Tamil Nadu is home to some of the most famous hill stations in South India. Ooty and Kodaikanal are the most sought out places in this state. But if you look closely, apart from these touristy destinations, Tamil Nadu has many trekking places too. There are trails hidden deep in the western and eastern ghats. There are waterfalls nestled in the lush green forest and lakes in the Nilgiri ranges.
Majority of these treks are relatively unknown and under-explored to date. Thus, these pristine trails are the best spots for you to be one with nature.
The beauty is that these treks are dispersed all over the state. This means that whether you are from Chennai, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Vellore, Madurai or some other place in Tamil Nadu, you can easily find a trek near your city. Not just that, some of these treks are closer to even Bangalore and Munnar.
Here, I’ve curated 8 best trekking places in Tamil Nadu. Let’s dive into the details of these treks!
1. Sathuragiri Hill Trek
Starting point of the trek: Thaniparai, Virudhunagar
Distance from the main city: 78 km from Madurai
Best route to get there:https://goo.gl/maps/9da7e62GqCJjZz2H8
View of the Western Ghats from the Sathuragiri Hill top. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Sathuragiri Hill trek is one of the most sacred treks in Southern Tamil Nadu. It is a Western ghats trail that falls inside the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary. It also comes under the UNESCO Western Ghats World Heritage Site.
The Sathuragiri trek is known for its rough and challenging terrain that gives you an adrenaline rush. On this trek, the expansive and serene views of the Western Ghats start unfolding in front of you as you make your way to the top.
The rich flora and fauna on this trek draws your attention every now and then. The sathuragiri trek is home to 275 species of avifauna including 14 endemic species.
The Sathuragiri trek is a moderate trek that can be completed by both fit beginners and experienced trekkres.
2. Athri Hill Trek
Starting point of the trek: Alwarkurichi
Distance from the main city: 210 km from Madurai
Best route to get there:https://goo.gl/maps/qircsAwWvNf2J8AK8
Kadana Nathi Dam, starting point of the Athri Hill trek, sits against the beautiful backdrop of the Western Ghats. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The Athri Hill Trek is a short yet beautiful trek located in the Pothigai mountain range of the Western Ghats near the village of Alwarkurichi. A hidden gem that is yet to be discovered by outdoor lovers, this trek is 25 kilometers from the Tenkasi district and 210 km away from the famous Madurai.
The beautiful Kadana Nathi Dam (Nathi means River in Tamil), dense forest trails, an unusually shaped limestone cave and spectacular views of the Western Ghats are just some of the highlights of the Athri hill trek.
3. Kookal Waterfalls Trek
Starting point of the trek: Kookal
Distance from the main city: 35 km from Kodaikanal
Best route to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/2PcimZBVjpNF3zXFA
The multi-layered Kookal Waterfall. Picture by Madhuri Ruperee
Though Kodaikanal is one of the most popular hill stations in South India, Kookal Waterfalls despite being in close proximity, remains a hidden gem. It’s because to even get a glimpse of this waterfall, you need to trek for 6 km.
A scenic village called Kookal is the base of this trek. The lush greenery and an aura of Kookal village gives you a glimpse of what you are about to experience. The Kookal waterfalls trek starts from a lovely Kookal lake and gradually takes you through a downhill trail with spectacular views of the surrounding Palani hills. The trek then winds up in a dense forest before rewarding you with the majestic sight of the multi-layered Kookal waterfall.
Kookal Waterfalls is a must-do trek the next time you’re in Kodaikanal. The serenity of this place helps you experience the popular hill station in a new light.
4. Parvathamalai Trek
Starting point of the trek: Thenmathimangalam
Distance from the main city: 191 km from Chennai
Best route to get there:https://goo.gl/maps/VzkMgoCs6Luxewt76
Magical Forest section on the way to Parvathamalai Peak. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
The Parvathamalai Trek is one of the most sacred and exciting treks in southern India. It is an Eastern ghats trail that falls inside the Parvathamalai reserved forest, within the Kanchi section of the Pudupalayam range.
The trek is known for its rough and challenging terrain that gives trekkers an adrenaline rush. Trekkers also love the expansive and serene views of the Eastern ghats they get to experience as they make their way to the top. It is also popular amongst devotees who take the challenging journey to pay their respects to a Shiva temple that has existed in some form or the other for the last 2000 odd years.
The trek can be done by fit beginners. It will test your endurance, even if you are an experienced trekker.
