There is something special about winter treks. Want to know what? The SNOW itself. Surprised? Let us visualize a fairytale land as you saw in the movie ‘Frozen’- a mattress of camphor-white snow sheet covering the entire land, a wild forest of pine, oak, deodar trees, and some summit views that will snatch words even from the most skilled wordsmith. Now if you ask me whether such a trek exists that offers all that you have just imagined, then I will tell you YES.
I’m talking about the Kedarkantha trek- it is the most popular winter trek in India. In fact, it offers you more than you have imagined. Though this trek is doable in all seasons except monsoon, winter is the best time for it. This comprehensive Kedarkantha trek guide for 2023 is going to uncover a slew of reasons which back up the claim of being the best winter trek.
How is Kedarkantha Trek?
It is a summit climbing trek in a word. Kedarkantha is a summit located at the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The whole trek route is within the zone of Govind Ballabh Pant Wildlife Sanctuary. The starting point of Kedarkantha trek is Sankri, a small village in Uttarakhand located at a height of 1950 meters. The peak itself is at a staggering altitude of 3800 meters.
Kedarkantha trek distance from Sankri is about 20Km covered in 6 days. Now keeping aside these statistics, the attractions along the way are numerous.
The Juda Ka Talab, a lake, and one of the campsites are some of the attractions of this trek. During winter water of this lake freezes. You can even walk on the thick ice sheet that deposits upon the lake. Outstanding views of majestic mountain peaks such as Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Dhauladhar, and many more are visible along the trail. The rich flora and fauna, high altitude alpine forest with its wilderness intact, rivers like Kedarganga, the Yamuna flowing furiously beside your way to Himalayan paradise- are a few among the plethora of attractions.
Height: 3800 Meters
Duration: 6 Days
Trek length: 20Km
Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate
Starting Point: Sankri
Ending Point: Sankri
Base Camp: Sankri
Nearest Place with Pan-India Connectivity: Dehradun
Weather: This trek is warmest during May-June with the minimum temperature being 5-7 degrees and the maximum temperature hovering around 15-20 degrees. During winter temperature varies from subzero to 9 degrees.
Best Time to Visit Kedarkantha Trek
Kedarkantha trek is operational in every season except the monsoon. In Summer (May-June), Autumn (September-October), Winter (November-February), and Spring (March-April) the trek witnesses different forms of nature. The summer is relatively more comfortable as the temperature ranges from 7 to 20 degrees. Mildly hot days and cold nights prevail during summer. The forests and clearings are lush green and colorful with flowers. Ascend to the peak is easier.
In spring trees in forests and the meadows wake up from winter hibernation with fresh green leaves. Though the big chunks of snow start melting at the beginning of spring, you can expect residual snow deposits here and there all along the trek. The temperature at night remains at sub-zero and the day temperature remains around 12 degrees. At the beginning of Autumn, you can expect little rainfall. A mildly warm day and very cold night are what you encounter if you visit this trek at this time.
However, the best time to visit Kedarkantha trek is from November to February, i.e., winter. The whole trail along with the forest floor and all the meadows goes below a thick ice sheet. Often nature blesses your trekking experience with a cotton candy-like snowfall. The trail becomes a bit slippery due to ice and the summit climb becomes a bit tricky in winter. But these add more points to the adventure quotient of this trek for which Kedarkantha trek in December is the most sought after. The harsh winter brings down the temperature frequently to -10 degrees at night. Day time temperature stays around 6 degrees.
Kedarkantha trek can be easy or moderate based on the endurance level and physical fitness of an inpidual. The terrain and the trek’s trail are gradual ascents to the peak although there are some steep climbing sections present.
One has to cover 20 km in 5 days and has to climb from 1950 meters to 3800 meters in the span of nearly one week. That means covering an average of 4-5 Km and climbing nearly 300 meters every day. Comparing these figures with other treks, it is slow-paced and gives sufficient time for acclimatization. No doubt, beginners with a fair amount of physical fitness can accomplish this easily.
If someone has no experience, then preparing oneself with various cardio exercises for 2-3 months prior to the trek is enough to make him or her fit. Now during winter temperature drops to minus 10 or even less. Walking on slippery ice is also not that easy like walking on solid ground. Therefore, the trek prone to be on the moderate side of difficulty during winters. But there’s nothing to worry about if you have the right gears with you.
Kedarkantha Trek Itinerary
● Your real adventure will begin from Dehradun, where you can reach through train or airplane for this trek. After a long drive of 210 Km through the serpentine mountain road, you will reach Sankri.
● This journey usually takes 10-11 hours altogether while you enjoy the natural beauty along the way.
● You will end your day after reaching Sankri in the evening. Your stay for the night will be at a local homestay.
● On the dawn of the second day, you will leave Sankri and start walking through the local trail which leads to the nearby forest.
● This portion is somewhere steep and somewhere easy walking in the flat path.
● After trekking for 4 km for 5 hours, you will reach Juda Ka Talab- an alpine lake and our campsite for the day.
● At an altitude of over 2700 meters, you will spend the night in tents and enjoy natural greenery around and beautiful sunset and sunrise in the backdrop of mountains.
● Today’s trek is through the forest near Juda Ka Talab towards the majestic Dhauladhar range.
● You will trek for 2-3 hours and cover around 4 km stretch of dense forest
● Towards the end of our forest trail, you will reach an open meadow at the base of the peak. This is when you stand at an altitude of 3500 meters.
● The view from this clearing is the most spectacular in this trek. Apart from the Kedarkantha peak a few km away, you will see other mighty peaks of Dhauladhar ranges all gazing at you.
● Day 4 is going to be the most challenging yet rewarding. From the base camp, at the foothill of Kedarkantha peak, you will start climbing a steep ridge to climb the summit.
● From 3500 meters, the altitude will rise to 3800 meters when you step into the top of the peak finally. When you return to Hargaon the altitude again drops down to 2700 meters.
● After climbing the summit, you will descend back to the basecamp where you had spent the previous night and started today’s journey. Lunch will be served there and after the meal, you will head towards Hargaon where you reach by evening.
● It’s a journey of 6-7 Kms that you will be doing for 7 hours approximately.
● Today, you will return to Sankri from Hargaon through the forest trail that you followed earlier.
● Today’s trek is a relatively easy one, taking only 4 hours of hiking. You will cover 6 km on this day.
● Upon return to Sankri, you will spend the rest of the day there in the guest house.
On this last day, you will be returned back to Dehradun. You will drive through the same scenic way that you took to reach Sankri.
So, rounding up everything Kedarkantha can be easily labeled as a unique trek. This trek sticks out from others for being on the easy to moderate side on the perse landscape (It’s RARE!), almost a year-round active trail, awesome 360-degree view from peak and other spots. If you visit Kedarkantha in winter you will experience snowfall, frozen lakes, snow piled up on the branches of trees- exactly like an expensive Christmas decoration. These are bonuses with all other highlights mentioned that the trek offers in other seasons.
Now you know why you shouldn’t miss the Kedarkantha trek in winter. If you are planning, I will suggest you visit this trek at least once in the cold months.
Author Bio (Guest Author)
Deepabali is a content writer at Moxtain. She has completed her education from MAKAUT, West Bengal. She has a keen interest in the world of classical music and is learning the same since childhood.
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