Himachal Treks – 5 Most Spectacular Hikes

Updated on December 3, 2020

This section of the Himalayas is definitely not one to be missed and to help you choose which trek would be best for you, we have information on our top 5 – from easier one to two day hikes, to strenuous treks that cover 62.1 miles; there is a Himachal trek for everyone.

See India's overall best hikes for a complete list of hiking trails.

Himachal Treks Overview

Himachal Pradesh is a state in northern India well known for being home to scenic mountain villages and having a strong Tibetan presence.

As the area is in the Himalayas, it is little wonder that there are a variety of hikes and treks exploring the mountains of Himachal. 

It is for this reason that tourism is a major contributor to the state’s economy, as many people come visit the area to explore the beautiful surroundings.

Topography

Himachal is located in the western part of the Himalayas, with a large majority of the area situated near the Dhauladhar Range.

The area can be divided into three zones, namely the outer Himalayas (Shivaliks), the lesser Himalayas and Greater Himalayas. 

As the region is so mountainous, it is home to many well-known peaks and passes, such as Kinnaur Kailash Peak, which has an altitude of 21 325ft and is home to one of the toughest treks in India, the Charang La Pass trek.

The Dhauladhar range is part of the lesser Himalayan range, which runs parallel to the greater Himalayan mountains.

Due to their near vertical sides, the Dhauladhar Mountains are attempted by experienced mountaineers and trekkers, as the ascent is difficult from any side. 

Wildlife and Plants

The climate in the area varies between semi arctic to semi tropical, and it is for this reason that roughly 64 percent of the area is covered by forest.

These forests can be classified as Coniferous Forest, Alpine Pastures, Rhododendron Scrub Forests and Moist Temperate Deciduous Forest among others.

The area is also home to a variety of animal species, such as musk deer, brown bear and the snow leopard.

This leopard is both reclusive and vulnerable (status changed to vulnerable from endangered), so spotting one of these animals is incredibly lucky, as these big cats are generally found at altitudes of 9 800ft to 14 000ft, in high and rugged mountains.

Hiking

Himachal is a hikers and mountaineers dream. Being such a mountainous area there is little shortage of spectacular treks and amazing adventures.

There are a variety of epic and difficult hikes, many of which span over multiple days. If you are attempting something more strenuous it is important that you are well prepared, especially if it is your first time.

Correct hiking preparation takes mental and physical training, and it is important that your body is in good physical shape before you attempt long alpine hikes.

Starting off easier and giving your body time to adjust is critical, as is being informed on your routes and staying hydrated along the way.

You can choose to hike in the area with a guide, a group or even solo. You can also choose to hire a porter, if you are new to the area this may be a good idea, as the porters can provide help when it is needed, as well as knowing the routes very well.

Himachal Treks Quick Facts

  • Himachal Pradesh is home to the world’s highest cricket ground, being 8,018 ft above sea level.
  • Not only this, but the region is also home to the highest polling booth and post office.
  • The area is India’s second biggest producer of fruit.
  • The highest mountain peak in the Himachal area is Reo Purgyil. The peak rises 22 362ft above sea level.
  • Well known for its dangerous roads, Manali-Leh Road and Kinnaur Roads, are considered to be two of the most dangerous in India.
  • Himachal is also home to India’s first voter, Shyam Saran Negi, who cast a vote in the 1951 elections and everyone since then.

Top 5 Himachal Treks

1. Indrahar Pass Trek

  • Area: Dhauladhar, Himachal Pradesh
  • Permit: You can choose to do this hike as organised by a tour group
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 27.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 14 517ft
  • Days/Hours: 1 day, 10-12 hours
  • Best Time to Hike: May-October

Route Description

Indrahar is a pass in the Dhauladhar mountain range of Himalayas. The pass is at an altitude of 14 517ft above sea level, close to the town of Dharamshala.

The hike is a spectacular trek through awe-inspiring Himalayan ranges and you will be exposed to beautiful lakes, gorges and forest along the way.

