Why Kedarkantha is a super snow trek even in March/April
What most people don’t realise is in India snow falls mostly in January, February and March. This snow stays on the ground until the middle of April. A different magic unfolds when this snow starts to melt. Fed with the snow melt the meadows and clearings turn a vibrant green. In late March and early April, while the upper slopes of Kedarkantha are still under deep snow, the rest of the trek is in green – a green that is fresh and full of life. This combination makes it a super trek to do in late March until mid April. That’s why we call it a late winter trek.
For the rest of the reasons why it is good winter trek our 8 reasons below still hold good.
8 Reasons why Kedarkantha makes a good winter trek
1. First is the chance to experience snow. You will probably come across it just as you cross the 10,000 feet mark, lying on the forest floor in between the pine trees. When you reach the meadows, it is likely to be a large blanket of white around you in every direction.
2. Most pretty campsites in Himalayas. Not all treks can boast of the beauty of its campsite like the Kedarkantha trek can. Each of its campsites are unique in their beauty. The Juda-Ka-Talab campsite sits in a clearing surrounded by giant pine trees, theKedarkantha Base campsite is on an open meadow with snow peaks all around, the Hargaon camp is again in a clearing of pines and oaks. It is almost as if each one of them competes with each other in its beautiful setting.
3. Best drive in Himalayas. The drive to Kedarkanta takes you through Mussoorie, Nowgaon, Purola, Mori and Naitwar. It is a remote route so exquisitely beautiful that it remains till date one of the most beautiful drives in the Himalayas.
4. Walking on a carpet of brown leaves. The Kedarkanta trek starts in a dense pine forest quite unlike most other treks that start in villages and fields. The trail is always covered by a carpet of leaves walking on which is a delight.
5. Snow peaks all around. The Kedarkanta meadow impresses you the moment you step on it. The 360 degree view of famous mountain summits around you is jaw dropping.
6. Chance to make lasting friendships. Each group has a maximum member size of 15-20. On the Kedarkanta trek, meeting such a diverse group of men and women from all over the country gives you a chance to make friendship that lasts a lifetime.
7. Maximise your holidays. The trek starts in the last week of December. The trek is designed in such a way that it is sandwiched between two weekends. Surprisingly, from any part of India you can do the Kedarkantha trek without taking too many leaves -- in fact only 5 days.
8. The trek costs Rs 6950 per person. From our base camp at Sankri and back. It includes everything. There is no other extra cost. The pick up and drop cost from Dehradun to Sankri and return is roughly Rs 1700 per participant (to be paid directly to the transporter). A direct bus from Dehradun to Sankri is also available in case you want to save some money.
Kedarkantha Trek Details
A quiet, quick trek in the Eastern most fringes of Uttarakhand, three things stand out about the Kedarkantha summit trek. The first is the pristine, almost virgin forest that a trekker walks through on the first two days of the trek -- the magnificent forest of Pines, Cyprus, Fir, intermingled with Maples, Rhododendrons and Oak is a bio diversity rarely seen.
Just when a trekker has settled down to walking in the shades of 80 feet tall trees, the second thing about the trek stands out: the trail breaks out to an open meadow that pales everything into comparison. All around, in every visible direction, are the great Himalayan snow capped peaks. The splendor of the view is so breathtaking that camping on the top is not an option but a foregone conclusion. In the night when millions of stars light up the snow peaks heaven indeed comes to earth.
The third fascinating thing about the Kedarkantha trek is not in the trek but in the drive to the base of the trek. The journey through lush green landscape and pine forests from Nowgaon to Sankri is perhaps the best Himalayas can offer. It is a journey that will remain etched forever in your mind.
How to get to the base of the trek -- Sankri
If you are using the public transport, take the 6 am bus out of Dehradun to Sankri. It is a private bus that leaves just outside the Dehradun railway station on Gandhi Road.
If you are taking a hired taxi, the route is pretty straightforward. First head to Mussoorie, then move down to Yamuna Bridge, via Kempty falls. Then follow the Yamuna on your left until you reach Damta and further on to Naugaon. Cross the Yamuna at Naugaon and head towards Purola. The route immediately turns scenic, with pine trees overlooking the road. At Purola break for lunch. From Purola the route gets more mesmerizing with the road climbing up and descending through thick pine forests until you get to Mori along the Tons river. (5 kms out of Purola try to locate the south face of the Kedarkantha peak on your left. The highest peak, it is not difficult to spot.) From Mori follow the Tons to Naitwar, again through some breathtaking mountain scenery. At Naitwar, the road branches off to the right along the Supin until you get to Sankri an hour later.
