Difficulty

Easy-Moderate | Level 2

Duration

6 Days

Highest Altitude

12,500 ft

Age

8 to 58 years

Duration

6 Days

Age

8 to 58 years

Difficulty

Easy-Moderate | Level 2

Highest Altitude

12,500 ft

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Trek fee

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Kedarkantha Trek

One of the Finest Summit Climbs for Beginners

Kedarkantha (not to be confused with the popular Temple Kedarnath) is a 6-day long trek in Govind Pashu Vihar National Park in Uttarakhand (6 when including the travel days from Dehradun to the base camp and back). Kedarkantha is easily one of the most popular treks in India — popular amongst seasoned trekkers and beginners alike.

There are many reasons why it is a very popular trek to do in the Indian Himalayas.  The most important of them is this — the summit climb.

The summit climb of Kedarkantha is a very rewarding one.  Right from the base camp of the trek, the summit looms large.  As you start your trek in the early hours of the morning and steadily climb up the steep slope, the world opens up around you.

The climb is not easy.  The entire stretch is steadily steep.  As you get closer to the summit, it gets tricky as well.  But the big mountains of the upper Himalayas keep you company until you finally reach the summit.

As you stretch yourself and take in the views of the Himalayas from the summit, you feel a strong sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. This is an unparalleled feeling.

Very few treks offer the same adventure, making it popular among beginners for its finest summit climb.

Outside the summit, the trek is also unique for its beautiful clearings.  Very rarely you will find stunning clearings on a trek that makes way for some rest spots and beautiful campsites.  This trek is filled with clearings on all the different routes.  What's more, the clearings are just at the right locations, giving you beautiful vantage points to appreciate the trek and its views.

The third biggest reason this trek is unique is its beautiful forests.  All three routes have beautiful diverse forests that will immerse you.  If you are not careful, you will get lost in them (in a good way).

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Kedarkantha Videos

Watch these videos to plan and prepare for your trek.

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Quick Itinerary

Day-wise elevation chart of the Kedarkantha trek.

Day 1

Drive from Dehradun to Kotgaon

Drive Distance: 200 km | Duration: 10-11 hours | Pick up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Grand Legacy (near Laal Pull) Hotel, Dehradun

Transport will be arranged at 6.30 AM. The cab can also pick you up from Library Chowk, Mall Road, Mussoorie at 7.30 AM. This cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs.6,500 per vehicle for an SUV, shared among 5-6 trekkers, or Rs.10,000 per vehicle for a Tempo Traveller, shared among 11-12 trekkers.

Day 2

Trek from Kotgaon to Khujaai

Trek Distance: 5.20 km | Trek Duration: 5 hours | Altitude Gain: 5,570 ft to 8,920 ft

Moderate. Gradual ascent for 2 – 2.5 hours followed by a steep ascent. Carry 2 litres of water. There’s one water source half way through the trek

Day 3

Trek from Khujaai to Dhoka

Trek Distance: 3.50 km | Trek Duration: 3.5 hours | Altitude Gain: 8,920 ft to 10,870 ft

Easy. A half kilometre of ascent to a meadow followed by half a kilometre of a level walk. Gradual ascent which becomes steep for the last 300 metres to Pukhrola. Carry sufficient water. You will find streams along the trail to refill your water bottles.

Day 4

Trek from Dhoka to Mohlani via Kedarkantha Summit

Trek Distance: 9 km | Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Altitude Gain: 10,870 ft to 8,270 ft via 12,500 ft

Easy to moderate. 2-3 hours steep ascent to reach the summit. Steep descent to Akhoti Thatch. Carry two litres of water. The first water source is at Talkhetra, around 2 hours into the descent.

Day 5

Trek from Mohlani to Kotgaon

Trek Distance: 4 km | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | Altitude Gain: 8,270 ft to 5,570 ft

Easy. Gradual descent all the way. Carry sufficient water. There is one water source, around 1.5 hours into the trek.

Day 6

Drive back from Kotgaon to Dehradun

Drive Distance: 200 km | Drive Duration: 10-11 hours | Drop off point for Indiahikes trekkers: Grand Legacy (near Laal Pull) Hotel, Dehradun

This transport cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs.6,500 per vehicle for an SUV, shared among 5-6 trekkers, or Rs.10,000 per vehicle for a Tempo Traveler, shared among 11-12 trekkers.

Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.

IMPORTANT POINTS

- It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.

- At the base camp, your stay will be arranged in lodges

- On the trek, you will be staying 2 in a tent

- We have a Cloak Room facility at the base camp for excess luggage. Do not leave behind any valuables in the cloakroom.

Please note: Twin sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.

Day-wise elevation chart of the Kedarkantha trek.

PRO-TIPS

Onward Travel

If you're planning your travel, choose to travel by bus instead of train. They're usually on time compared to trains. If you're travelling by train, choose the Jan Shatabdi Express and reach Dehradun a day before Day 1 of the trek.

Return Travel

While returning, you will reach Dehradun between 6.00 PM and 7.00 PM. Plan your travel any time after 9.00 PM from Dehradun. The Nanda Devi Express will suit your schedule well.

Day 1

Drive from Dehradun to Kotgaon

Drive Distance: 200 km | Duration: 10-11 hours | Pick up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Grand Legacy (near Laal Pull) Hotel, Dehradun

Transport will be arranged at 6.30 AM. The cab can also pick you up from Library Chowk, Mall Road, Mussoorie at 7.30 AM. This cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs.6,500 per vehicle for an SUV, shared among 5-6 trekkers, or Rs.10,000 per vehicle for a Tempo Traveller, shared among 11-12 trekkers.

Day 2

Trek from Kotgaon to Khujaai

Trek Distance: 5.20 km | Trek Duration: 5 hours | Altitude Gain: 5,570 ft to 8,920 ft

Moderate. Gradual ascent for 2 – 2.5 hours followed by a steep ascent. Carry 2 litres of water. There’s one water source half way through the trek

Day 3

Trek from Khujaai to Dhoka

Trek Distance: 3.50 km | Trek Duration: 3.5 hours | Altitude Gain: 8,920 ft to 10,870 ft

Easy. A half kilometre of ascent to a meadow followed by half a kilometre of a level walk. Gradual ascent which becomes steep for the last 300 metres to Pukhrola. Carry sufficient water. You will find streams along the trail to refill your water bottles.

Day 4

Trek from Dhoka to Mohlani via Kedarkantha Summit

Trek Distance: 9 km | Trek Duration: 7-8 hours | Altitude Gain: 10,870 ft to 8,270 ft via 12,500 ft

Easy to moderate. 2-3 hours steep ascent to reach the summit. Steep descent to Akhoti Thatch. Carry two litres of water. The first water source is at Talkhetra, around 2 hours into the descent.

Day 5

Trek from Mohlani to Kotgaon

Trek Distance: 4 km | Trek Duration: 4-5 hours | Altitude Gain: 8,270 ft to 5,570 ft

Easy. Gradual descent all the way. Carry sufficient water. There is one water source, around 1.5 hours into the trek.

Day 6

Drive back from Kotgaon to Dehradun

Drive Distance: 200 km | Drive Duration: 10-11 hours | Drop off point for Indiahikes trekkers: Grand Legacy (near Laal Pull) Hotel, Dehradun

This transport cost has to be borne by trekkers and paid directly to the driver. Cost of the cab – Rs.6,500 per vehicle for an SUV, shared among 5-6 trekkers, or Rs.10,000 per vehicle for a Tempo Traveler, shared among 11-12 trekkers.

Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.

IMPORTANT POINTS

- It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a copy of their photo id for entry at forest check posts on the trek.

- At the base camp, your stay will be arranged in lodges

- On the trek, you will be staying 2 in a tent

- We have a Cloak Room facility at the base camp for excess luggage. Do not leave behind any valuables in the cloakroom.

Please note: Twin sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.

PRO-TIPS

Onward Travel

If you're planning your travel, choose to travel by bus instead of train. They're usually on time compared to trains. If you're travelling by train, choose the Jan Shatabdi Express and reach Dehradun a day before Day 1 of the trek.

Return Travel

While returning, you will reach Dehradun between 6.00 PM and 7.00 PM. Plan your travel any time after 9.00 PM from Dehradun. The Nanda Devi Express will suit your schedule well.