5. Swamimalai Hill Trek
Starting point of the trek: Mangalam village, Yelagiri
Distance from the main city: 92 km from Vellore
Best route to get there:https://goo.gl/maps/67htp2deQWffTZfe9
View from the summit of Swamimalai Hill trek. Picture by Nayana Jambhe
Swamimalai trek is one of the must-do treks in Yelagiri. Situated at an altitude of 4,338 ft, it’s the highest point of Yelagiri.
The trek starts with a walk in the quaint Mangalam village, followed by the paddy fields. The trail then climbs gradually to the forest office. From there, the trail enters into a dense forest setting. It has narrow man-made steps initially, but after a distance it becomes narrower with no stairs. Soon you’ll reach the summit from where you get a stunning view of the entire Yelagiri range. For this view alone, the whole trek is worth it.
The Swamimalai trek also has a rich variety of flora and fauna. The abundance of “touch me not” flowers as you near the summit feels like a reward for the climb. The trail is full of butterflies. It’s like you are in a butterfly park. The best part is they follow you all the way to the summit and are a nice company to have on a trek.
6. Musattu Hill Trek
Starting point of the trek: Varatanapalli, Krishnagiri
Distance from the main city: 120 km from Vellore
Best route to get there: https://goo.gl/maps/jXjrwUyYzcbmUCyp8
View of the clustered hills, with the Shiva hill in the foreground, from the top of Musattu Hill. Picture by Ajay Vignesh
Musattu Hill is located in Varatanapalli village, which is 12 kilometers from the Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu. The Musattu hill trek is a pristine, undiscovered beauty in Krishnagiri.
The beautiful farmlands, untried dense forest trail full of flowers and butterflies, marvelous isolated temple, and a spectacular view of mountain ranges are some of the things you can expect from this trek. And there is more to it. The trail starts revealing itself as you proceed further.
Another interesting fact about Musattu hill is it’s the only hill range in India where all the three Hindu lords - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are worshiped. The Vishnu hill is called the Musattu hill.
The Musattu Hill trek is just 110 km away from Bangalore. This makes it for a great day trek to do from Bangalore as well.
7. Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek
Starting point of the trek: Suryanelli
Distance from the main city: 35 km from Munnar
Best route to get there:https://goo.gl/maps/Xg9aeRSpGFbiSrkb7
A magical sunrise from the Kolukkumalai Peak. Picture by Joseph Mathew
The Kolukkumalai Sunrise Trek as aptly named offers you one of the most heavenly sunrise views. The trek is situated in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This trek takes you through Kottagudi Tea Plantations, home to the world’s highest tea plantations!
Kolukkumalai is a gateway to the second highest peak in the western ghats, Meesapulimala. Though this trek route has been closed and has been declared as a reserved property now, you can still catch a glimpse of this beauty from the top of Kolukkumalai. As you head uphill, on your left is Tamil Nadu and on your right is Kerala.
Though technically the trek is in Tamil Nadu, the only accessible route to this trek is from Suryanelli town of Munnar. The views from the top are very rewarding for a short 1.5 km trek. The Kolukkumalai trek can be done by both beginners and experienced trekkers.
8. Nilgiris Green Lake Trek
Starting point of the trek: Karakolly
Distance from the main city: 87 km from Ooty
Best route to get there:https://goo.gl/maps/CG1Ur7vCweyCpmzv8
Picturesque Nilgiris Green Lake captured from the other side of the shore.
Nilgiris Green Lake is an enormous lake situated in the middle of a dense forest and around 87 km away from Ooty. This is one of the best trekking places for 2 days trek in Tamil Nadu.
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the Green Lake Trek. Passing through the densest forests, with a small patch of pine and fragrant eucalyptus trees, this trail skirts an enormous green lake. Tunnel-like thickets and Switzerland-like meadows crop up every few kilometers.
On the second day, deep, dark deciduous forests and creaky bamboo forests unfold on either side of the trail. It’s hard to believe that such a gem of a trail lies just an overnight journey away from Bangalore, on the outskirts of Ooty.
This brings us to the end of this list of 8 best trekking places in Tamil Nadu.
But if you are looking for treks in your state, you can check our Trek Library as well - https://indiahikes.com/do-it-yourself-treks
If you have done any of these treks or have any recommendations that you think I should add to this list, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, if you can help us document these treks further, or new treks that trekkers can do on their own, do apply to be a Remote Trek Documenter. It will greatly help us take DIY trekking forward in our country!