18 Best Himalayan Treks to do in Autumn

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18 Best Himalayan Treks to do in Autumn

Category Month-wise Guides Season-wise Guides

By Swathi Chatrapathy

2022-08-17

I‘m noticing an interesting trekking trend in India. At first, I thought it was a one-off observation. But I’m seeing it year after year now.

Every year, trekkers rush to register for our winter treks once the monsoons are over. Even now, many of our December dates are already full. 

What baffles me is that trekkers don’t seem to know the goodness of trekking in between — the autumn season. 

This is why I put this post together.

Autumn is one of the best trekking seasons, if not THE best. And I don’t want you to miss out on the charm of this season.

To tell you why, I requested our founder, Arjun Majumdar, to make a quick candid video and share the grandeur of trekking in autumn.

He shares some of his personal stories and also his favourite reason to trek in autumn — something you’ll not see in any other season.

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Click on the image to view the Video

If that’s not enough, our co-founder Sandhya UC pens down her thoughts on trekking in Autumn.

Summer has traditionally been the most popular season for trekking in the Himalayas. But few people know about the charms of trekking in Autumn and why it is perhaps the perfect season for a Himalayan trek.

I list below four reasons that make Autumn my favourite season to trek.

1. Crystal clear skies 

The monsoons wash the skies of all hanging dust and haze. The air in the mountains becomes crisp and squeaky clear, making Autumn the best time for mountain views. Big mountain views are at their best. Every fold, every crack is seen with complete clarity.

Long-distance views are also at their best. You see mountains you never knew existed if you were trekking in spring or summer.

Some of my favourites from Autumn are, Tapovan with Mt Shivling towering over, Dayara and Gidara Bugyals with their 270-degree mountain panorama and the Phulara ridge walk and Sandakphu with long-distance views.

2. Very little chance of weather disrupting your trek

I have also noticed that we get minimal weather disruptions on our treks in October and November. Summer sees afternoon showers daily, while winter and spring tend to get sporadic snowfall. Autumn weather disruptions are almost unheard of. Again an after effect of the clear skies. If you want a guarantee of great weather on your trek, choose Autumn.

3. The colours of Autumn

If spring is the time for flowers, Autumn is for the colours of leaves, grass and the skies. The forests are colourful, teeming with yellow and red foliage. The grassy vegetation at higher altitudes turns red before turning into gold. The skies are also at their bright best, especially at sunset. If you wish to see the colours of the mountains, trek in Autumn. My favourites for colours are Har Ki Dun valley, Goechala, Buran and Rupin valleys.

4. Lower crowds

Being the non-traditional season for trekking, most trails are relatively empty in Autumn in our country. You will likely have the entire campsite to yourself, even on popular trails. 

Some treks, which climb above 13,000 ft, have tight windows and close by mid-October. Some others have longer seasons that stretch well into November. Click on the trek to check the dates.

The ideal time to start registering for these treks is in July. Most of our September and October groups fill out by late July, so plan soon!

View All Autumn Treks

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Best Autumn Treks in the Himalayas 2022 (Sept, Oct, Nov)

1. Dayara Bugyal

Region: Raithal, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

The meadows of Dayara Bugyal. Picture by Arjun Majumdar

Very few trekkers have set foot on the Dayara Bugyal trek in autumn. Many of them have done it in spring, summer and winter.

But Dayara Bugyal is one of those rare meadow treks that can take your breath away in autumn. It is one of the best mixes, starting with the colours of the forests, to the extraordinary meadows, with enormous mountains like Mt Bandarpoonch and the entire Gangotri Range perched at the edge of the meadows of all experiences packed in a short trek.

Given the clear weather and warmer daytime temperatures in autumn, this is suitable for families with children above 7.

Explore Dayara Bugyal

2. Deoriatal – Chandrashila

Region: Sari, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

The stark colours around Deoriatal in autumn. Picture by Sudipto

Everyone rushes to Deoriatal for the terrific mountain views. The views start within two hours of the trek when you set foot on the shores of the Deoriatal lake. Your jaws drop as you see the Chaukhamba Massif at the edge of the lake, accompanied by Kedarnath, Kedar dome, and so many other mountains you'll struggle to name.

The view disappears for a while as you step into the heart of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. You're engulfed by the dense forests around you, where the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves are all that accompany you.

The view again opens up as you emerge out of the forest and begin your ascent to the Chandrashila summit. For most trekkers, this view from the summit is the best view of their lives. This is where Deoriatal Chandrashila is special. It is not a section of Himalayan ranges that you see. You see all the major summits of Western and Eastern Uttarakhand from the summit. By all, we mean all.

Because of these mountains, there are no two ways about it. Autumn gives you the clearest skies and the clearest views. It's a photographer's dream come true.