The trek is considered to be one of the easier to moderate hikes in Himachal Pradesh. Beginning in McLeodganj, the trek makes its way to Triund, and this first bit is generally relatively easy.

From here you will journey to Lahesh Cave via Laka Got. The natural rock shelter that is Lahesh Cave is definitely a highlight of the trip.

The following day you will hike up Indrahar pass, this is probably the most technical part of the hike, with roughly 400m steep (1 312ft) climbing. However, the incredible view of the Pir Panjal Range makes it worthwhile.

Accommodation

The night prior and post the trek can be spent in hotels in McLeodganj and Chamba. During the trek you will stay in tents.

Trek Top Tips

  • You can hike with or without a guide, the choice is yours and comes down to your preference.
  • Although the water from glacial streams is clean, it is always advisable to boil water for purification purposes.
  • The last place to get food and water (with certainty) is Triund, so keep this in mind when planning your hike.
  • The pass may be covered in snow, and in this case trekking poles may be a good idea.

2. Triund Trek

Himachal India
  • Area: Dhauladhar, Himachal Pradesh
  • Permit: No
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 9 350ft
  • Days/Hours: 5 - 6 hours
  • Best Time to Go: March to June, however, the trek is accessible throughout the year with the acceptation of January and February, when heavy snowfall may cut off some sections

Route Description

This is probably one of the easiest Himachal treks, being under 5.6 miles and taking roughly 5 hours. However, this doesn’t make the route any less spectacular, and it is known for being one of the most scenic.

Beginning in Dharamkot or McLeod Ganj, the hike offers amazing views of the Dhauladhar ranges and the Kangra valley, and throughout the day, from sunrise, sunset and even moonrise, amazing panoramic views are offered.

Although a short hike, there will be several steep climbs along the way, however the first 3.1 miles are easy and it is only hereafter that the steepness increases. The final km is nicknamed “22 curves” as it consists of 22 curves enroute before reaching Triund.

Another exciting aspect of the undulating path is that it passes through forests of rhododendron and oak trees. The trek finishes in Bhagsu Village. As it is short and well-marked it is not necessary to use a guide for this trek.

Accommodation

You can choose to stay in a hotel or pitch camp at McLeod Ganj. You can choose to do the hike in a single day or overnight in Triund, where you can either camp or stay in the guest house if you don’t want to.

Trek Top Tips

  • Pack light, as this is one of the easiest and shortest hikes you won’t need much more than a rain jacket, phone, snacks and water in a small day pack. (if you are doing it in a day).
  • If you want to buy snacks buy them in McLeod Ganj as they are cheaper here.
  • Remember to wear proper hiking shoes, you will be especially grateful on the descent.

3. Pin Parvati Trek

Pin Parvati India

Photo by lakshit seth

  • Area: Himachal Pradesh
  • Permit: Necessary forest and camping permits may be involved, so it is a good idea to check with the organises before embarking
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 62.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 17 450ft
  • Days/Hours: 11 Days
  • Best Time to Go: July to September

Route Description

One of the more challenging hikes, the Pin Parvati trek requires excellent trekking skills and technique. The trek should only be attempted by experienced hikers as there are a few sections of the hike that are very dangerous, such as the narrow trail with hardly any foot holds that runs over the Parvati river.

In case of emergency, evacuation is also very difficult as the trails are too narrow to carry a stretcher, this is particularly worrying if someone suffers from AMS and needs medical attention quickly.

Beginning in Barsheni village in the Kullu valley, the trek connects the Parvato valley (Kullu side) with the Pin valley (Spiti side). The treks rugged mountains and high altitudes makes for a tricky climb.

When attempting the Pin Parvati Pass itself (around day 6), you will hike from Pin Parvati base camp to up the pass and back down to the base camp.

The pass is tough because of the altitude, however the view of both the Pin valley and Parvati Valley makes the climb worth it.

Accommodation

You will camp most nights on the trek.

