Most people tend to think that the Himalayas are all about fresh white snow. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Himalayas are as much about colour as they are about snow! And what better time than autumn to witness this magnificent canvas! We bring you our Top 13 Autumn Treks do to in the months between mid-October and November.
Autumn is a brilliant time to trek the Himalayas, for mainly three reasons.
First, the forests — they’re an absolute treat to the senses. The trees turn from green to earthy shades of brown and orange. Shafts of sunlight pierce through maple leaves, carving out their edges and giving them a charming glow. With each step, you can hear the crisp crunch of leaves underneath your feet.
And oh the views! By God the views cannot be better than in these months! Trekking in autumn is like getting the best seats at the theatre. Since monsoon takes away with it the summer haze, it leaves the sky squeaky clean! You can see crystal clear views of mountains as far as the horizon can stretch.
Which makes it the best time to trek for photographers! That would be the third reason. During the day, the blue of the sky will put a sapphire to shame. And during the night, you’ll see more stars than black sky. So here, after much debate, we have put down 8 of the best treks to do in autumn.
Table of Contents
- Phulara Ridge
- Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal
- Sandakphu – Phalut
- Annapurna Base Camp
- Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Ri
- Khopra Ridge
- Deoriatal – Chandrashila
- Dayara Bugyal
- Chandranahan Lake
- Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek
- Nag Tibba Weekend Trek
Here are the Top 13 Himalayan treks to do between mid-October and November:
1. Phulara Ridge
To start with, surprisingly an Indian ridge trek. Ridge treks in India are an absolute rarity, maybe just a handful of such treks exist in India. While exploring the Phulara Ridge trek in April of 2017, we think we’ve come across the best ridge trek in India.
Now, a ridge is a place where two sides of the mountain meet. So the 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 from 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.
Finally, you’ll have to picture why we think the Phulara Ridge Trek is one of our best autumn treks; Imagine the 250-degree panorama with forests transitioning gradually from lush green to hues of orange and clear skies wherein you can see the mountains as far as the horizon.
2. Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal
The Har Ki Dun – Ruinsara Tal trek hasn’t seen much human footprint, 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.
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 the cake, 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).
4. Sandakphu – Phalut
Putting the Sandakphu – Phalut trek at the end 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.
5. Annapurna Base Camp
The Annapurna Base Camp trek is one of the best treks to do in autumn. You walk amidst the big mountains of Nepal, the biggest highlights on this trek being Mt Machapuchare, whose base camp you camp at, and of course, the Annapurna Massif.
With every contour in the range emphasised by the autumn sun, every ridge standing out like a sharp spine, the range is nothing short of a spectacle. There’s no doubt that this is one of the best autumn treks especially due to the rainless chilly weather during the months of September, October and November.
6. Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Ri
This trek needs no introduction. If you’re planning to check it off your bucket list, then perhaps October is the best time to do the trek. With clear skies, you get flawless views of the world’s tallest mountains. Add it to views of the gorgeous Ama Dablam.
Another perk of doing it in October on the Gokyo Ri route is seeing the blue waters of Gokyo and taking in the view from the Gokyo pass. It’s a magnificent view! It’s what wallpapers are made of.
The Everest Base Camp Trek via Gokyo Ri is one of our top autumn treks and is a must-do for anyone wanting to experience the thrill of trekking to the base of the worlds tallest mountains — Mt Everest.
7. Khopra Ridge
What good is it if there are no treks to do in Nepal in Autumn? Khopra Ridge is an off-beat Himalayan trek that is the hidden gem of Nepal!
It is one of the only few treks from where you get to see 22 of the big Himalayan mountains. And you get to walk on the ridge, for 2 full days. A trek so rewarding is hard to miss in the month of October.
8. Deoriatal – Chandrashila
Set in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand, the Deoriatal Chandrashila trek is a treat for wildlife lovers. And it is also a great summit climb (12,083 ft) for those who are beginning to start trekking in the Himalayas.
You see, summit climbs are rewarding, and trudge up a mountain for hours during the wee hours. You reach its highest point like the rays of the sun lighten the sky. Everything is below you — the clouds, the hills, the tiny specks of civilization. On a Himalayan trek, you usually see mountain ranges in the distance.
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.
9. Dayara Bugyal
Very few trekkers have set foot on the Dayara Bugyal trek, even though it lies very close to the Gangotri region.
Dayara Bugyal is one of those off-beat treks which takes your breath away! It is so rewarding for very little effort.
The vast meadows, beautiful campsites and stunning mountain views make Dayara Bugyal an ideal summer trek. Especially if there are kids aged 7 years and above, because it makes for a perfect family trek, just like the Phulara Ridge trek above.
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!
11. Chandranahan Lake
The Chandranahan Lake is a small lake fed by several springs and melting snow. It is the true source of the Pabbar River, beside which you trek throughout this journey. The lake is in an alpine zone, around the 14,000 feet — the altitude makes it a whole different adventure.
The lake is in a kind of a bowl flanked by high snow peaks. Trekking to the lake feels like almost being part of a big climbing expedition.
12. Chhattisgarh Jungle Trek
It is hard for the jungles of Chhattisgarh to not set your imagination ablaze. The setting is such that you’re constantly transported to the mysterious world of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Lying in the heart of the Guru Ghasidas National Park, this trek winds through deep forests goes alongside a river and has an air of omnipresence of wildlife.
Now, not many have heard of Guru Ghasidas National Park. Yet, at 1,440 sq km it is larger than the Ranthambore National Park and Kanha Tiger reserve put together. Or bigger than Bandipur and Mudumalai National Park put together. Which makes this trek is inside a large and relatively unexplored forest.
What makes this trek even more special is that you need the forest department to help you get inside a national park. These are reserved areas and access to the common man is prohibited. So with the help of the Forest Department, we get to explore a real, wild jungle untouched by safari tourism. It is not often you get to experience jungles of our country like this.
13. Nag Tibba Weekend Trek
We all know summit climbs are incredibly rewarding in a trek. This is why we have trekkers flocking to treks like Kedarkantha or Deoriatal – Chandrashila. In a trail like Nag Tibba, you get to experience the thrill of a summit climb in just a weekend!
Resting at 9,915 ft, the summit of this trek is the highest in the Nag Tibba range of Garhwal Himalayas. From here, you see a 100-degree view of snow-capped Himalayan ranges such as Swargrohini, Bandarpoonch, Kala Nag, Srikantha, and Gangotri.
You also see Kedarnath peak in the north, Doon valley and the snow peaks of Changabang. With views like this and a climb to make you earn them, this weekend trek may be one of the best.
What do you think about our Top 13 Autumn treks? Have you been to any other trek that you think was best in the autumn months from mid-October and November?