15 Best Himalayan Treks to do in Autumn Months of September, October a...

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15 Best Himalayan Treks to do in Autumn Months of September, October and November

Category Month-wise Guides Season-wise Guides

By Swathi Chatrapathy

2021-06-23

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

Every year, once the monsoons are over, trekkers rush to register for our winter treks. 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. 

Which 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 full clarity.

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

Some of my favorites 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 very little weather disruptions on our treks in the months of October and November. Summer sees afternoon showers every day 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 colors of Autumn

If spring is the time for flowers, autumn is for the colors of leaves, grass and the skies. The forests are colorful, teeming with yellow and red foliage. The grassy vegetation at higher altitudes turn red before turning into gold. The skies are also at their colorful best especially at sunset. If you wish to see the colors of the mountains, trek in Autumn. My favorites 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 rather empty in Autumn in our country. You are likely to have the entire campsite to yourself even on popular trails. 

Some of these treks, which climb above 13,000 ft, have tight windows and close down 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

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. Starting with the colours of the forests, to the extrordinary meadows, with big mountains like Mt Bandarpoonch and the entire Gangotri Range perched at the edge of the meadows, it is one of the best mix of all experiences packed in a short trek.

Given the clear weather and warmer day time temperatures in autumn, this is even suitable to families with children aged 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 once 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's 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 not only takes you close, but 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 the autumn season, 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. In the winters, the trail is completely covered in snow and it’s a joy to trek. However, the downside of this popularity is the fact that it does tend 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.

Not only does the trail boast of glorious snow-clad mountains, but also of some of the most pristine views of the Himalayan range. In-fact 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 I 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. 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’s day trek on a ridge is unparalleled.

If you have done a summit climb, you would know that you stand at the highest point for perhaps 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 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 its way 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 are what makes Phulara Ridge Trek a unique experience.

Explore Phulara Ridge

6. 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 get to 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 get to see Mt Trishul and Mt Nanda Ghunti up close from Brahmatal Top!

Explore Brahmatal

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 good weather and complete absence of haze.

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

It’s probably the only valley from which you can see Swargarohini – I, II, III, Bandarpoonch and Black peak, all together. Getting such 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 definitely one of the best autumn treks and it is at its colourful best in the months of 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 wonderful 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 too. 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 the mind; an uncluttered trek in the Himalayas can do just that a 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 takes you up to a few of the most beautiful alpine meadows of our country. These meadows in autumn are a riot of colours -- right 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 in their knees. These kind of colours and views are possible only in autumn.

Explore Ali Bedni

10. 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 that is known in the 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 actually trek in these meadows. The only signs of civilisation you are likely to spot are the shepherds and their settlements around your first campsite, Rikoda. You may see a mountain dog or two. But you are likely to be the only group trekking and camping in these meadows.

Explore Gidara Bugyal

11. 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 that 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 close company at Tapovan.

Explore Gaumukh Tapovan

12. 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. They are Trek Leaders who have been to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp and done a few of the best treks in our country too. 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 to do 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 that 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 tough trek, but don't miss out on it if you're an experienced trekker.

Explore Khopra Ridge

13. 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, that too in the autumn season. Connecting Har Ki Dun valley with Yamunotri, the Bali Pass is an exhilarating trail. 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 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 a difficult one, not suitable for beginners.

Explore Bali Pass

14. 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 that you see. 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 pleasing walk through the wooden-log trails of these jungles!

The 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

15. Kedartal

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

One of our tougher treks, definitely not for beginners. It climbs up to 16,000 ft to the Kedartal Lake. You get up close to 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, tough 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 some 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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