Sankri is a small pretty village. A few dhabas and some shops make Sankri. Stay at the GMVN guest house slightly up the road. Most trekkers get to Sankri in the evening which is a good time to lookout for the sun setting on the Greater Himalayan mountain ranges. The peaks of Swargarohini shimmer in the evening sun standing tall over the ridges beyond Sankri.
Day 1: Sankri (6,400 ft) to Juda-ka-Talab (9,100 ft). Trek 4 kms. Time: 4½ hours.
Take the tarred road out of Sankri until you come to an extension of the Sankri village that’s called Sor. Cross the village and the road takes a wide curve. 7-8 minutes later look for a trail to your right that climbs sharply – it is next to a stream. This is the trail that leads to Kedarkantha. If in doubt, wait for a local to pass by and ask for directions. The trail gets into the pine forest and starts to climb sharply until you reach a ridge ten minutes later. On the ridge the trail evens out and widens for almost the rest of the day.
An hour later look for a small wooden bridge on your right. It leads to a deserted nursery inside the fields. Immediately after, another small cement bridge spans a dry stream (water only in the monsoon). A hut that belongs to a shepherd is visible beyond the bridge about 40-50 meters higher on the trail. You are a quarter of your way to Juda-ka-Talab here.
The wide trail continues to climb gradually, gaining altitude and always in the shades of the trees. Catch the sound of a stream flowing on your left but not visible to your eye. Fifteen minutes later arrive at the last of your wooden bridges – this one the largest. The sound of the stream that you have been hearing catches up with you here. This is your last water point so fill up your bottles to last until Juda-ka-Talab another thousand and a half feet higher and 2½ hrs further.
Don’t take the trail that goes over the bridge but continue on the trail that runs to your left – it is clearly visible and forks clearly at the stream. The magic of the Kedarkantha trail starts to get better as you climb higher from here.
As your footsteps crunch over the brown carpet of pine and maple leaves, spot Himalayan Langurs swinging from tree to tree with great dexterity. The large animals are shy and move away quickly from your vicinity. It is not unusual to spot martens, hares and boars as you gradually gain altitude at this spot. Look for telltale signs of digging on the ground – and you know boars have been around.
Half an hour later, in a large grove of Maple trees, look for a large trunk of a tree fallen on the ground. Step around the tree to arrive at your first open clearing of the trek. A dark forest beckons you mysteriously from the southern edge of the clearing. This is a good spot to rest for a while. At 8,100 feet you are half way into your trek to Juda-Ka-Talab here.
Carry on the trail through the clearing to re-enter the sparse pine and maple forest on its northern edge. A couple of clear streams run through the trail as you step out of the clearing. In winter they are frozen but in other seasons they present a good opportunity to fill up once more.
The trail switches back sharply half an hour later and climbs quickly through thick pines to another clearing with a dilapidated hut. Below, on your left is a shallow pond. Here the trail veers back over the outer edges of the pond heading towards the tree line on the ridge.
The trail climbs rapidly around a fallen tree stump, turns sharp left again and climbs quickly through dense oaks finally emerging out in the open over a rising mound to greet you with the spectacular camp site of Juda-Ka-Talab.
Juda-Ka-Talab is almost too perfect in its setting as a campsite. On your left is the large lake that was once two lakes but now conjoined as one, and on your right is the thick edges of oak and pine forest. The forest is so dense that light hardly seeps through it. The campsite is a series of gentle undulating mounds that form the clearing and campsite of Juda-Ka-Talab. High above on your left is the ridge line through which the afternoon light filters in. The area is entirely in shadows of some of the densest pine forest you will ever see.
Day 2: Juda-ka-Talab (9,100 ft) to Kedarkantha Base (11,250 ft) Trek 4 kms. Time: 4 hours.
The trail out of Juda-Ka-Talab is clearly visible and straight forward. The trail rises to a ridge at the edge of the lake. At the ridge take a sharp left and dive into the dense pine forest climbing higher. Avoid the trail that goes ahead and down (that is another trail to Sankri used by shepherds).
The trail enters the darkest part of the pine forest. The climb winds through the trunks of the giant trees and hugging the ridge climbs quickly to a clearing half an hour later.
The trail veers further left sticking to the slope directly above Juda Ka Talab, though the lake is not visible. Climbing swiftly the trail pops out at a ridge in another half hour, gaining about 800 feet over Juda-Ka-Talab. The ridge flattens out with oaks mainly as company.
