With its breathtaking landscape encompassing towering mountain peaks and verdant valleys, Himachal Pradesh offers a myriad of scenic trails for novice and seasoned trekkers alike. Here’s our guide to the most spectacular mountain treks in this ‘Abode of Snow’.
Whichever base camp you choose, you will be greeted with stunning scenery of snow-capped mountain peaks and pristine beauty of rhododendron, deodar and oak forests along the way. The ascent begins with an easy stroll and after three miles you will come across steep ascents in some places, which makes it a moderate trek. The entire stretch is often referred as the 22 curves because there are 22 sharp curves on the way. It takes approximately four hours on one side to complete this trek. Travellers can stay in one of the hotels at McLeod Ganj, or check in at the rest house of the Forest Department in Triund, which can be booked at Dharamshala. Another option is pitching camp at McLeod Ganj.
Best time: March to June and September-November (Some areas of the trek route are closed in January and February due to snowfall).
Pin Parvati Pass
Located at a dizzying elevation of 5,320.8-meters, the Pin Parvati Pass trek is one of the most challenging in Himachal, but with a plethora of stunning vistas on the way up, it reduces the exertion. This trek connects Pin Valley that is situated in Spiti and Parvati valley located in Kullu. The thrilling adventure lasts 12-15 days, and has travelers trekking through rugged mountains, dense forests, scenic waterfalls and glaciers. Reaching the base camp (Spiti River in Kaza) requires a bumpy ride from Manali.
You need to stay in Kaza for a day of acclimatization, as you will be trekking through some soaring mountain ranges. The trail follows through white-washed Mudh village, Pin Valley National Park, where you can catch a glimpse of ibex and snow leopard; Mantalai marshlands, grasslands of Odi Thatch, pulley bridge at Tunda Bhuj and hot water springs at Kheerganga, which are said to have medicinal value. You can relax in the hot water springs, which is much-needed after a tough Himalayan trek. This trek is recommended for seasoned trekkers only! Travellers can pitch in a camp at various points en route.
Best time: July- September
Hampta Pass Trek
Abundant nature and remote culture are the two major highlights of the Hampta Pass trek. You will come across verdant valleys of Kullu, rugged mountains of Lahaul, wildflower fields of Jwara, sand ground of Balu Ka Ghera and the lush Shea Goru valley, along this six-day trek and will eventually reach an altitude of 4,277.8 meters. Reaching the trailhead, which is Jobra, requires you to drive from Manali or Prini and the route involves 42 hairpin bends. The spectacular vistas of the Kullu Valley en route make the drive worthwhile. The trek ends at Chhatru, and along the way there are many camping spots where you can pitch a tent. This trek is possible for novices and people with decent fitness levels.
Best time: May-June; August –September
Shepherd Trail Gaddi Trek
This trail beckons nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and seasoned trekkers. The trek begins from Kullu Valley (Manali) and culminates at Kangra Valley (Dharamshala). Along the way, you will cross the three high-altitude snow-laden peaks of Kalihani (4,785.3 meters), Thamsar (3,500 meters) and Khanpari (3,600 meters), shepherd hamlets, cattle farms, dense forests and glacial lake. There are also plenty of fruit orchards and wild animals along the way. Scaling this trek takes around 18 days and is extremely challenging, requiring a high level of fitness. There will be constant change in altitude that will leave you exhausted, but the spectacular sights of Western Himalayas, lush valleys and picturesque villages along the way are more than worth the effort.
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Best time: September & October
Bhabha Pass Trek
Starting from Kafnu (a tiny hamlet in Kinnaur) and culminating in Spiti Valley, the Bhabha Pass Trek is spectacular, yet one of the most demanding mountain treks. However, the reward is divine beauty of Himalayan peaks and abundant natural beauty. The seven-day trek will get you up to an altitude of 5,260 meters and pass through steep slopes, gushing streams, glacial beds and narrow gorges. The trail traverses through mighty Hansbeshan Peak, Pin Parvati Pass, villages of Baldar, Mudh and Kaza, and several Buddhist monasteries – Ki, Tabo and Kungri. The last leg of the trek takes you through Kunzum La Pass and the scenic Chandra Tal Lake.
Best time: September & October
Beas Kund Trek
This trek starts from Old Manali and passes through ancient villages of Burua and Shanag that are completely cut from the modern world. It then heads up to the verdant green meadows of Solang Valley, Dundi and Bakartach towards the Beas Kund, which is a tiny alpine lake with azure water. The trek is relatively easy, thus can be done by novice or pro trekker alike. It takes around two days to complete and trekkers can stay overnight in a tent at Solang Valley.
Best time: Mid-May – October
Sar Pass Trek
At an elevation of 4,220 meters, the Sar Pass is located in the picturesque Parvati Valley. It is a popular trek known for its spectacular scenery that changes at every few miles. The trek begins from Kasol, a backpacker’s heaven, and traverses through the trails of Grahan, Padri, Min Thatch, Nagaru and Barshani village. This trek is mildly difficult and requires a good level of fitness. It takes about five days to complete.
Best time: May – October
Indrahar Pass Trek
This is another spectacular mountain trek through the picturesque beauty of the Himalayan ranges. It begins from McLeod Ganj and climbs up the scenic Triund, further venturing into the Lavesh Cave and finally ending at Indrahar Pass, which is located at an altitude of 4,300 meters. Trekkers can camp at the Lavesh Camp before ascending for Indrahar. Once you reach the pass, you’ll be greeted with panoramic shots of Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal mountain ranges. It’s a moderate trek which takes approximately five to six days to reach the pass.
Best time: September-October
Indrahar Pass, Dhar Alangari, Himachal Pradesh, India
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