July, August, and up to about the middle of September are popular times to trek. Kashmir, the mountains of northern Himachal Pradesh, the rain-shadow regions of Jammu, and the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand are all at their most beautiful during this time.
There’s another thing. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always pouring on a monsoon trek. Many trekkers have started realising that.
Here’s a figure that may surprise you: As I write, 2,021 trekkers have already registered for an Indiahikes trek this monsoon. It gives you an indication of how much trekkers love trekking during this period.
And if you are considering trekking in the monsoon, here are the top 10 treks you must think about:
Treks in Himachal Pradesh
1. Chandrakhani Pass Trek
Difficulty: Moderate | Duration: 5 days | Pick-up: Manali
The famous ridge walk of Chandrakhani Pass trek where on one side you have the stunning view of the Dhauladhar range and on the other side you have the magnificent Pir Panjal range. Photo by Akhil Sharma.
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This is one of the oldest treks in our country, It runs along an ancient trade route which connects the Kullu valley with the Parvati valley. There is a clear difference between the cultures, and architecture in these two valleys as they were home two distinct ancient civilisations.
You'll notice the difference on your Chandrakhani Pass trek, as you pass the old villages of Kullu valley and then cross over into the Parvati valley.
This experience Chandrakhani Pass trek apart from other crossover treks.
2. Bhrigu Lake
Difficulty: Moderate, Level 2 | Duration: 4 days | Pick-up: Manali
The soft, rolling meadows of Bhrigu Lake trek. Photo by Gatreddi Avinash.
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If you’re looking for a quick escape into the mountains, then Bhrigu Lake is a great option. It climbs right out of Manali into the mountains, and you see Manali getting tinier and tinier below you.
Ahead of you, the grandest of meadows open up.
Our founders were stumped looking at these meadows when they went late in August. They were fresh, green and expansive, stretching to as far as the eyes could see! Higher up, you climb to the lake, frozen in June, a forget-me-not blue in monsoon.
If you have just around four days, this is your trek!
3. Beas Kund
Difficulty: Moderate, Level 1 | Duration: 4 days | Pick-up: Manali
Vibrant flowers bloom throughout the valley on the Beas Kund trek. In the backdrop, once the clouds clear, you see the jagged Pir Panjal range. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
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Just like the Bhrigu Lake trek, Beas Kund also offers a quick getaway from Manali and takes you on one of the most beautiful landscapes, leading you to the source of river Beas that flows through the town.
This trek is an amphitheatre of big mountains!
The Beas Kund trail offers you close, base-to-summit views of big mountains of Manali like Friendship Peak, Shitidhar, Ladakhi and Hanuman Tibba. This is just within four days of trekking! These kind of views of a mountain are usually gifts given to mountaineers and hardcore trekkers – after days of rigorous trekking.
On a clear day, you’ll also be able to spot Mt Indrasen, Deo Tibba and more peaks from the Pir Panjal range.
4. Miyar Valley Trek
Difficulty: Moderate, Level 3 | Duration: 7 days | Pick-up: Manali
The barren, snow-capped mountains of Lahaul rising from a lush landscape. Photo by Jothiranjan.
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In the remote region of Lahaul, a valley filled with flowers hangs quietly, escaping the attention of trekkers. The route to this valley alternates between remote mountain valleys, quaint villages, and flower beds dominated by the overwhelming presence of Himalayan orchids. This valley is Miyar Valley.
The S-shaped Miyar Valley sits in between Zanskar and Chamba. It is nearly 75 km long. The Miyar glacier is nearly 36 km long to Kang La (17,600 ft pass to Zanskar).
At the snout of the glacier are seven crystal clear blue ponds, considered to be sacred by Buddhists. Trekking here is a rare opportunity for most trekkers. And doing so in isolation, with very few others on the trail is a godsend.
5. Pin Bhaba Pass Trek
Difficulty: Difficult, Level 1 | Duration: 9 days | Pick-up: Manali
The Mulling campsite of Pin Bhaba Pass trek, with the Bhaba river flowing alongside. This is our most favourite campsite on the Pin Bhaba Pass trek. Photo by Gourab Nandy.