It's a memorable experience to trek over mountain ridges in the meadows.

Picture by: Abhishek

Meadows of Kedarkantha

Kedarkantha Trek in Winter

Winter is the most popular season on the Kedarkantha trek. From December to April, Kedarkantha makes for a terrific trek in virgin snow, with pretty campsites and astonishingly wide clearings in the forests. Here's a peek at how the trek looks in winter

Trekking through the pine and oak forest of Kedarkantha. Photo by Bappaditya Chandra

Trekkers ascending from the Pukhrola Campsite. Photo by Hayat Amiree

A snowy Pukhrola Campsite in winter. Picture by Anirudh Gargi

Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head of Experience

Lakshmi Selvakumaran heads the Experience team at Indiahikes. She handles the Learning and Development and Training functions of Indiahikes. She is keen to make Indiahikes the best learning place for everyone. With her team, she is constantly working toward making trekking a more sustainable sport in India. She is a strong advocate of zero waste and a vegan lifestyle.

Here’s Lakshmi talking about one of the top treks in our country.

What I Like and Don’t Like About the Kedarkantha Trek

What I Like About the Kedarkantha Trek

Lakshmi Selvakumaran, Head of Experience

Lakshmi Selvakumaran heads the Experience team at Indiahikes. She handles the Learning and Development and Training functions of Indiahikes. She is keen to make Indiahikes the best learning place for everyone. With her team, she is constantly working toward making trekking a more sustainable sport in India. She is a strong advocate of zero waste and a vegan lifestyle. Here’s Lakshmi talking about one of the top treks in our country.

1. The Drive to the Base Camp

It is one of the most beautiful drives you will ever have to any trek.  The 18 km stretch of the dense pine forest after Purola and the drive through the Mori valley alongside River Tons will stay with you for a long time.  Do not miss to watch out for them.

The drive from Purola to Gaichawan Gaon snakes through lovely pine forests. It’s worth the long journey! Picture by Sreenath

2. The Homestays

If you are trekking with Indiahikes, you are in for a treat.  Very rarely will you get to experience how the local people live?  In this trek, you get to see it.  You will be spending both your first night and the last night in homestays in Gaichawan Gaon.

Although they are close to each other, their houses look different, they dress different and their lifestyle is a little different.  You will get to experience this up close.

The homestays of Gaichawan Gaon where you'll stay on Day 1 and Day 5 of your trek. Picture by Jothiranjan

3. The Forests

When you are in the forests of Kedarkantha, especially the stretch from Gaichawan Gaon to the summit, you will feel this sense of oneness with your surroundings more strongly.

Many factors bring this about: 

 The forests in this stretch are the least travelled.  Apart from the villagers, only our trekkers take this route.  So in a lot of ways, this route has stayed pristine.  If you are not careful, you can get easily lost.

Unlike the other forests, where the forest looks almost manicured and arranged, this stretch of the forest has its wilderness intact.  You will feel it strongly the moment you enter it. 

 The forest is extremely dense and immersive.   The sun plays hide and seek and this makes this stretch all the more magical.  

 It is also diverse.  Along with Deodar, Pine and Oak, you will see more variety of trees and shrubs that you do not see on the other side.

The forest from Gaichwan Gaon to the summit is one of my favourite forests that I have ever trekked in.  The diversity, contrasting colours, and the density – all give a very surreal feel to this section.

I would be most happy to do this trek again and again just for these forests.  However, the other sides of Kedarkantha equally offer some of the most beautiful forests climbs in the Himalayas.

You’ll not see golden reflection Oak forests like the Kedarkantha trek on any other trail. Picture by Jothiranjan

4. The Clearings

Kedarkantha has many such clearings on all sides.  No other trek offers such clearings.  I have done almost 11 treks so far and I am yet to find a trek that has such beautiful clearings.

It is one trek in the entire Himalayas, where you have no dearth of campsites.  One of the reasons we have been able to open multiple routes in this trek is because of these clearings.

Other factors make these clearings even more special.  They are:  

 Each of the clearings on this trek is so uniquely different from the other. 

 The views you get from each of the clearings are stunning.  The sunsets from these clearings are absolutely out of the world. 