Look forward to the walk over the ridge as you weave your way under the oak trees. The gently ascending walk is a welcome relief from the stiff climb of the past hour. Another half hour later, the ridge dips on your right to a wide open meadow with three log huts in one its corner. These are the first of the many shepherd huts that you’ll spot on the trail today. Continue walking on the ridge to the edge of the meadow and start another sharp climb through the oaks.
Half an hour later the ridge opens out to yet another open meadow on your right with a solitary shepherd’s hut. The setting is strikingly beautiful and calls for a break from the trek. You have less than a thousand feet to climb from here to the Kedarkantha base campsite – so you can afford to take a long break here. Call this clearing the Hut Point because you will get to this spot again on your descent, though from another direction.
In winter, this is where you are likely to see your first patches of snow, unless there has been a heavy bout of snowfall earlier in the year. You are at 10,400 feet here.
Climb out of the meadow and rejoin the ridge as it continues to climb further. A short twenty minute climb later, again in the shades of the oaks, the trail opens out to a large clearing on the northern edge of which is another shepherd’s hut. Look behind you for your first awe inspiring 180 degree view of snow ranges surrounding the Kedarkantha summit.
Rest for a while in the shades near the hut, and continue with the trail that goes behind the hut. The trail, distinguishable with stones marking its width turns left climbing the open slopes to enter a clump of dry oak forest.
The trail switches direction moving in a northerly direction under the dry oak trees. Usually over snow, the trail climbs gently in two stages to another clearing. You have arrived at the Kedarkantha base camp site, marked by another dilapidated shepherd’s hut.
White mountain peaks stretch from your left to your right forming a wide arc. Bandarpoonch, Swargarohini, Kala Nag and Ranglana stand out from the scores others.
Move past the dilapidated and uninhabited hut on your left and pitch your tent anywhere close by. Select a spot that is wide and open – you want to get a good view of the starlit sky later in the evening. Even before the night falls the planets start to shine their brightest – and meteors streak through the sky. The Milky Way stretches from one end of the horizon to another. Well into the night, it is difficult to spot the inkiness of the sky, so dense are the stars in the sky. In the distance the mountain peaks glisten in the brightness of the night.
The cold in the open is intense and it often gets windy. Carry enough woolen wear to protect you from the elements.
Day 3: Kedarkantha meadows (11,250 ft) to Kedarkantha peak (12,500 ft). Descend to Hargaon camp (8,900 ft). Total Time: 6-7 hours. Trek 6 kms.
Sunrise from the Kedarkantha meadows is as startling as the sunset. It is something worth getting out of your sleeping bags early for. It starts early at the meadows, so you need to plan it somewhat.
The Kedarkantha peak is clearly visible from the meadows. There are many trails that go to the top. The main trail moves ahead keeping an even level. A short dip later it again gets into a bit of Oak forest climbing gently through the forest for about twenty minutes. At the end of the forest, the Kedarkantha peak is much closer and directly ahead of you. The trail vanishes but it is a straight forward climb to the top of the peak. The best route is to catch the northern ridge of the Kedarkantha summit, climb up in a series of switchbacks to reach the Kedarkantha summit temple. The temple is a few feet short of the summit. At the temple a small shrine of lord Ganesh and another of Shiva and Parvathi sits in a cement enclosure. The summit is a five minute climb from the shrine. It takes an hour and half to climb the summit from the Kedarkantha base campsite.
The Kedarkanta summit is marked by a square arrangement of stones with a Trishul that points to the sky. Remains of incense sticks and dried coconut are the other symbols of religious reverence that the summit holds for the locals. Towering over the rest of the region, the summit gives you a 360 degree view of the mighty snow clad ranges of Uttarakhand. Ask your guide to point out the Gangotri and the Yamunotri ranges from the summit. Also ask him to point out the Chanshil pass and the Kinner Kailash ranges.
Getting down from the summit, take an alternate route down to your camp following the southern ridge of Kedarkantha. It is a straight forward ridge descent to the oak forest below.
Note: Depending on the snow, many trekkers prefer to climb Kedarkantha from the southern ridge and descend by the northern side. The snow is less on the southern ridge and makes climbing easier. Both routes take approximately the same time, so choose a route depending on the snow.
Get back to your Kedarkantha base camp site by noon and not later than that. A quick lunch later, wrap your camp and begin your descent to Hargaon.
There are two alternate routes to Hargaon. One, retrace your step of the earlier day and reach the open clearing of Hut Point where you took your long break. Two, from the Kedarkantha base campsite descend to another dilapidated hut below the northeastern edge of the clearing and take the wide trail marked by stones. The trail switches direction and generally heads towards the ridge of the previous day but never meets it. The trail is spectacular as it ascends and descends through oaks, pines and frozen streams.
