Come December, the remote mountain village of Kotgaon in Uttarakhand braces up for its annual deluge of trekkers. Almost all of them trek to the Kedarkantha summit from there. The trail — all of 18 km — has exploded in popularity as the top winter trek of our country. Over the past couple of years, Kedarkantha is seeing almost 3,000 trekkers in the last week of December. If you ask me, the scene is not very different from Mall Road, Shimla.
Yet, lying next to it is this gem of a trail where nobody ventures. The Phulara Ridge trek blew us away when we accidentally discovered it in 2019. While the Phulara Ridge trek is yet to be discovered by the crowds, that is not the reason you must do this trek.
The biggest reason to do this trek is because Phulara Ridge is one of a kind. It is unlike any other trek in our already chosen trek list.
Most treks are either summit climbs — Kedarkantha, Kanamo, Pangarchulla, or pass crosses — Kuari Pass, Buran Ghati, Pin Bhaba Pass, Rupin Pass or meadow/lake treks — Dayara Bugyal, KGL, Tarsar, Kedartal & Brahmatal. I am able to classify almost all our treks into one of these three categories.
Phulara on the other hand is a ridge walk. A ridge is a geological feature where you have a continuous path connecting one mountain to the next always at the top of the mountain.
Why is this walk on the ridge so special
On the Phulara Ridge trek, you walk the ridge that connects Kedarkantha summit to the range behind Taluka village. To your left lies the Thamsa valley stretching from Sankri to Har Ki Dun. And to your right, the mountains roll in several layers to Jamunothri.
The ridge goes up and down but you are always on top of the mountain range. To put it in perspective, it is like walking on a summit for several hours. The views, the wind, the scenery are all as if you are on the top of the summit. In fact, it’s even better because as you walk on the ridge, the scenery rolls on. The feeling of being on top of the world feel remains with you all through the walk.
On the Phulara trek, your ridge walk extends for 4-5 hours. You are at an altitude of about 12,000 ft where you are still on the alpine meadows. Velvety carpeted slopes roll down on either sides. Big mountains open up all around you. You almost feel that the mountains are trekking with you!
Check out this video by our founder, Arjun Majumdar on why the Phulara Ridge is truly an unusual.
The beauty on the trek
The next reason why Phulara is a must-do is that it is extremely beautiful. Our exploration team led by Suhas Saya came back telling us it is as beautiful as the treks in Kashmir. When someone says that, we know what it means. You have a huge expanse of grassy meadows on the trek. The feeling of openness is unmatched.
The Phulara ridge trek starts off along with the Kedarkantha trek but quickly diverts left just before Juda Ka Talab. The first campsite Sikolta amidst lovely Oak and Pine trees matches up with the clearings you find on the Kedarkantha trek.
Next comes the Bhojgadi campsite just below the ridge. At 11,200 ft, Bhojgadi is almost above the treeline. The meadow leading to the ridge line extends wide. It is a precursor to the scenery in store for the next day.
Then comes the ridge walk. I have already spoken about how exhilarating ridge walks can be. Our ridge walk here lasts 5-6 hours. When you think that this is the highlight of the trek, I want to tell you that the best is yet to come.
Your next campsite Pushtara is what local lores are made of. In fact we decided to explore this trek because our local boys described Pushtara to us. The ridge walk was the added bonus.
Pushtara is this huge meadow just below the ridge line. Pushtara is so large that it is actually a part of two treks. The Phulara trek and the Phachukhandi Pass trek.
Camping at Phushtara, you can retrace your entire path on the ridge. The sunset at Phustara with the western light hitting the meadows makes it a picture-perfect evening in the mountains.
For a lot of us at Indiahikes, Pushtara is the highlight of the trek. " The first site of the Pushtara meadows reminded me of Bedni Bugyal on the Roopkund trek. The meadow was curved shaped with folds of green carpet and wildflowers spread out as far as your eyes could see. It was beautiful!" says Suhas Saya, Head DIY who explored this trek.
Seclusion on the trek
I started off by talking about the seclusion this trek offers. The trek is still unknown to most people in the popular trekking circuits. It has no dhabhas. It has no colony of campsites with music or campfires. It is still home to lots of birds. Do this trek for its seclusion.
We at Indiahikes love this trek and we want our discerning trekkers to experience this unique trail. The trail of moderate difficulty. You’ll find a lot more information on the trek on our Phulara Ridge trek page.
People who have done treks earlier must do this trek to experience this side of mountain walks. People who are new to trekking, do it. Do other types of treks also to truly appreciate Phulara.