With world-class trekking, yoga and wildlife safaris, Uttarakhand is more about things you can experience than sights you can see.
Best in Uttarakhand Treks
There's no better way to experience the sheer, astonishing beauty and power of the Himalayas than to get up close and trek among this world-famous mountain range. Whether you're seeking a short walk or a full-scale trekking expedition, the Uttarakhand Himalaya offer many fantastic trails.
Gaumukh Glacier Trek among the Land of the Gods along a rocky valley trail to a glacier that's the source of the Ganges.
Valley of Flowers Experience the kaleidoscopic panoramas of hundreds of flowers at full bloom with a snow-capped mountain backdrop.
Kuari Pass Trek One of India's finest treks taking you through a mind-blowing Himalayan landscape, including close-ups of Nanda Devi (7816m).
Tungnath & Chandrisilla Trek Accessible four-hour trek to the highest Shiva temple in the world and unforgettable Himalayan views.
Kedarnath Join the convoy of Hindu pilgrims on a trek up to this holy char dham temple sitting below towering Himalayan peaks.
Roopkund Trek A unique multiday trek through alpine grasslands and forests to a glacial high-altitude lake famed for its mysterious scattering of 9th-century skeletons.
Milam Glacier One for serious trekkers is this eight-day expedition along an ancient, remote Tibetan trade route leading to an epic glacier.
There are many sublime trekking routes in Uttarakhand. For more information, contact GMVN in Dehra Dun or local trekking outfitters.
While in mid-2018 the Uttarakhand High Court issued a ban for all camping in the bugyals (alpine meadows), this is likely to be a temporary measure in order to protect this pristine wilderness from unscrupulous trekking operators. Regardless, all the treks were still running, but be aware some may have slightly shorter, alternative routes to what we've listed (in order to allow camping just off the bugyals). Check for the latest updates before setting out.
Har-ki-Dun Valley Trek
The wonderfully remote Har-ki-Dun Valley (3510m), within Govind Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park, is a botanical paradise criss-crossed by glacial streams, surrounded by pristine forests and snowy peaks. You might be lucky enough to glimpse the elusive snow leopard above 3500m.
The three-day, 38km trail to Har-ki-Dun begins at Sankri (also called Saur), where the best place to stay is the new Wild Orchid Inn. There are very basic GMVN tourist bungalows at Sankri and along the way in the villages of Taluka and Osla, but in the valley itself you have to stay in the Forest Rest House or bring a tent. You can cut a day off the hike by taking a share jeep to Taluka and starting from there. A side trip to Jamdar Glacier takes another day. The trek can be busy during June and October.
A couple of reputable guides work out of Sankri – Chain Singh and Bhagat Singh – who run the Har Ki Dun Protection & Mountaineering Association. In addition to outfitting trips to Har-ki-dun, they can take you to the unique villages of the Rupin and Supin Valleys. They also lead treks from Sankri to the Sangla (Baspa) Valley in Himachal Pradesh and along other beautiful routes. Make arrangements in advance by email if possible – these guys are busy!
To get to Sankri, take a direct bus from Gandhi Chowk in Mussoorie or from Dehra Dun's Mussoorie Bus Stand (₹350) – or hop a series of buses and shared or private jeeps until you get there.
Kuari Pass Trek
Also known as the Curzon Trail (though Lord Curzon’s party abandoned its attempt on the pass following an attack of wild bees), the trek over the Kuari Pass (3640m) was popular in the Raj era. It’s still one of Uttarakhand’s finest and most accessible treks, affording breathtaking views of the snow-clad peaks around Nanda Devi – India’s second-highest mountain, at 7816m – while passing through the outer sanctuary of Nanda Devi Sanctuary. The trailhead is at Auli and the 75km trek to Ghat past lakes, waterfalls, forests, meadows and small villages takes five days, though it’s possible to do a shorter version that finishes in Tapovan in three days. A tent, guide, permit and your own food supplies are necessary, all of which can be organised easily in Joshimath.
Milam Glacier Trek
This challenging eight-day, 118km trek to the massive Milam Glacier (3450m) is reached along an ancient trade route to Tibet that was closed in 1962 following the war between India and China. It passes through magnificent rugged country to the east of Nanda Devi (7816m) and along the sometimes spectacular gorges of the river, Gori Ganga. You can also take a popular but tough side trip to Nanda Devi East base camp, adding another 32km or three days.
Free permits (passport required) are available from the District Magistrate in Munsyari. You will also need a tent and your own food supplies, as villages on the route may be deserted. The base for this excursion is the spectacularly located village of Munsyari, where a guide, cook and porters can be hired and package treks can be arranged through Nanda Devi Tour N Trek. Otherwise KMVN Parvat Tours in Nainital can organise all-inclusive eight-day treks (per day from ₹2200). These are best arranged at KMVN but the KMVN Rest House in Munsyari should be able to set you up too.
Less travelled but equally (or more) stunning treks include the Begini/Dunagiri route north of Joshimath and the Panchachuli East/Chota Kailash route, north of Dharchula.
Pindari Glacier Trek
This six-day, 94km trek passes through truly virgin country that’s inhabited by only a few shepherds. It offers wonderful views of Nanda Kot (6860m) and Nanda Khat (6611m) on the southern rim of Nanda Devi Sanctuary. The 3km-long, 365m-wide Pindari Glacier is at 3353m, so take it easy to avoid altitude sickness. Permits aren’t needed but bring your passport.
The trek begins and finishes at Loharket (1700m), a village 36km north of Bageshwar. Guides and porters can be organised easily there, or in the preceding village of Song (1400m), or you can organise package treks through companies in Almora. KMVN operates all-inclusive eight-day treks starting from Song for ₹8000 per person, staying at government rest houses. KMVN dorms (mattress on the floor ₹200), basic guesthouses or dhaba huts (₹100 to ₹300) are dotted along the route and food is available. KMVN tours are best arranged through KVMN Parvat Tours in Nainital.
Buses (₹60, two hours) or share jeeps (₹100, 1½ hours) run between Song and Bageshwar. Private taxis between Bageshwar and Song/Loharket cost around ₹2000.