Snow-capped peaks, lush green meadows, crystal clear streams, tall pine trees, and the sunbathing your path in a golden glow characterise the Kedarkantha trek. That’s how it feels, like magic.
While most people associate trekking with summer, the number of people venturing into the world of winter trekking, or snow trekking as some prefer to call it, is steadily growing. The Kedarkantha trek has emerged as a clear favourite among adventure seekers when it comes to winter treks.
The first sentence of this article only scratches the surface of the reasons for this. But first, some context for this stunning Himalayan region:
- It is part of the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand’s Western Garhwal region.
- This trekking trail is 20 kilometres long and 3,810 metres above sea level (about 12,500 feet).
- The best time to visit is between November and February, with the last snowfall occurring as late as April.
- The nearest major city, Dehradun, is approximately 220 kilometres from Sankri, the trek’s starting point. Dehradun also has a railway station in the city centre, and Jolly Grant Airport is about 22 kilometres southeast of the city.
The Kedarkantha trek begins in Sankri, a charming little town in the foothills at 6,400 feet elevation. The first major stop is Jadu Ka Talab, which is located approximately 9,100 feet above sea level and takes approximately 5 hours to reach on foot from Sankri. This first section gives a taste of the beauty that awaits the trekkers ahead. It features the well-known Kedarkantha pine forests and maple trees, as well as lovely meadows and streams that line the trail. Jadu Ka Talab is the first campsite on this trek, where you can spend the night and rest up for the next stretch the next day.
The journey to Kedarkantha’s base, at 11,250 feet and 4.5 kilometres, follows. This is where you’ll notice the luxurious and ravishing 360-degree views of snow-capped peaks all around you for the first time. The campsite at Kedarkantha base is one of the most beautiful on any trek in India, and it’s an ideal place to pitch your tent, make some Maggi, and sleep for the night.
The next and final destination is the 12,500-foot-high Kedarkantha peak. This is the only slightly difficult section of the trek, but it is easily completed if you are moderately fit.
The journey returns to the ground after reaching the summit, with Horegaon Camp as the first stop. It offers another enticing campsite and can be used as an overnight stop. The following day, you can return to Sankri through the dense pine forests that captivated your heart when you first began this trek.
What distinguishes the Kedarkantha Trek?
- To begin with, it is a moderately easy hike that is also one of the most scenics. It simply provides a great return on investment for most trekkers, especially beginners (in terms of effort and skill required).
- This trek will take you to 13 different peaks. That is an impressive number, especially when they are all covered in snow and provide stunning views of the sun reflecting off of them. The spectacular Himalayan peaks you’ll see on this trek include Swargarohini, Black Peak, and Bandarpoonch.
- It is relatively easier to reach because it is close to Dehradun, which has excellent road, rail, and air connectivity. Furthermore, the drive from Dehradun to Sankri is an experience in and of itself, keeping you glued to your window seat the entire time.
- The Kedarkantha trek offers an unusual number of wide and open clearings that are not found on most other treks. As a result, the campsites on this trek are said to be among the most heavenly on the planet. These clearings house Jadu Ka Talab, Kedarkantha base, and other campsites, all nestled among the snow and sunlight peaks.
- There are charming little villages along the way with friendly residents. You can learn a lot about the local Garhwal folk culture and the way of life of the Himalayan people.
Tips for Kedarkantha Trekking
If you decide to embark on this incredible journey, there are a few things you should keep in mind (cough cough, you totally should). This trek to and from Dehradun should take about 6 days in total, but you can always tailor the itinerary to your preferences.
After Sankri, you won’t have mobile network reception, but with the breathtaking views and natural beauty all around you, all you’ll need in your phone is that incredible camera to snap scores of photos for your Instagram feed and Snapchat stories!
While the trek is not particularly difficult, a reasonable level of physical fitness is always beneficial. The altitude rises significantly when you reach the peak, so plan accordingly. Carrying a sufficient amount of water is always a good idea and a good trekking habit.