you’ll find such expert information about the top Himalayan treks to do in each season — we have covered 6 seasons in this exhaustive guide.
We’re sharing this because we notice many trekkers timing their treks wrong. If you go on a trek in the wrong season, you’re bound to have a terrible (and sometimes dangerous) experience. Like this instance that our founder shares from 2012, when they went to Kashmir Great Lakes in mid-June and ended up having an unsuccessful trek.
If you time your trek right, however, you’ll do the trek of your life!
What you get when you choose the right trek + right season:
We’ve made this guide about the top 3 Himalayan Treks to do in each season keeping in mind that you’re a beginner and at moderate fitness levels. We’ve not included our very difficult treks in this list (we have added only two difficult treks that requires only good preparation but no technical skills).
Table of Contents:
The treks suggested here are a culmination of a decade long experience of guiding trekkers on their first Himalayan treks. We know what’s good for beginners, and what’s good in every season. So without further ado — here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in each season.
| 3 Best Spring Treks (March, April)
This is a time of the year when there’s still snow on all treks (till the end of April), and the greenery is just beginning to blossom. It is also a special time because Himalayan rhododendrons bloom at this time of the year.
Rhododendrons are what cherry blossoms are to Japan. The entire hillside comes alive in a sweep of colours! If you ask us, this is the most rewarding season for any beginner to go to the Himalayas. Treks are not too strenuous, and they’re incredibly visually rewarding!
Here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in Spring:
1. Deoriatal-Chandrashila — The trek with the best summit views of Uttarakhand
On most Himalayan treks, you usually see mountain ranges at a distance. But on the Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek you see them very close. It is not just a section of Himalayan ranges that you see. You see all the major summits of Western and Eastern Uttarakhand from the summit. By all, we mean all.
You see Mt Nanda Devi, the highest mountain in India. Then, you see Mt Trishul, the first 7,000 meter summit to be climbed by man, Mt Nanda Ghunti, Mt Kamet (the second highest summit in India), Mt Dunagiri, Mt Chaukhamba, Kedar Dome, Mt Kedarnath, Mt Thalaysagar, the Gangotri ranges, and more! It is a 270-degree view of all the tallest mountains in India.
Nowhere on a trek that is so easily approachable do you get to see all these summits so close.
The Deoriatal Chandrashila has another attraction in March and April. Amongst all our treks in Uttarakhand, the Deoriatal Chandrashila has the most variety of rhododendrons. It’s no surprise that it features high in the list of top 3 Himalayan treks. The entire hillside is on fire! It’s a sight that you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world. This is hands down our best rhododendron trek.
Explore the Deoriatal – Chandrashila Trek
2. Brahmatal — The trek with best views of Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti
This is our co-founder, Sandhya’s favourite trek. When you stand anywhere near the Brahmatal ridge, you get a riveting view of two of the most celebrated mountains in India — Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti. They are extremely close and right in front.
You also see the entire Roopkund trail laid out before you — literally a bird’s-eye view. If you don’t know about Roopkund, it is a trek to the mysterious lake at 16,000 feet, where human skeletons from the 9th century AD can still be found. The trek is unfortunately closed, due to government orders.
Moving on to Brahmatal, it is also the only trek that we have where you get to see two mountain lakes — Bekaltal and Brahmatal. Choose this if you want grand mountain views, superb forest experience, and the two mountain lakes. The snow can be here till the mid of April.
This is also a trail where you see blooming rhododendron forests in March, April. We highly recommend reading our co-founder’s Sandhya Chandrasekharayya’s account of the trek here.
Explore the Brahmatal Trek
3. Sandakphu — Where you see 4 of the tallest summits in the world
This is our trek with the biggest cultural experience. It’s a trek on the border of India and Nepal, constantly weaving in and out of the two countries (feels very international, we tell you!). You get a peek into what the Nepali trekking culture is like.
It also gives you views of four of the tallest summits in the world — Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse, Mt Makalu and Mt Kanchenjunga. No other trek gives you that.