Explore Deoriatal – Chandrashila

3. Kuari Pass

Region: Joshimath, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

The Tali Lake with Mt Dronagiri forming a backdrop. Picture by Dipabali Paul

Not many treks allow you very close to India’s tallest mountain (with its base completely in India), Mt Nanda Devi. But here’s a trek that takes you close and allows you to trek beside Mt Nanda Devi for days together! If that’s not enough, you have Mt Dronagiri and Mt Hathi Parbat keeping you company throughout the trek.

That’s just one of the reasons to do the Kuari Pass trek. This trek also has some of the best forests compared to all other Himalayan treks, and you camp in the middle of one of them. As you climb higher, you reach Gorson Bugyal, a vast stretch of meadows opening up to the mountain views.

In autumn, you see the best of the views from these meadows. In fact, most of our best entries for our annual calendars are pictures of Mt Nanda Ghunti shot from Gorson Bugyal.

Given that it’s suited to beginners, it’s one of our easier treks, with extremely high rewards!

Explore Kuari Pass

4. Kedarkantha

Region: Gaichawan Gaon, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

Trekkers taking rest in a meadow near a valley on the Kedarkantha trail. Picture by Arghya Biswas

The Kedarkantha trek is one of the most popular winter treks we have, and rightly so. The trail is covered in winter snow, a trek joy. However, the downside of this popularity is that it tends to get pretty crowded in the winter months. But if you want to experience the same Kedarkantha trail without the crowd, then it is an ideal autumn trek.

The trail boasts glorious snow-clad mountains and some of the most pristine views of the Himalayan range. The 360-degree view from the summit is unmatched in the Autumn months.

Adding the cherry on top, the trek becomes a notch easier than in the winter too! So if you’re planning on trekking in Autumn, look out for the Kedarkantha trek, especially if you’re planning to take your children along (this is your best chance).

Explore Kedarkantha

5. Brahmatal

Region: Lohajung, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

A rare view of the Brahmatal lake. Picture by Vikalp Gupta

On the Brahmatal trek, you walk on a high point with the mountain dropping on either side. This is called a ridgeline. A ridgeline often gives the feeling of an extended summit.

What’s delightful is that you also get to camp on the ridge – at Tilandi. From here, you get to see the Himalayan landscape rolling out on both sides.

As you are on a high point at Tilandi, you can witness the sunset and sunrise from the same campsite. And being at the high point also makes it the windiest campsite of the trek.

To top it all, you can see Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti up close from Brahmatal Top!

Explore Brahmatal

6. Phulara Ridge

Region: Kotgaon, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

The ridge walk on a beautiful autumn day on the Phulara Ridge trek. Picture by Oishy Halder

Ridge treks in India are an absolute rarity; maybe just a handful of such treks exist in India.

A ridge is a place where two sides of the mountain meet. So a walk on a ridge is almost like one on a knife-edge, where there are just flanks of the mountain sloping down from either side of you. There are small ridge sections on a few Himalayan treks. However, to have an entire day trek on a ridge is unparalleled.

If you have climbed a summit, you would know that you stand at the highest point for 20-30 minutes. This is where you get great views of the mountains around. On this trek, though, you’re at a high point of 12,000 ft for a day’s worth of trek (4-5 hours!).

The 250-degree panorama of snow-capped mountains stays with you throughout! It almost gives you the feeling that these mountains are trekking along with you as you traverse the ridge that curves into the landscape.

Below you, the ground sweeps down on either side – one into a meadow, one into a valley. These dramatic views and ever-changing landscapes make Phulara Ridge Trek a unique experience.

Explore Phulara Ridge

7. Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Valley

Region: Kotgaon, Uttarakhand
Duration: 8 Days

Autumn colours of the Har Ki Dun Valley. Picture by Vishal Sinha

The Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Valley trek hasn’t seen much human footprint in autumn, leaving many birds and animals to thrive in this region. You can spot Langoor families near Puani Garaat. Chances are that you might even spot Black bears, wild boars and Barasingha amongst other animals owing to the excellent weather and absence of haze.

The trail lets you enjoy the pine forest habitat at its colourful best.

It’s probably the only valley from which you can see Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Black peak altogether. Having a clear view of Swargarohini makes you feel like a Pandava ascending to the heavens. You can also see the Ruinsara Peaks.

Often you are accompanied by swollen streams that flow mellifluously down the hills. The Har Ki Dun trek is one of the best autumn treks, and it is at its colourful best in September, October and November.

Explore Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal

8. Sandakphu – Phalut

Region: Jaubhari, West Bengal
Duration: 7 Days

The Sleeping Buddha as seen from the Sandakphu trek. Picture by Tirth Dhami

Putting the Sandakphu – Phalut trek towards the end of this list tells you that there’s no particular order in this list. Because this is one of our best autumn treks. With views of four of the tallest mountains in the world – Mt Everest, Mt Lhotse, Mt Makalu and Mt Kanchenjunga, this is one trek to keep a tab on if you’re going in autumn.