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Pin Bhaba Pass is hands down the most dramatic pass crossing trek in our country. That is a bold statement to make. Especially when we have so many pass crossing treks in our country.
But what you see when you stand at the pass is a testament to this bold statement we make.
Once at the pass you see Pin valley below you, in various shades of pink, set amidst the stark and deserted mountains of Spiti. While behind you is the lush green Bhaba valley. That is when you realize how remarkable the changes in the landscape are.
Treks in Jammu & Kashmir
6. Brammah Valley Trek
Difficulty: Moderate, Level 2 | Duration: 7 days | Pick-up: Jammu
The surreal setting of the clearing, Kidhar Maidan on Brammah Valley trek. You can see the tall, 6000 m mountains from here. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
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This is the newest trek on our list lies in the Kishtwar National Park. It blends the beauty of Kashmir with the kind of landscape we have not usually seen on treks.
On this trek, you witness the tall mountains that cordon off Kishtwar from rest of the landscape. These mountains rise tall, above 6000 m.
Another section that sets this trek apart is its forests. None of our treks in Jammu and Kashmir are known for their forests. Kishtwar is known for its forests. You trek through the heart of the Kishtwar National Park. The best of the woods of Kishtwar are on this trek.
7. Bodpathri Lakes Trek
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult, Level 2 | Duration: 7 days | Pick-up: Srinagar
Pamsar Lake is the second largest lake on the trek. Notice the scale of the lake, how small our explorer looks. Photo by Nitesh Kumar.
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There are treks like Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar and Nafran Valley. People post about these treks and go gaga. But the Bodpathri Lakes Trek, like an older brother, was waiting for its time. After being under the army's jurisdiction for decades, the trek can now stand up on its own and claim its place among the greatest treks of Kashmir.
8. Gurez Valley Trek
Difficulty: Moderate, Level 3 | Duration: 7 days | Pick-up: Srinagar
On this trek, you come across the sight of lush green and barren mountains at the same time. It's stunning! Photo by Nitesh Kumar
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India ends at Gurez. The significance of this is enormous. If you look at our country as a whole, we travel upwards from Kanyakumari. There comes the point where we cannot travel any further north. That part of our country is Gurez.
The significance is that the Gurez is the last latitude of India, which is why it is very unlike any other part of Kashmir. The topography changes totally even though it is only 6 hours north of Srinagar. You will notice it in the trees especially. The trees are different, and so are the way they are laid out in the valley. The Razdan pass you cross to get to Gurez pushes you to a very different landscape.
The Gurez valley trek has astoundingly different forests, grasslands and two lovely lakes (and one we camp beside). The scenery is spectacularly unusual.
9. Nafran Valley Trek
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult, Level 1 | Duration: 7 days | Pick-up: Srinagar
The picture-perfect Nafran Valley, with a horse grazing on the soft grass, manicured conifers and tall mountains rising in the backdrop. Photo by Vishal Pawar.
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For a long time, we’ve been looking for another trek in Kashmir that matches up to our blockbuster treks, Kashmir Great Lakes and Tarsar Marsar.
For us finding anything that compares to the great two is like looking for an elephant with wings. “It’s near impossible for any trek to compare with the Kashmir Great Lakes or the Tarsar Marsar. It is hard to match up to the grand meadows, the turquoise blue lakes and picture-perfect landscapes of these two treks,” says Sandhya UC, who led the exploration and documentation of the Kashmir Great Lakes (2011) and Tarsar Marsar (2015) treks.
10. Warwan Valley Trek
Difficulty: Difficult, Level 3 | Duration: 9 days | Pick-up: Srinagar
Warwan Valley takes you two huge alpine lakes with melting glaciers. The sheer scale of these lakes is stunning. Photo by Shubro.
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The Warwan Valley trek is the most exquisite in our country. There is no trek you would have done before this one that can match the experience of this trek. And there will be no trek you do after this that comes close.
After all, Warwan Valley is exceptionally stunning – even for Kashmir. Even if you have travelled to Kashmir before and seen Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and other places the valley offers – you are still going to be bowled over by the settings of Warwan Valley. It is unique to the region.