Not many trekkers know this, but on this trek, you stay in tea houses for a few days, and you also get the Indiahikes camping experience for 2 days. It’s a great way to get both experiences of comfortable stay and camping in the wilderness. While you get snow on this trek till March end, it is not as much as our Uttarakhand or Himachal treks.
Explore the Sandkphu – Phalut Trek
| 3 Best Summer Treks (May, June)
Summer has traditionally been the most sought-after season to trek in. This is also the season for very high altitude trekking. Many of our summer treks climb up to around 15,000 ft. It’s one of the few seasons when these high altitude treks are accessible. High altitude treks come with the added thrill of altitude and adventure. You must capitalise on that.
Here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in Summer:
1. Buran Ghati — A grand buffet of India’s greatest treks
Buran Ghati is by far the most perfect trek we have seen — it has the best parts of India’s greatest treks stitched together in one trek. This trek has the prettiest forest sections, two of the most ancient villages on treks, unimaginably beautiful Dayara meadows, and the most thrilling pass crossing at 15,000 feet, where you rappel down a snow wall!
It must be the world’s highest rappelling point. It’s an incredible trek for its scenery. It’s no surprise that it’s a favourite at Indiahikes and is featuring high in the summer list of the top 3 Himalayan treks.
Explore the Buran Ghati Trek
2. Rupin Pass — A change in scenery at every turn
If there is a classic favourite trek of India, it has to be Rupin Pass. This trek is like an orchestra, building up momentum with surprises in scenery every hour or so. With every step, the trek throws up a new vista to see, new scenery to unfold. They come on you quite suddenly.
The surprises begin right from your first day of trekking. When, around 20 minutes into the trail, you see the Rupin river suddenly make an appearance, fanning out into a wide bed below you. From here, the trail takes you through hanging villages and then quite suddenly, it plunges into a deep gorge!
The trail then meanders through a sudden pine forest, glacial meadows, snow bridges, glacial valleys, snow fields and hundreds of waterfalls, including the famous Rupin waterfall! It culminates in a thrilling pass-crossing through a narrow snow gully. Climbing the echoing Rupin gully is a highlight. If you’re a fit trekker, then Rupin Pass is one of the best summer treks to do.
Explore the Rupin Pass Trek
3. Gaumukh – Tapovan — A trek to the true source of the river Ganga (and the base of Mt Shivling)
Gaumukh Tapovan is one of the oldest treks in the country. It is a trek that fascinates trekkers for multiple reasons.
The trek takes you to the true source of river Ganga — the Gaumukh glacier. The glacier is gigantic, towering over you, so high that you have to crane your neck to see its top. When you are standing in front of the mouth of the glacier, the magnitude and aura of where you are standing — the birthplace of the lifeline of our country — strikes you. The mouth of the glacier calves every now and then with giant blocks of ice, the size of cars, breaking away and falling down in a thunderous sound.
However, one of the biggest reasons why trekkers love this trek is that it takes you right up to the base of Mt Shivling, one of the most beautiful mountains in the Indian Himalayas. It stands alone, majestic, with its own towering pyramid. On a clear day when the golden sun sets on Mt Shivling, people kneel down and pray, such is its impact.
Explore the Gaumukh Tapovan Trek
| 3 Best Monsoon Treks (July, August, Mid-September)
Many trekkers think that monsoon rains block out all the Himalyan trails. They think all trails might be too slushy and rainy to trek. But that’s not true. It’s absolutely possible to trek in this season. You just have to know which treks to do. Read these pro-tips before going forward.
Here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in Monsoon:
1. Hampta Pass — One of the most dramatic crossover treks in the Himalayas
This trek is one of the most dramatic cross over treks that we have. The stark change in scenery between one side of the trek and the other is astounding. The drama begins with the first campsite, Jobra, which is at the edge of the forest. The next campsite Jwara is a wildflower meadow at the meeting point of a valley! Then there is fjord-like Balu Ka Ghera and the desert oasis of Shea Goru.