Not only do you get crisp views, but you also trek through the beautiful forests of the Singalila National Park. The colours in these rhododendron, bamboo and pine forests are stunning!

Also, you could get a chance to spot the elusive red panda in these forests in autumn. One of our experienced wildlife photographers, Ajit Hota, says autumn is a great season to spot the red panda and hundreds of birds. He even spotted a bear on this trek! So if you plan this trek, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

Being up in the mountains in such clear, clean air is a blessing. Everything seems more enhanced – the colours, the smells, the scale… They say an uncluttered home can bring clarity to mind; an uncluttered trek in the Himalayas can do just that 1000 times over.

Explore Sandakphu – Phalut

9. Ali Bedni Bugyal

Region: Lohajung, Uttarakhand
Duration: 6 Days

The golden meadows of Ali Bugyal as seen on an autumn evening. Picture by Sandhya UC

Ali-Bedni Bugyal is one of those rare treks that take you to a few of our country's most beautiful alpine meadows. These meadows in autumn are a riot of colours -- from goldens to ochres to shades of crimson. These meadows light up unimaginably during sunrise and sunset, making them one of the most memorable moments you'll experience on treks.

On the other hand, the approach to the meadows through the forests is no less. The meadows of Ghairoli and Tolpani are a few of the prettiest oak forests you'll walk in. Waking up in a camp in the heart of these forests, with golden light dancing through the trees, is an incredible slight.

To top it all, you trek with views of a few of the most magnificent mountains of our country -- Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti. The alpenglow on these mountains can make the most experienced trekkers shaky on their knees. These kinds of colours and views are possible only in autumn.

Explore Ali Bedni

10. Rathan Kharak

Region: Kumaon, Uttarakhand
Duration: 7 Days

Trekking on the wide meadow of Thala Kharak. Picture by Nitesh Kumar

Ranthan Kharak is a new explored trek in the heart of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. After many months of research, we discovered Ranthan Kharak Trek, which starts from the Bageshwar district and enters into the Pithoragarh district.

The trail lets you enjoy the forests and Kharaks at their colourful best. The forests of Ranthan Kharak make your knees go weak. The forest is a mix of oak trees, maple, and pine with pristine variety of birds. Trekking during the Autumn season is a delight for any trekker with a special corner for forest sections.

Apart from forests, you get crystal clear views of Nanda Devi, Danghtal, Tharkot and Maiktoli.

Explore Ranthan Kharak

11. Gidara Bugyal

Region: Bhangeli, Uttarakhand
Duration: 7 Days

The meadows of Gidara are a lush golden against a blue autumn sky. Picture by Khush Gala

Gidara Bugyal is an ancient, pristine meadow known in hardcore trekking circles. It is one of the largest high-altitude meadows you will set foot on. It is larger than its twin Dayara Bugyal. Possibly larger than the twin meadows of Ali and Bedni Bugyal as well. It takes at least two days to traverse!

Even though it is known in the trekking circles, Gidara is extremely secluded. There are very few people that trek in these meadows. You will likely spot only signs of civilisation, the shepherds and their settlements around your first campsite, Rikoda. You may see a mountain dog or two. But you will likely be the only group trekking and camping in these meadows.

Explore Gidara Bugyal

12. Gaumukh Tapovan

Region: Gangotri, Uttarakhand
Duration: 7 Days

Striking colours as you approach Tapovan, with Mt Shivling forming the backdrop. Picture by Sooraj Kumar

The trek takes you to the source of river Ganga, the Gaumukh glacier. Not only that, it is the only trek in the country that takes you closer to Mt Shivling, where you see it from the base to the summit in one gigantic frame!

Along with Mt Shivling, Mt Meru and the Bhagirathi sisters keep the close company at Tapovan.

Explore Gaumukh Tapovan

13. Buran Ghati

Region: Himacha;
Duration: 8 Days

Colours of Buran Ghati. Picture by Shibayan Kayal

For us, Buran Ghati is the most complete trek. It has stunning scenery, one of the best meadows, great culture, well-paced, and terrific high-altitude adventure. Even the road journey to the base camp is superb!  

Autumn is one of the best times to do the Buran Ghati trek as you see the fiery, glorious colours during this time. The trail changes colour as you trudge deeper into the trek. Initially, you’ll notice many shades of green near the base camp. This continues as you trek through forests and grasslands. But as you gain altitude and get closer to the pass, you’ll notice more yellows, oranges, and browns.

You also see snow but in smaller patches. The ice on the Buran Ghati wall has melted away, exposing rocky terrain. You trek down this rocky patch while descending.

