Which is a better trek in winter? Deoriatal or Kedarkantha?

I’ll admit right away that I am terribly biased about Kedarkantha. It was the first winter trek explored by Indiahikes. The trek left a deep emotional impact on me. Back in 2011, things were not exactly going right with Indiahikes. We had empty coffers, low registrations and morally wondering whether to give up on our quest to discover more trails. That is when we decided to explore Kedarkantha in winter.  I was spell bound by the trek. Somehow over the years I have not able to get out of my fondness for Kedarkantha.

But if I have to leave aside my personal biases and don the hat of an objective trekker — things become difficult. Deoriatal-Chandrashila, as a winter trek, took my breath away. It left me delirious with the experience.

Trekkers enjoying the snow on the Detrital-Chandrashila Trek
Trekkers enjoying the snow at the Bhrujgali campsite on the Deoriatal-Chandrashila Trek

If I compare day to day then, grudgingly, I have to give it to Deoriatal. Deoriatal pips Kedarkantha as a better winter trek by a shade. Mind you, it is only a shade. I’ll give you my reasons.

Day 1

The moment you step on the Kedarkantha trek you are in the forests. Tall pine trees, oaks are around you. This is mesmerizing. Walking on the brown carpet of leaves feels like another world. In a couple of hours most trekkers are transported to a land of beautiful clearings. If you are lucky, you get snow on the forest floor.

The Pine Forests
The Pine Forests at Kedarkantha

Deoriatal is different. You climb over the picturesque village of Sari — a setting stolen off a postcard. The valley is deep and wide. In less than two hours trekkers get to Deoriatal. Mark my words, this campsite can leave even the skeptical gaping.

Deoriatal Chandrashila trek-Bhrujgali campsite-Indaihikes
Bhrujgali campsite PC: Amit Parekh

Snow covered Deoriatal with the massive Mt Chaukhamba towering over the lake makes most trekkers stand rooted to the spot. The sight is unbelievable and so is the setting of the lake. Surrounded by grassy knolls, it makes a bewitching place to observe the sight of these big mountains. It takes a while for it to sink that we actually camp here.

The Deoriatal campsite with Mt Chaukhamba in the background
The Deoriatal campsite with Mt Chaukhamba in the background

Day 2

Kedarkantha on Day 2, mostly on snow, climbs through oak forests, which incredibly get prettier as we get higher. It is almost like a fairy tale. The forest floor is covered by an unending carpet of untouched snow. In between, branches of trees climb to the sky. Through this you snake your way up the mountain. The sun plays tricks on the snowy landscape with its many designs of light and shade. It is like a vibrant wintry canvas coming alive.

A picturesque bridge
A picturesque bridge on the Kedarkantha Trek

Deoriatal on the other hand takes you through jungles on Day 2. These jungles are different every hour of the trek. I have yet to come across forests that have so much variety in a single day’s trek. There are dark forests and forests that look like tunnels. At other times the forests passes through clearings and streams. You will try and tip-toe your way to enjoy the humming of the various birds at Deoriatal. When you add the snow covered forest floor, frankly, it is too much of a good thing to take in a day.

 

At this stage both treks are neck to neck. It is hard to separate Kedarkantha from Deoriatal. Both treks are very different to each other, yet, they are equally beautiful. The climb through the forests of each trek has been exhilarating.

The difference between the treks comes in the summit climb. This is where Chandrashila edges out Kedarkantha. It is the view that you get from the summit. From the Chandrashila summit you get to see all the big mountains of India. Not only do you see them, you see them very close. You see Mt Nanda Devi, Trishul, Chaukhamba, Kedarnath, Neelkant and almost every other well known summits you can think of. Almost every trekker breaks down in tears at the Chandrashila Summit.

View from the Chandrashila Summit PC Aishwarya Rajendran
View from the Chandrashila Summit PC Aishwarya Rajendran

On the Kedarkantha summit the view is terrific too. It is a 360 degree view of mountain ranges. You feel you have climbed the top of the world because everything else is below you. You can see mountain ranges far and wide. What you miss out are the big names in mountain summits.

View from the Kedarkantha Summit
View from the Kedarkantha Summit

So there you have it. While I rate both treks equally, I’ll give Deoriatal Chandrashila a slight higher grade for the grand summit views. And perhaps for the variety in the jungles.

As a winter trek, frankly don’t choose one over the other. Do one this year and the other next. You can’t miss out on either. If you find groups full in one of the treks, simply choose the other.

Get more details about the Deoriatal-Chandrashila trek here.

Get more details about the Kedarkantha trek here.

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Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. Long years of trekking and facing problems in getting information about trails led Arjun to start Indiahikes. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking, he leads Indaihikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India.

39 thoughts on “Which is a better trek in winter? Deoriatal or Kedarkantha?

  1. Kedarkantha was my first himalayan trek, done in march 2015.. Absolutely bewitching! Got me hooked. Did Roopkund in sept-oct.2015 and it was grand but Kedarkantha holds a special place in my heart! Simply loved it

  2. Can kedarkantha or chandrashila trek be done on our own ? Though I would definitely like to go with Indiahikes, but would like to have answer for my question specially in respect to camps and food.

    1. Hi Rishab, you can do both the treks on your own. But you might need to hire a guide. You’ll have to take tents, sleeping bags and other equipment that will suit the kind of temperatures in winter in the Himalayas. You’ll have to carry gas and raw materials for food. It is more advisable to trek independently in summer than in winter, because finding drinking water is a little difficult in winter.