The trail moves through small clearings every half hour or so. The clearings are a unique feature to the Kedarkantha trail and a rarity in the Indian Himalayas. Some of the clearings are marked by huts of the shepherds.
Continue your descent until you come to the big wide clearing of Hut Point in an hour and half. Take a break here and instead of taking the ridge down, descend down the meadow that runs below you. At the end of the meadow, move to your right, cross the open nulla (stream) and take the trail that moves down the slope but avoids the ridge that runs parallel above. A while later get to the cluster of four shepherd’s hut that you saw on your way up from the trail on the ridge.
Continue past the cluster of four huts and re-enter the deep dark pine forest that engulfs the trail as it moves further and further away from the ridge. The trail gets exquisitely beautiful as it winds its way down an enchanted forest of pines to reach the Hargaon clearing in an hour and half’s time.
Day 4: Hargaon camp (8,900 ft) to Sankri (6,400 ft) Trek 6 kms. Time: 4 hours.
The Hargaon camp site is another campsite that stays in your mind for its prettiness. There is plenty of firewood to light a campfire as well.
The trail to Sankri is clearly marked by stones and its well paved nature. Descend through the pines and in a series of switchback come to a stream to your left. This is a good spot to fill water. The trail evens out and gradually descends through the pine forest to come to a ridge. From the ridge catch a view of the vast open Har-ki-dun valley. A great expanse of pine and maple forest unfolds below. Switch back from the ridge to get into the dark pine forest once more and descend for another ten minutes to pop out of the forest to your first sign of habitation. An apple orchard mixed with potato and cauliflower farms greet you. Huts that belong to local farmers line up on the right, standing out in the skyline.
Ask the farmers for direction as the trail can be a bit confusing running through the fields. Skirt past an apple orchard to your right descending rapidly through more fields. The trail continues to wind its way past the high altitude cultivations to emerge a thousand feet above Sankri in an about three hours.
There are numerous trails to Sankri, but the main one is the broad five foot trail that everyone uses. Resume your descent until you get to the pine forest a couple of hundred feet above Sankri. The trail forks multiple times here, with each heading to a different part of Sankri. Wait for a local to show you the direction to GMVN, which is a sharp detour from the main trail to the left. Descend down to GMVN in ten minutes to culminate a grand trek in the Uttarakhand Himalayas.
Central government employees can avail special casual leave for trekking the Kedarkanta peak trek, write to
for the application kit..
Easy. No prior trek experience required. See linkfor details
Round trail.The trek starts and ends at Sankri.
Dehradun is the nearest rail head to the base camp.
The trek starts at 6,000ft climbs to 12,500 ft.
Sankri (10 hrs drive from Dehradun)
Round the year except monsoon. Expect good snow in the winter months until mid April.
December last week to mid April.
Temperature in Spring (last week of April)
All temperature at 5.30 pm just after sundown. Sankri: 5°C Juda Ka Talab: 1 to 2°C Kedarkantha Base: -1 to -2°C
Temperature in winter (last week of December)
All temperature at 5.30 pm just after sundown. Sankri: -1°C Juda Ka Talab: -3°C Kedarkantha Base: -7°C
Physical preparation mandatory. See linkfor more details.
How to reach the base camp
Take an overnight train to Dehradun from Delhi (AC Special is the best option).Then take the bus to Sankri which leaves from outside the railway station at 6 am. Be there by 5.40 am to get a seat.
If you reach Dehradun late take a bus from the govt bus stand near the railway station to Naugaon/Purola. The last bus leaves at 12 pm. Break your journey at Purola and proceed to Sankri the next day morning in shared jeeps.
A hired Sumo/Bus is another option to reach Sankri if you are a group.
Note: Purola has the last ATM and phone connections. Sankri has BSNL mobile phone connections that work intermittently (both mobile and landline).
If you are joining our trek batches, Indiahikes arranges transportation for you from Dehradun to Sankri and back. The transport is in Sumos with six people sharing. The approximate cost per person would be Rs 1700 (up and down).
Delhi to Dehradun:
Book the New Delhi-Dehradun A/C special train from New Delhi station. The train reaches Dehradun at 5.40 am. Our vehicles pick you up from the station at 6.30 am.
Dehradun to Delhi:
After the trek is over, our vehicles drop you back to Dehradun in time to catch the Dehradun New Delhi A/C special or the Mussoorie express trains (to Delhi).
