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Best Hiking Trails in India

Overview

India has spectacular mountain scenery, particularly in the northern Himalaya region, but also in the lower mountains in the south of the country.  In the north, discover treks such as Markha Valley, Roopkund and Valley of Flowers in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.  In the south, the NIlgiri Mountains in Tamil Nadu or the mountains around Munnar in Kerala provide plenty of hiking opportunities.  Many people hike in the mountains in Maharashtra and Karnataka.  There are also the lesser known regions of Mizoram and Meghalaya to explore. The best months to hike in India vary, read on for more information on where and when to go hiking in India. 

Capital: New Delhi

When To Hike in India?

Year Round: Depending on the region and the altitude, optimal months vary.  Filter in the map to see best months for each region.
Varies
Varies: Cold, snowy, rainy
Climate: Alpine climate (cool summers and cold, snowy winters) in the north, tropical (wet and dry seasons) in the south. Monsoon in summer but you don’t see the monsoon in the Kashmir/Ladakh area. In general the higher altitude treks are good in July-Aug and lower altitude in May-June and Sept-Oct.

Accessibility of Hiking

Medium: There are a lot of organized treks that occur in the north.  In other areas, fairly easy to go independently but trails may not be well-marked. 

Transportation required: Public transit to start of many treks; other areas require vehicle access

Where to stay in India for hiking:

  • Tamil Nadu – Ooty
  • Kerala – Munnar; Adivaram
  • Karnataka – Kunjila
  • Maharashtra – Bhandardara
  • Mizoram – Murlen; Aiduzawl
  • Meghalaya – Charapunjee
  • Sikkim – Yuksom, Gangtok,
  • West Bengal – Darjeeling
  • Uttarakhand – Rishikesh
  • Himachal Pradesh – Shimla, Manali, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala
  • Ladakh – Leh
  • Jammu & Kashmir – Srinigar

Top Places to Hike in India

The main areas for trekking are in the far north where the Himalaya and its subranges can be found. The northeastern states (such as Meghalaya and Mizoram) have mountains but are a distinct part of India and much less visited by tourists. In the south, there are lower mountains to explore. Highest Mountain: Kangchengjunga (or Kangchengdzonga) (8586 m) in the Himalaya. The map shows various hiking areas by state.

Filter out hiking places of India by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Tamil Nadu

  • Dec – Mar
  • Nilgiri mountains – rise to over 2000 m; Ooty is a good base; serious treks here require permits 
  • Palani Hills

Kerala 

  • Dec – Apr
  • Munnar – hiking amongst tea plantations
  • Cardamom Hills
  • Eravikulam National Park – home of Anamudi, Kerala’s highest peak (2695 m)
  • Chembra Peak

Karnataka

  • Nov – Apr
  • Kuduremukha Range

Maharashtra

Mizoram

  • Dec – Mar
  • Mountains, feels more southeast Asian, borders Myanmar
  • Murlen National Park

Meghalaya

  • Nov – Mar
  • Not a lot of info on hiking in this state
  • Around Charapunjee 
  • David Scott trek 

Arunachal Pradesh

  • Nov – Apr
  • Mountainous but difficult to access (abuts Tibet)
  • Namadhapa National Park

Sikkim

  • Apr – May; Oct
  • Tiny, mountainous state was its own mountain kingdom until 1975
  • Kangchengdzonga National Park – home of the world’s third highest mountain
  • Goecha La trek
  • Dzongri Trek
  • Yuksom good base; others too

West Bengal

  • March – May; Oct
  • The northern part of this state is tucked between Nepal & Bhutan – and is south of Sikkim
  • Darjeeling – trekking around here
  • Hill stations
  • Singalila Ridge Trek – most popular place here

Uttarakhand

Himachal Pradesh

  • May – June; Sept – Oct
  • Hippie hangouts 
  • Shimla good base/main city; Manali backpacker base; McLeod Ganj
  • Great Himalayan National Park – www.greathimalyannationalpark.org 
  • Parvati Valley; Pin Valley National Park 
  • Dharamsala – home of Dalai Lama and Tibet government in exile

Ladakh

  • Jul – Sept
  • Leh is a good base, lots of hiking from here
  • Markha Valley – one of the most popular treks in the area – located within Hemis National Park 

Jammu & Kashmir

  • Jul – Sept
  • Unlike other parts of India, the summer months don’t bring the monsoon rains to Kashmir so they’re the ideal time to hike, the other months of the year sees snow on the trails
  • Srinigar (main city of Kashmir) surrounded by mountains; lots of hikes/treks can be arranged from here
  • Dachigam National Park
  • Great Lakes Trek – very popular
  • Kishtwar National Park – www.kishtwar.nic.in

India's Long Distance Trails

India has many fantastic multi-day treks.  Some of the better known ones are listed below:

  • Great Himalaya Trail – epic trail that goes through the Himalayan mountains
  • Markha Valley Trek – 65 km trek
  • Great Lakes Trek – 74 km trek
  • Valley of Flowers Trek – 20 km trek

India's Walking & Hiking Resources

India Hiking Books:

  • Trekking in the Indian Himalaya, by Gary Weare, 2009, Lonely Planet Publications
  • Guide to Trekking in the Western Himalayas, by Depi Chaudhry, 2009, HarperCollins India
  • Trekking in the Himalaya, Cicerone Guide, by Kev Reynolds, 2013, Cicerone Press
  • The Trails Less Travelled: Trekking the Himachal Himalayas, by Avay Shukla and Siddhartha Banerjee, 2015, Niyogi Books
  • Trekking in Ladakh: Eight Adventurous Trekking Routes, Cicerone Guide, by Radek Kucharski, 2015, Cicerone Press
  • Lonely Planet India, by Joe Bindloss, Michael Benanav, Lindsay Brown, 2022, Lonely Planet Publications – good resource 
  • Indian Himalaya Footprint Handbook: Includes Corbett National Park, Darjeeling, Leh, Sikkim, by Vanessa Betts and Victoria McCulloch, 2014, Footprint Travel Guides

 

India Hiking Associations/Clubs:  

 

Best Hiking Trails in India:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist offices.  There are quite a few travel blogs related to hiking in India:

  • Markha Valley Trek – Ladakh
  • Great Lakes – Jammu & Kashmir
  • Roopkund Trek – Uttarakhand
  • Pin Parvati Pass – Himachal Pradesh
  • Valley of Flowers – Uttaranchal
  • Goecha-La Trek – Sikkim
  • Khaliya Top – Uttarakhand
  • Tadiandamol Peak – Karnataka

Easy Hiking Trails in India:

  • Chembra Peak – Kerala
  • Triund Trek – Himachal Pradesh
  • Sinhagad Fort

 

India Hiking Websites:

 

India Weather Website:

  • India Meteorological Department – IMD 

 

India Official Tourism Organizations:

 

India Hiking Apps: 

 

India Hiking Maps:

What Else To Do

  • Festivals
  • Architecture
  • Temples (such as the Golden Temple and so many more)
  • Food
  • Ashrams
  • Too many things to list

Other Important Points

  • Different names used for mountains (ie. Kangchengjunga/Kangchengdzonga)
  • Beware of security situation in Kashmir, Northeast states
  • With Nepal restricting solo trekking as of April 2023, India may see a huge increase in visitors who are against the new restrictions