The valley’s remoteness and isolation compound this beauty. This is a side of Kashmir that even most Kashmiris haven’t seen.
Other popular monsoon treks you should know about
There are certain treks that gained unprecedented popularity in the monsoon. You'll find them to be incredibly crowded during the monsoon season. But the crowd takes away from the experience of trekking in the remote Himalayas.
Yet, these are the treks you should know about. These are among some of the greatest trails in our country.
Kashmir Great Lakes
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult, Level 2 | Duration: 7 days | Pick-up: Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
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Usually, on a high altitude trek, it’s normal to see one alpine lake or perhaps two. But on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, seven alpine lakes appear day after day, surprising you with their enormity and their unprecedented beauty every time! It is, hands down, the most beautiful trek of our country!
The best part is that every lake is unique and boasts of its own beauty. On the other hand, the landscape just after monsoon is spectacular, with lush meadows, and tiny flowers littered on the floor, so much so, that you’ll wonder where to step without trampling upon the flowers. The freshness of it can be overwhelming.
The eye-catching maple trees and plains of Satsar are special highlights of this trek, apart from the lakes themselves.
Tarsar Marsar Trek
Difficulty: Difficult, Level 3 | Duration: 8 days | Pick-up: Srinagar
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Tarsar Marsar is arguably the prettiest trek in India. This is a title we do not give treks lightly. Especially when its formidable sister trek, Kashmir Great Lakes, is in the picture.
However, Tarsar Marsar is a trek where alpine lakes take a life of their own. It is not just the fact that you get to camp beside these royal blue, snow-fed lakes (you don’t get this camping chance even at KGL). Or the secluded nature of these campsites (a Godsend in today’s trekking scenario!).
The best aspect of this trek, however, is the variety. Every day is an independent trek, and you never know what to expect. One day you’ll see fresh water musically flowing down over ledges, and the next day, you’ll see enormous lakes amidst mountains decorated with patches of snow. Sheep graze peacefully and horses sprint about freely.
The land is every bit as picturesque as a paradise ought to be.
Hampta Pass Trek
Difficulty: Difficult, Level 3 | Duration: 8 days | Pick-up: Manali
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Simply put, the Hampta Pass is Himachal’s Valley of Flowers. The landscape is strikingly similar to that of Valley of Flowers – a green narrow valley protected by snow-covered mountains – but there’s an added bonus here.
When you get onto the other side of the Hampta Pass, you’ll be in awe looking at the stark contrast from what you just left behind. The landscape that stretches in front of you is Spiti Valley, known for its barren stretches, rugged terrain and forget-me-not blue skies.
The trek ends with a bang on the last day, with a drive to Chandrataal, a striking blue alpine lake in a stark desert. It is indeed a trek of contrasting surprises!
Valley of Flowers Trek
Difficulty: Moderate, Level 2 | Duration: 6 days | Pick-up: Rishikesh
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It’s no surprise that Valley of Flowers is one of the most sought-after monsoon treks in India. Week after week, gorgeous flowers of intoxicating scents sprout from the wet earth, covering the valley in a carpet of colours. One week, the flowers are pink, and the next, they’re yellow and later, red and so on.
To add to that, the setting is an absolute joy; snow-capped mountains rise on either side and puffy clouds cling onto the valley.
Finally, an international to do in monsoon
View Kilimanjaro Trek
Difficulty: Difficult, Level 3 | Duration: 8 days | Pick-up: Moshi, Africa
Kilimanjaro really needs no introduction.
It has the distinction of being the highest peak in Africa and one of the Seven Summits. It gives you the unique experience of standing on top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
The best part is that it is one of the few seven summits that does not require technical expertise. Naturally, it’s a trek that is on every serious trekker’s bucket list.
With that, we've come to the end of this list.
Trekking is rapidly evolving in our country. From having merely one option of a Himalayan trek in monsoon, now we have more than 10. The various landscapes of the Himalayas, tinged with lush greenery are now accessible in monsoon.
This is why it's a great time to trek. You have options to choose from different regions, difficulty levels and landscapes.
Having said that, I'd love to know your favourite monsoon trek from this list. And, which one would you like to go for next?