Arjun Majumdar. An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion. Long years of trekking and the problems faced in getting information about trails led him to start Indiahikes. The Indiahikes team regularly goes or sends groups on exploratory treks. The information is documented and brought out to the world. The Kedarkantha Summit trek featured here is one such exploratory trek done by Indiahikes.
“Bloody Hell!” means a lot of things to us. These are moments that stay in our hearts after any trek..
Here are a few BloodyHell! moments shared by our March 2013 Kedarkanta trekkers....
Vikram Verma'sBH moment!!!
"Humbled by the mighty Himalayas, felt no more than a speck in the whole eternity.So sensuous. So mesmerizing. So ethereal. So pristine. Felt as if I belonged there. Felt as if I have missed something in life.
"Exiting the summit ridge and getting to the final rope and walking all Tenzing Norgay-like holding it very gently, then getting almost to the end and seeing a gigantic (neverending?) gaping hole in the snow and suddenly realising why the rope had been put there in the first place! - BH!" Read on...
The climb from KK base camp to summit, blanket of fresh snow, no footsteps, not a speck of dust....perfection, purity, poetryBH!
That moment when you are awe-struck, dumb-struck.. and juststruck-struck.. And you think, nah its not real! But lets face it, it is as real as it can ever get! And you feel small... totally encaptured and mesmerised with the beauty thats in front of you and you just don't want to let that moment go, that beauty engulfs you.
"When I awoke up in early morning of 29th,went for toilet...with pressure..., saw the temporary toilet flown away with its stands and the hole was stacked with fresh snow due to snow storm in night. Now think about the "Bloody Hell" with Swaraj. what and how she solved the BLOODY HELL."
Abhirup Saha from 23rd December 2012 Kedarkanta trek batch writes:
What started with an intricate plan to climb the Kilimanjaro culminated with a climb to Kedarkantha. And we were richer for that, not only because of the huge sums of money saved but the incredible experience we had while climbing a relatively easy peak of 12,500 feet and camping at sub zero temperatures. This was also to be prep for the much colder Chadar trek, when we set our minds to climbing the Kedarkantha. A group of 4, for most of us this was the first experience with Indiahikes.
Harimohan Vfrom 24th December 2012 Kedarkanta trek batch writes:
It was 2011 September that I had gone on a vacation to Sikkim and Darjeeling with my family. There was this Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the museum in Darjeeling. The way the guide there was describing things had left an everlasting impression on me. So much that I can't forget the quote written on the wall there - "May you climb from peak to peak". I decided I had to do one. I know, I can't make it to Everest or Kanchenjunga or anything so high. But I wanted to experience that feel of living in the wilderness of the mountains, reaching a peak. Kedarkantha was perfectly fit as my first trek. I super-enjoyed every bit of it. I was actually so sad on my way back to those over-civilized cities. Read more...
Sahana Vishakantafrom 24th December 2012 Kedarkanta trek batch writes:
Its been a week that I'm back from the mountains but the hangover is still prominent.
This being my first trek with you guys, I must say I made a good choice for several reasons. And its a great pleasure to share my experiences of the trek with others and at the same time few of my thoughts which I felt could have made it better.
Ravichandran Bhaskaranfrom 22nd December 2012 Kedarkanta trek batch writes:
First out the trek is very convenient for people planning a trek from Delhi and nearby - it is just an overnight train to Dehradun. Sankriwhich is the base for the trek is a day's drive from Dehradun.
Sankri is a mostly unspoilt hamlet in the interiors of the Uttarakhand (bordering Himachal), a town like which you will never ever see on a commercial/ pilgrimage to the hills. Read more..
Rajarshi Chatterjee from 23rd December 2012 Kedarkanta trek batch writes:
What was supposed to be my first encounter with snow, turned out to be much more. Kedarkantha, a short four-day-trek booked a permanent place in my memories. Read more.
My first high altitude snow trek to Kedarkanta...
Abhinav Shenoys Blogs -
Nestled in the Uttarakhand Himalayas, the tiny village of Sankri serves as the starting point for the Kedarkanta trek organized by India Hikes. I had just completed by 6th std. exams. My dad and I had planned to trek to the Kedarkanta peak in the last week of March 2013. Read more...
Kedarkanta Trek - My second Soujourn with imalayas -24 Dec to 27 Dec 2011
Amit Moghe blogs...
The journey through the northern hills has always fascinated me,be it Delhi-Shimla-Manali, or Delhi-Dehradun-Mussoorie or Pathankot-Dalhousie, and I was not disappointed here also.The Journey from Dehradun-Mussoorie-Yamuna Bridge-Mori-Purola-Naiwad-Sankri n back was pretty.