    1. Hi Akshay, that is not likely. The first winter snow falls only around mid-December. November will be cold and the mountain views will be crystal-clear, but there won’t be any snow!

  3. I would like to do a winter trek in mid Dec. I am willing for a snow trek. Which trek should i opt for Deoriatal Chandrashila or Kuari Pass.

    1. Hi Avishek, in mid-December, you can go for either Kuari or Deoriatal. Both of them will have snow. Assess your fitness and then choose the trek. Deoriatal is easier than Kuari Pass. So you can decide based on that.

  4. Hiiii swati. I have registered for my first ever Himalayan trek to Chandrashila. My tour date is on 18th December. Also this will be my solo hiking. I am a bit scared and excited as well. Need some guidance for my first ever solo Himalayan trek. Awaiting reply.

  5. Hi,
    Please advice, during January 1st week, which will be more hard trek between Har ki Dun and Kedar Kantha.
    Which one has the most scenic beauty and whether we will camp in snow.

    1. Hi Anuraag, Har Ki Dun is comparatively the more challenging trek. Both of these treks have entirely different kinds of scenic beauty and will have snow in December 🙂

  6. Hi, which is the best time for chandrashila trek if one wants to trek in snow, and see mountains beauty in clear weather ?

    1. December would be a good time for that. Specifically the second half of December. There will be snow and the weather is expected to be clear!

  7. Which one to choose among Kuari Pass trek, Kedarkantha trek and Chopta Chandrasheel Tunganath trek?
    Would be interested in trekking in snow. However, it would be my first trek.

    1. Hi Ashish, if it your first trek, then go for Chandrashila. If you’re trekking in the second half of December, there will be snow on all these treks. Chandrashila is the best of the lot for first timers. 🙂

    1. Hi Mandar, there will be snow on both the treks in March! Go for Deoriatal in March, because it is rhododendron season. It’s a grand experience seeing the forest trails full of flowers! 🙂

  8. Hi,
    Looking to do trek in january , would like to trek in snow and if camp site is in snow then would be best.
    which one is better kedarkantha, kuari pass or har ki dun?

    1. Hi Aashish, none of the above treks will be accessible in January. In January, the best trek to do to see snow would be Brahmatal. You can take a look at it here – indiahikes.com/brahmatal-trek/

  9. Hi. My trek window is about a week in the first week of April 2017. What would be best at that time – Kedarkantha or Deoriatal or something else. I have already done Chopta-Tungnath and Hamta Pass with other trek companies. Are these 2 easier than Hamta Pass (did in June 2016) or tougher?

    1. Hi Vikas

      The Hampta Pass trek is more challenging than the Deoriatal and Kedarkantha trek.

      In April, I think you should do the Kedarkantha trek. You will have tall pine trees surrounding your campsite. You do not see this en route Tungnath or on the Hampta Pass trek. 🙂

      Regards,

    1. Hi Janardhanan

      You can expect snow on the last day of your trek. This will be your summit climb to the top of Chandrashila. 🙂

      Regards

    2. Hi Janardhanan

      March is the best time to do the Deoriatal Chandrahsila trek. You will get to see snow on the last day of your trek – the Chandrashila summit climb.

      Regards

    1. Hi Neha
      You should do the Deoriatal Trek in March. This trek is laden with Rhododendrons. You will get to enjoy them in full bloom! And from the Deoriatal campsite, you will wake up to the sunrise on Mt Chaukhamba. It is truly amazing. These would be the two reasons for you to not miss out on the Deoriatal Trek.

      Regards

  10. Planning for a Deoriatal trek either in March or Apr (1st fortnight). Which one is advisable? Will there be snow in April?

    1. Hi Arijit, March- easily for the snow and the rhododendrons blooming along the lower trails. 🙂 The snow would be less in April.

  11. Hi,

    I am planning for a trek in Feb end or March 2017 and I have “Kedarkantha ” and “Har ki Dun” in mind. Can someone suggest which is a better option? I am looking for something around 7-8 days in total.

    1. Hi sonali we are also going there on 5th March and how many persons you have because we are 5 person and I think roopkund is not opened so we are now plan for kedarnath or Hari ki dun and we visited at chopta,tungnath and Chandragupta in Jan but we left 700 mts for Chandrashila because of too much snow like 4.5 feet snow there so we left and now going for kedarnath.

    1. Hi SJ

      March is not the time for challenging treks. There is way too much snow! You can only reach around 12,000 ft. April, however, has Goechala. You can look at doing that if you want a difficult trek.

      1. THanks for your response. Which is a better trek in last week of March – Kedarkantha or Deoriatal-chandrashila? Which has more snow, better views on more challengning. And lastly which of these two gives a feeling of wilderness?

    1. Hi Saksham, Deoriatal is a better option in March definitely. Rhododendrons will be in full bloom. It is a rare sight that you see only for a month or two in a year. It lights up any photograph!

  12. I have already done Kedarkantha last year in April. If I have to choose between Chandrashila or Deorital for the end of March, which one should I pick considering I would want to go for a moderate trek and would definitely like to witness snow up in the mountains?

    1. Hi Arun, Both Deoriatal and Chandrashila are part of the same trek.:) You don’t have to choose between them!

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