There are a few trek routes in Himachal Pradesh that all trekkers know about. And a few treks that no one knows about. It’s mostly the unknown treks that catch you off guard and throw surprises at you. The Hatu Peak is such a trek.
Hatu Peak Trek is a day hike which packs in everything that you get in a full-fledged Himalayan trek – dark pine forests, superb mountain views, enchanting meadows and the thrill of walking on snow, provided you time it right.
The trek starts at Narkhanda, 63 km from Shimla. So, it is perfect for those looking for a weekend trek from Delhi. Time it during the first few weeks of March and you can treat yourself to fresh, untouched snow.
The Hatu peak trek is a trail to the summit of the Hatu hill that overlooks Narkhanda. The sacred shrine of Hatu Mata atop the hill, a temple revered by the locals, makes a fitting finale to the trek.
Author: Vaibhav Chauhan
Vaibhav is associated with Indiahikes as a Writer & Chief Explorer. He is an avid traveler with a passion for trekking in Indian Himalayas. With his roots in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh, the love for the mountains is in his blood. When not travelling he likes to spend time interacting with like-minded trek enthusiasts and read books on travel and mountaineering.
Alternative Indiahikes treks you can do
Hatu Peak is a great trek to do. However, the trek is too short. When you’re putting so much effort to go to the Himalayas you might as well stay a night or two. You miss on spendingsome time watching the sunset or sunrise. You miss the camaraderie and conversation with fellow trekkers. We have a couple of Indiahikes treks that are a good alternative to Bashal Peak. They’re longer by a day or two but you get to do the treks at a more relaxed pace.
Deoban is a great weekend trek to do if you do not have much time on you hands. The trek starts at Lokhandi which is a 2 hour drive from Dehradun. That makes it very easily accessible from New Delhi. But the best part of the trek is the views it offers. On a clear day, you can spot close to 55 mountains from the highest point of this trek — including Nanda Devi, the tallest mountain entirely in India. This is a rare feast for the eyes. It is difficult to find these views on a seven day trek, much less a two day one!
If you have a couple of days more in hand, Beas Kund is another great option. The starting point of the trek is Solang, just an hour’s drive from Manali. That makes it very easy to accessible. If you’re a beginner, it is the perfect trek with great views of biggest mountains of Manali. Moreover, you get to stand right at the base of the Pir Panjal Range.
How to do the Trek
- Altitude: 3,400 m (11,155 feet)
- Time taken: 7-8 hours, 14 km
From Narkhanda, take the road that goes towards Thanedar. Walk for about a kilometre, until you reach a junction where three roads intersect. This junction is in a large clearing surrounded by tall pine trees. Take the narrow road in the middle that climbs up into the pine forest. A signboard will also show you the way.
The beauty of the pine forest will strike you the very moment you get on the trail. The pines stand impressively tall and majestic. You know the forests must be many centuries old by their sheer girth. At times, light rarely touches the surface of the road.
The path veers eastwards around a bend and continues its gradual upward climb through the now sunlight-facing pines. Walk for another hour on this deserted road as it snakes around the mountainside. Three kilometres into the trek, the road pops out to a small clearing on your left, to reveal your first view of the snow-covered mountain ranges of the greater Himalayas.
The road switches back quickly to climb into a bigger clearing that is marked by a few flat-roofed shepherd’s huts. This is Gujjar Kotha. A small pond that overlooks a superb view of the mountain ranges makes it an ideal spot to take a break.
Continue on the road for another kilometre, until it suddenly makes a wide turn to the south and leaves the ridge that follows the road on the left. This is where you leave the comfort of the road and turn into an explorer. From here, you have to find your own trail to the Hatu peak.
Get on the ridge and get on the well-marked trail that gets into the forest. If you’re hiking in March, the forest floor is likely to be snow covered. Continue up on the ridge. Avoid going left or right until you meet the road again as it climbs its way over the ridge. Cross the road and continue to climb on the ridge under the cover of pine and oak trees.
The trail climbs quickly and gains considerable height. Throughout this stretch, it maintains a steady straight line toward Hatu peak. At a few points, the trail flattens, taking in the curve of the mountain, but generally maintains an eastwardly direction. Just as you mark 11,000 feet and seem out of breath, the trail opens out to the top of Hatu peak.
The top of the hill opens up to a panoramic view of the greater Himalayan range. Spend time taking in the beauty of the place and a well-deserved lunch. Grab a quick look of the Hatu Mata temple and relax for a while before heading back.
Descent: Head back the way you came. For those who want to avoid the steep descent, take the motor road back to Narkhanda.
One can also trek further south-east from Hatu Peak to Jor Bagh (10,991 feet). It is an hour’s trek through oak forests. Jor Bagh is a meadow, where one can camp for the night and head back the next day.