Explore Buran Ghati

14. Rupin Pass

Region: Himachal
Duration: 7 Days

The famous U-Shaped Valley at Rupin Pass. Picture by Karthikeyan

If there is a classic trek in India, it has to be the Rupin Pass. This trek is like an orchestra, building up momentum with surprises in scenery every hour or so. With every step, the trek throws up a new vista to see and unique scenery to unfold. Quite suddenly too!

In Autumn, a whole new set of attractions on the Rupin Pass trek open up. The monsoons fade, and the entire valley from Jiskun turns green. Hundreds of waterfalls appear out of nowhere along the trail—the meadows of Saruwas Thatch and Dhanderas Thatch bloom with wildflowers.

As we move towards October, you'll see the valley turning golden from the green that it was a few weeks ago. The snow is mostly missing in the Autumn season, but the beauty and adventure of the trek don't let you feel the absence of snow.

Explore Rupin Pass

15. Khopra Ridge

Region: Nepal
Duration: 9 Days

A view of Mt Machapuchare from the Khopra Ridge trek. Picture by Krunal Patel

On our Khopra Ridge trek, we have sent a few of the most experienced Trek Leaders to lead the treks. Trek Leaders have been to Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp and have done some of our country's best treks. But ask them which one they would rate at their Top Most trek; they all have just one trek to pick -- Khopra Ridge.

This has taken us by surprise too. Khopra Ridge is a hardly known trail in Nepal. Very few people do the trek, so much so that the tea houses on the trail rarely see any business. But unknown to most, this seems to be one of the most rewarding treks in Nepal, given the astounding views of the Annapurna Massif, Mt Machapuchare and Mt Dhaulagiri.

You see all of these from a ridge, a terrific vantage point you walk on for hours together. Needless to say, cloudless autumn skies make for the best time of the year to witness these views. It's a challenging trek, but don't miss out on it if you're an experienced trekker.

Explore Khopra Ridge

16. Goechala

Region: Yuksom, Sikkim
Duration: 10 Days

A clear view from Dzongri Top on the Goechala trek. Picture by Ashwini

The biggest reason to do the Goechala trek is the grand views of big mountains. You don’t just see one summit — the Kanchenjunga — but 14 other big summits. That’s a lot for any trek — especially as close to the eyes as on the Goechala trek. It is no wonder that trekkers consider Goechala to be the closest to the big mountain treks of Nepal.

The trail to Goechala is blessed with rhododendron forests. And come spring-summer months of April and May, they burst to life with pink and red flowers! It’s an enormously enjoyable walk through the wooden-log trails of these jungles!

Samiti Lake is another big attraction on the Goechala trek. The view of the still waters, and the reflection of Mt Pandim in the lake, especially in the early hours, is a visual treat.

Explore Goechala

17. Bali Pass

Region: Kotgaon, Uttarakhand
Duration: 8 Days

The otherwise snow-covered ridge walk on the Bali Pass trek becomes a notch easier in autumn as the snow melts away. Picture by Preetham TS

There aren’t many treks that let one experience the raw grandeur of a Himalayan pass crossing in the autumn season. The Bali Pass is an exhilarating trail connecting Har Ki Dun valley with Yamunotri. It traverses the confluence of Tons and Ruinsara rivers, the undisturbed serenity of the Ruinsara Valley and the lush meadows of Devsu Thach.

Soon, golden-brown grass on the trek of autumn paves the way for an alpine zone. At 16,207 ft, the Bali Pass trek offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the Bandarpoonch, Kalanag and Swargarohini peaks. This reward doesn’t come easy, as this trek is arduous and unsuitable for beginners.

Explore Bali Pass

18. Kedartal

Region: Gangotri, Uttrakhand
Duration: 7 Days

Autumn colours in the grasslands on the Kedartal trek. Picture by Ashwin Srinivasa

One of our more challenging treks, definitely not for beginners. It climbs up to 16,000 ft to the Kedartal Lake. You get close to the big mountains, Mt Thalaysagar and Mt Bhrigupanth.

This trek rates high on adventure. It is also an endurance test of sorts since it has long days, rugged terrain and climbs to a very high altitude. If you want to avoid treks like Rupin Pass and Gaumukh Tapovan and yet experience the same adventure, then choose this trek.

Choose this trek only if you are very fit and have prior high-altitude trek experience.

Explore Kedartal

We hope you use this guide to plan your trek well. 

Most of these groups will be full by the end of July. Don’t leave your planning for later and feel stranded with no dates left.

If you need help, drop in a comment below. We’ll write back to you.

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Swathi Chatrapathy

Chief Editor

About the author

Swathi Chatrapathy heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many, Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers.

A TEDx speaker and a frequent guest at other events, Swathi is a much sought after resource for her expertise in digital content.

Before joining Indiahikes, Swathi worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters's in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to bring about a profound impact on a person's mind, body and spirit.

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