For a relatively short trek (4 days of trekking), it is chock-full of rapid changes in scenery. These rapid variations got Hampta Pass trek a place in the top 3 Himalayan treks in monsoon.
Then you have the Hampta Pass crossing, which is the cherry on top. You leave behind the lush Kullu valley and cross the pass to a different world below — the deserts of Lahaul. From the pass, you see the Lahaul valley and surrounding mountains in one wide panoramic sweep. This is one of the most incredible twists in landscapes you will see!
Explore the Hampta Pass Trek
2. Valley of Flowers — The grandest flower trek of India
Valley of Flowers is a legendary trek. The world knows of it! Many tales have been spun around this valley – usually about trekkers falling unconscious from the heavy scent of flowers on the valley floor. That might sound like an extravagant description, but you would find it difficult to disagree.
The moment you enter the valley, you have a sweeping view of its vast expanse covered in a layer of flowers. Flowers, leaves, buds of various shapes, sizes, colours all grow together here.
The blooming of these alpine flowers come in waves. The first set of wildflowers come in the beginning of monsoon in July, and then in August, and then changes in relatively drier September. No wonder this is one of India’s most coveted tourism spots.
Explore the Valley of Flowers Trek
3. Tarsar Marsar — Arguably the prettiest trek in India
Tarsar Marsar is arguably the prettiest trek in India. This is a title we do not give treks lightly. Especially when its formidable sister trek, Kashmir Great Lakes, is in the picture.
However, Tarsar Marsar is a trek where alpine lakes take a life of their own. It is not just the fact that you get to camp beside these royal blue, snow-fed lakes (you don’t get this camping chance even at KGL). Or the secluded nature of these campsites (a Godsend in today’s trekking scenario!).
You get to circumvent the entire perimeter of Tarsar and Sundersar, offering you multiple perspectives of the very same lake!
Explore the Tarsar Marsar Trek
| 3 Best Post-Monsoon Treks (Mid-September to Mid-October)
Just after monsoon, there’s a small window when our high altitude treks open up again (treks above 14,000 ft). This is a brilliant time to trek because the sky gets clear and sharp. It results in stunning views of mountains. It’s also a good chance for beginners to try out slightly tougher treks, as they become a notch easier without snow.
Here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do post-Monsoon:
1. Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal — A doorway to ancient Himalayan culture
Har Ki Dun is one of the oldest trekking trails in our country. What we’ve noticed is that those who haven’t trekked there don’t know much about it, and those who have been there fall in love with it!
This is a trek that’s high on culture. You trek through ancient villages, with wooden houses where people still live. The trail also is laced with mythological stories about the Pandavas taking the same trail to heaven. Culture aside, the trek is extremely beautiful. It cuts through lovely forests, ancient villages, superb grasslands, and finally gets into the terrific Har Ki Dun valley.
Getting into the narrow funnel of the valley with its sudden towering mountains is a delight. What we like even better is the return via Ruinsara Tal. It is a trek cutting through a great Rhododendron, oak and coniferous forest before opening up to another valley leading to the alpine lake of Ruinsara. The lake surrounded by grasslands and snow lined mountain slopes is a sight for the eye.
For us, the greatest moment is when we return back from the Ruinsara Tal via Devsu meadows. These large clearings are a hidden paradise that is virtually unknown to most trekkers. Tucked away inside the deep recess of the forests you don’t realise how beautiful and big they are until you are on them. For a moment you can be mistaken to think you are in a very siberian setting.
The Har-ki-Dun trek along with Ruinsara tal must be on every trekker’s bucket list.
Explore the Har Ki Dun Trek
2. Gidara Bugyal — Trekkers’ best kept secret
One of the most beautiful ridge walks in the Himalayas. Picture by Nitesh Kumar
Gidara Bugyal is an ancient, pristine meadow that is little known in trekking circles. It is one of the largest high altitude meadows in our country. It is larger than Dayara Bugyal. And larger than the twin meadows of Ali and Bedni Bugyal as well. It takes at least two days to traverse the entire Gidara Bugyal!