Camping overnight can give more options to explore the area. From Jor Bagh, one can do multiple excursions.
1. Karena Peak (10,826 feet) – A lovely green hilltop near Hatu Peak is perfect for sunrise views of the mountains. Karena Peak is approximately three kilometres from Jor Bagh towards Hatu Peak and Narkanda trail.
2. Baghi Village (6,844 feet) – A refreshing five-kilometer descent via a forested trail to Baghi Village is a good option to exit the trek on a high. Baghi Village is an apple belt from Shimla district. It is connected with road-head twenty-four kilometre from Narkanda.
3. Tanni Jubber Lake (8,628 feet) – A rare and seldom trekked route from Jor Bagh, goes to a popular lake near Thanedar. A seven-kilometre trek goes via most dense forest trail you will find in the region. Be aware of lurking Himalayan Bears here. It is advisable to have a local guide who knows the way past the forest ridge. Tani Jubber lake is connected with road-head and can be a good exit point for the trek.
Picture inputs from Hiramani Kashyap trek to Hatu Peak (2015) and Arjun Majumdar.
Get trek fit!
The secret to ascending any trail lies in building your cardiovascular endurance. You can begin by jogging everyday. Ideally, you should be able to jog 4 km in 20 minutes before the start of the trek. It takes time to be able to cover this distance in the given time. Start slow and increase your pace everyday. Swimming, cycling and stair climbing without too many breaks in between can help too. Strength This is another area you should work on. You will need to build strength in your muscles and in your core body. You can do some squats to strengthen your leg muscles. Do around 3 sets of squats, with 8 squats in each set. Apart from this, you can add planks and crunches to your work out.
Another aspect that will help you trek comfortably is flexibility. For this, you can do some stretching exercises – stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, lower back muscles and shoulders regularly. Carrying a backpack, however light, can become a strain after a while. These exercises will help you to be in good shape before the trek. Working out indoors
If you can’t go out and jog because of time and space constraints, here’s a video you can use to work out indoors.
What to pack?
No, stuffing it all in isn’t the right way to do it Packing a backpack correctly saves precious time that you might waste trying to find your things later. It is wise to spend some time on learning what really goes into packing a backpack.
What should I pack? On a trek, you only get what you take. Something as simple as a forgotten matchbox can cripple your cooking plans throughout the trek. So, it’s essential to prepare early and prepare well. To begin with, make a checklist. While shopping, remember this thumb rule – keep it light. “Every item needs to be light. This ensures that your backpack, on the whole, stays light,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes. Balancing out heavy items with light ones isn’t going to have the same effect as having all light items. “Always opt for good quality, light items,” says Sandhya.
How much should my bag weigh?
“Your backpack for a weekend trek should weigh between 8 and 10 kg,” explains Arjun Majumdar, co-founder of Indiahikes, “To break it down, your tent should weigh around 2.5 kg, your sleeping bag, around 1.5 kg, and the ration, stove and clothes should constitute the other 5 kg.” The best way to plan is by concentrating on the basic necessities – food, shelter and clothes. Gather only those things that you’ll need to survive. Do not pack for ‘if’ situations. “That’s one of the common mistakes that people make – packing for ‘if situations’. It only adds to the baggage that you can do without on a trek,” says Sandhya.
One good way to go about it is to prepare a list of absolute essentials. Start with the most essential and end with the least essential. That way, when you feel you are overshooting the limit, you can start eliminating from the bottom. Another tip is to be smart while packing clothes. Invest in light. wash and wear fabrics. “Replace a sweater with two t-shirts,” adds Sandhya. Layering is the mantra when it comes to trekking. Refer to Sandhya’s clothes list to pack smart.
How to pack The thumb rule for this one is to eliminate air spaces. Make sure that everything is packed tightly, especially clothes and jackets, as they tend to take up maximum air space. Put in all the large items first. Then squeeze in the smaller ones in the gaps. This ensures minimum air space. A good way to pack clothes is by using the Ranger Roll method.
Where to pack Bottom Sleeping bag: Make this your base layer. Sleeping bags tend to be voluminous, but do not weigh much. They’re perfect for the bottom of the bag. Tent: Just like the sleeping bag, even tents are voluminous and light. Keep the tent poles separately and place the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Middle Heavy jacket: Roll up the jacket in a tight ball and place it in the middle of the backpack, close to your back. The middle region of the backpack should always have the heaviest items. You can store other things like ration or mini stoves in the middle. Other clothes: Roll other clothes and place them in the remaining space, to fill air gaps.
Top Water: Water, although heavy, needs to be easily accessible. So put it in the top most region of your backpack. Medicine box: This is another component that you wouldn’t want to be scavenging for when in need. Poncho: It could rain at any time in the mountains. So, ponchos should be accessible easily. Also, having a waterproof poncho at the top of the backpack provides additional waterproofing to items in the bag.