Trek Top Tips

  • The trail should not be attempted by those who are new trekking, prior experience at high altitude is essential.
  • It is advisable not to do the hike too quickly, the harsh terrain, long distance and altitude gains make altitude sickness and fatigue problems common.
  • It is recommended to include at least two buffer days in your itinerary, these can be used as acclimatization or rest days. Sometimes poor weather may delay you, and it’s also for this reason that buffer days are a good idea.
  • Weather can change very quickly, and rain can make the rivers swell to the point of washing away the bridges crossing them.

4. Beas Kund Trek

Beas Kund India

Photo by trek trails

  • Area: Near Manali
  • Permit: Organised treks will include trekking permits and forest camping charges
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 29.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 12 139ft
  • Days/Hours: 3 - 4 days
  • Best Time to Go: May - June, September - November

Route Description

Beas Kund is a high altitude, alpine lake and the trail there begins in Solang Valley, which is known for skiing and paragliding. When passing into the Solang valley the trail enters a pine forest surrounded by mountains.

The trail goes via Dhundi and Bakarthach, and from Bakarthach you can trek to Beas Kund and back.

The beautiful lake is the origin of the River Beas as well as the base camp for numerous summit peaks. After returning to Bakarthach you begin making your way back, ending in the Solang valley again.

Accommodation

All night enroute will be spent in tents.

Trek Top Tips

  • It is advisable to carry all your water as there is guaranteed water supply.
  • If you have access to clean, fresh water along the way it is advisable to fill up your containers.
  • Wear good hiking boots with ankle support as you will need grip on the rocky hillside.
  • The trek is suitable for both experts and novices alike.

5. Hampta Pass Trek

Yosemite Pohono Trail
  • Area: Near Manali
  • Permit: Organisers will include trekking permits in their packages
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 16.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 14,035 ft
  • Days/Hours: 5 - 6 days
  • Best Time to Go: May - June, August - September

Route Description

Also an easier Himachal trek, the Hampta pass is an unusual pass that allows hikers to cross between Kullu valley and Lahual valley. The trek climbs from the lush Kullu valley, up to an overhang on the mountains.

From this overhang one can see the barren Lahual valley, which is a contrast to the green Jawa meadows in the Kullu valley.

The variation of scenery on this trail is pretty epic and is one of the routes biggest attractions. From green grassy meadows, serene forests and barren valleys.

On the day that you cross the Hampton pass you will come across glaciers, and if you are hiking in early summer the area by Deo Tibba peak may be covered in snow.

The decent is slightly more difficult that the climb up, and you will follow a zigzag path until you reach the valley below.

Ending at Chandra tal, the hike is classified as moderately difficult and therefore won’t be one that will put too much strain on your body, however you will have to be aware of altitude sickness, as the trek is at such high elevation levels.

Accommodation

You will stay in tents on the duration of the hike.

Trek Top Tips

  • AMS is a risk so it is important to always stay hydrated and beware of your body to catch any symptoms early.
  • Proper hiking shoes with ankle support are a key item of gear, especially with the day that summits the Hampton pass
  • Trekking poles are also a good idea, as they will make hiking through snow easier.

Recommended Guidebook

If you are looking for a guide book or a travel guide on the area, both RBS Visitors Guide India - Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Travel Guide and the Lonely Planet Trekking in the Indian Himalaya provide information on treks in the area, as well as Himachal’s culture and places of interest.

Travel Insurance

If an accident should occur that requires medical assistance and evacuation you will want proper hiking insurance that will cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment.

Medical teams and Rangers are always on duty to assist with medical emergencies at Yosemite.

This article on travel and hiking insurance proves great information on what type of insurance you need, as well as provides an easy quote calculator from a leading travel operator. 

Check out the World Nomads calculator for a quick calculation of the cost of travel insurance for your trip to the States.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a reservation to go on Himachal hikes?

When is the best time to visit the Himachal area?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

Are the Himachal hikes difficult?

What gear do I need?

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