Gidara Bugyal is extremely secluded. There are very few people who have actually trekked in these grand meadows. Which is a pity, given that this is one of the most rewarding treks. Exploring every nook and corner of these splendid meadows takes time. Every undulating mound of grassland opens up to another with a completely different view.
There are long ridges to walk on — with sweeping grasslands on either side. Having said that, the Gidara Bugyal trek is not easy. It has steep ascents and descents, a ridge walk and long days. So you’ll need to train well to do this trek.
Explore the Gidara Bugyal Trek
3. Kedartal — Getting into the eye of the needle
This is perhaps the only other difficult trek we have included in our list, other than Goechala.The reason it makes it to our list is because it is the only one that takes you closest to the big mountains of Uttarakhand — especially of the Gangotri range. It is like getting into the eye of a needle.
When you do get there you are stunned by the 360 degree presence of towering mountains at finger distance. The trek climbs to the glacial Kedartal lake, which at 16,000 feet and is one of the highest alpine lakes you will trek to in our country.
It sits amidst a cauldron of big mountains – Mt Thalaysagar, Mt Bhrigupanth, Manda Parvat, Mt Jogin, Mt Gangotri. If you plan to do this trek, then prepare well. It climbs quickly to 16,000 feet. It’s meant only for the fittest of trekkers.
Explore the Kedartal Trek
| 3 Best Treks In Autumn (Mid-October to November)
This is our personal favourite season to trek in. For quite a few reasons. This is the season to see some mind-blowing colours in the mountains! It’s when all rain clouds disappear, leaving behind a squeaky clean sky with unimaginable views! Further, it marks the onset of winter, so there’s a slight wintery chill in the air. On some trails there are early snows too.
Here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in autumn:
1. Phulara Ridge — The greatest ridge trek in our country
Phulara Ridge is a rare trek. It is the only ridge trek in our list, apart from the Khopra Ridge trek in Nepal. A ridge trek connects one mountain top to another forming a long chain. It’s no surprise that Phulara Ridge is now one of our most sought-after autumn treks. The views from this trek are astounding, and they last for hours, especially because of the ridge walk.
Now, a ridge is a place where two sides of the mountain meet. So the walk on a ridge is almost like one on a knife edge, where there are just flanks of the mountain sloping down from either side of you. To have an entire’s day trek on a ridge is unparalleled.
The best part is that this trek is not too difficult, it’s suited perfectly for a beginner! So if you’re trekking in autumn, this is THE trek to do.
Explore the Phulara Ridge Trek
2. Goechala — A trek that takes you close to the world’s third highest mountain
The biggest reason to do the Goechala trek is the grand views of big mountains that you see. You don’t just see one summit — the Kanchenjunga — but 14 other big summits. That’s a lot for any trek — especially as close to the eyes as on the Goechala trek. It is no wonder that trekkers consider Goechala to be the closest to the big mountain treks of Nepal.
One of the biggest highlights of the Goechala trek is the sunrise seen on the Kanchenjunga range. Even though trekkers are not allowed all the way to the actual Goecha Pass, the view from View Point 1 and Dzongri is worth an arm and a leg!
Explore the Goechala Trek
3. Khopra Ridge Trek — An off-beat Nepal trek that takes you close to 22 Big Mountains
On the Khopra Ridge Trek you get stunning view of Mt Machapuchare. Picture by Krunal Patel
When it comes to trekking in Nepal, almost the whole world will tell you to trek to Annapurna Base Camp or Everest Base Camp. But we are telling you otherwise. If you’re going to Nepal to see the biggest mountains of the world, then Khopra Ridge is the real deal.
It’s another ridge walk special, but in Nepal, which gives you striking views of 22 big mountains of Nepal, including the Annapurna Massif, the Machapuchare Peak and Mt Dhaulagiri. On this trek seeing 8,000 meter summits at close range is like everyday business. In autumn, you get the clearest views of these mountains. Further on the climb to Khayar Lake at 15,000+ ft is for pure adventure.
There is also a secret phenomenon that happens on this trek that leaves trekkers speechless. And it happens twice, one better than the other. From the Muldai viewpoint and again after you return from the Khayar lake, a blanket of clouds flow in the evening descending down to the valley. As the golden sun sets on the eight-thousanders, the sun bounces off the clouds forming an ocean of golden cotton sea. It is a sight that stuns trekkers.
Explore the Khopra Ridge Trek
| 3 Best Treks In Winter (December, January, February)
Many people assume winter to be a short season lasting through December and maybe a little bit of January. But winter starts from December and lasts all the way till the end of February, and even stretches into the first two weeks of March.
This is the best time to trek and camp in snow, experience the adventure of staying in -5 and -10 degrees. It’s also one of the clearest seasons in the year, where you get astounding views of the mountains around, against a completely white backdrop. Time your trek well, and you’ll get to see the best of winter in the Himalayas!
Here are the top 3 Himalayan treks to do in Winter:
1. Kedarkantha — One of the finest summit climbs for beginners
Our list of Top 3 Himalayan treks to do is complete without Kedarkantha trek in it.
There are many reasons why it is a very popular trek to do in the Indian Himalayas. The most important of them is this — the summit climb.
The summit climb of Kedarkantha is a very rewarding one. Right from the base camp of the trek, the summit looms large. As you start your trek in the early hours of the morning and steadily climb up the steep slope, the world opens up around you.
The climb is not easy. The entire stretch is steadily steep. As you get closer to the summit, it gets tricky as well. But the big mountains of the upper Himalayas keep you company until you finally reach the summit.
Explore the Kedarkantha Trek
2. Kuari Pass — One of our most beautiful treks amidst the tallest summits of India
Irrespective of you being a seasoned trekker or a beginner the Kuari Pass is a trek you need to do. It is a must-do for the views of some of India’s most celebrated mountains – Mt Nanda Devi (25,673 feet) and Mt Dronagiri (23,182 feet) – in any season. In winter there is an added attraction.
The snow in its almost perfectly crafted forests. Snow flakes settled on the Oak leaves above a white carpeted forest floor takes you instantly to the land which would be Santa Claus’s envy.
Explore the Kuari Pass Trek
3. Dayara Bugyal — The most beautifully landscaped meadow of our country
The last trek I’m talking about today is the Dayara Bugyal Trek. At any time of the year, this is the trek I would recommend to all beginners. Dayara Bugyal has all the elements of a perfect Himalayan trek — superb forests, beautiful campsites, ancient villages, thrilling climbs to high points, wonderful mountain views and one of the best alpine meadows of Uttarakhand.
These meadows are completely blanketed in snow in winter. All of this in an easy-moderate trek — a gift we rarely see. In winter, the meadows and forest floor lie asleep under the powdery snow. This makes it an all-season trek. With so much going for it, Dayara Bugyal is the perfect trek to try out as a beginner or take your family along.
Explore the Dayara Bugyal Trek
Lastly, I will leave you with a summary of what you will get if you trek in these six different seasons.
|Spring (March, April)||The only time of the year when the winter snow still lingers, the green meadows start to sprout with wildflowers. Not to forget in many of our treks the Himalayan rhododendrons light up the hillside with fire!|
|Summer (May, Jun)||When the high adventure treks (above 14,000 ft) open up. This is especially a time for treks with most scenic variety and thrills.|
|Monsoon (Jul, Aug, Mid-Sep)||The best season to experience grasslands, flowers and lakes.|
|Post-Monsoon (Mid-Sep to Mid-Oct)||A second chance to do the high adventure treks, as a bonus, this time they’re a notch easier, with lesser snow and crisper skies.|
|Autumn (Mid-Oct to Nov)||THE best time for the clearest mountain views. No other time will give you such squeaky clean views of the Himalayas|
|Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb)||If you want to experience snow this is when you time your trek! But not all treks are the same in winter. You need to be careful about your choice.|
If you know of any other treks that would make our Top 3 treks list, let us know in the comments section below.