 The clearings are very well spaced along the route.  So, with the forest and the clearings together, each day’s trek feels complete. You will find a clearing every 2 hours of the trek.  Such is the number and ideal placement of these clearings.

One of the clearings on your way to the Kedarkantha summit. Picture by Bappaditya Chandra

5. Multiple Routes

Being a standalone mountain, this trek is blessed with multiple routes to reach the summit and all of them are unique and beautiful in their way.

This allows everyone to explore this trek in the way we want to – going with the popular route or choosing the quieter trail, adapting the route depending on the weather, etc.  There are plenty of ways to reach the summit.

There are many routes all around the mountain that one can choose as per their choice. Picture by the Indaihikes team

6. The Sunsets

This trek offers some of the most dramatic sunsets and it is precisely so because of the placement of the campsites.  Jalota and Pukhrola both face the western side of the sky and are both wide open to the sky.  This makes the sunsets along this trail absolutely must watch on the trek.

The sunsets I have witnessed have stayed with me until now. All I need to do is close my eyes and remember to be transported back there.

Sunset at Jalota campsite is an absolute treat to watch. Picture by Jayanth R

7. The Summit

The trek is famous for its summit and is rightly so.  The first is that this is a proper summit marked by a cairn.  Of all the 12,500 ft treks in the Himalayas, Kedarkantha is one of the two summit treks.  The rest are all mostly passes or high points on a range.

This itself is special.  The second is the route to the summit.  As soon as you clear the tree line, the summit is right in front of you.  So, right from the beginning of the trek, you know where you are trekking to and it creates an instant aspiration.  This builds the challenge of the trek right from the beginning of the summit day.

Deoriatal - Chandrashila which is the other summit trek, doesn’t have such views of the summit until you trek beyond Tungnath.

The third is the slope.  The summit is a steady climb at almost an inclination of 45 to 60 degrees.  In many places, especially in snow, it gets challenging even for experienced trekkers.  This again makes the summit climb a rewarding one.

Fourth, is the views that accompany along.  Although the views are not the most prominent or the highlights of the trek, the upper Himalayas do accompany the entire way up.  This does add a charm to the entire climb giving respite when you take a break.

The view from the Kedarkantha summit is extremely rewarding with the Garhwal Himalayas spreading to the horizon. Picture by Nupur

What I Don't Like About the Kedarkantha Trek

1. The Crowd

I will be very frank here that during the peak winter season, the Sankri route is extremely crowded.  As a person looking for peace, I would not want to do the trek during this time.  But luckily, we do have the alternative routes that we, at Indiahikes, run precisely to give you the exclusiveness you will want while trekking.

We talk about this route in more detail below but just giving you an idea of what you can expect if you want to take the Sankri route normally.

2. The Hydro Project

As I mentioned before, the trip to the base camp is one of the most beautiful ones – especially driving by River Tons from Mori till Naitwar.  However, this charming route has changed dramatically ever since the Hydroelectric project started along this route.  Frankly, I am not a fan of it.  Because of the deforestation that this stretch has seen ever since the project started.

So, there you go. Aside from these, there is hardly anything that I will fault with this trek.  Precisely why, I believe it is one of the most famous treks in the Indian Himalayas today.

Know Your Trek

We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a superficial experience.

Use this section to learn about the Kedarkantha trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Trekkers find that extremely useful.

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

PRO TIPS

Why Fitness Matters on Kedarkantha Trek

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On Easy-Moderate treks, you’re likely to trek around 5-6 km each day. Expect gradual ascents and descents along the way. The maximum altitude will be about 12,500 ft. There are no technical sections on these treks, but there could be small sections of steep gradients or tricky patches that require you to be surefooted.

Your goal is to comfortably run 5 km within 38 minutes.

Note: If you are above the age of 58 years, you'll also need to submit your Treadmill Test within 7 days of registration.

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Trek Trivia

Things Nobody Tells You About Kedarkantha

Did you know that you'll be trekking inside a wildlife sanctuary on the Kedarkantha Trek?

The Kedarkantha trek begins in the majestic Govind Pashu Vihar Sanctuary and National Park. The area is rich and filled with biodiversity. Flora and fauna in the sanctuary are of a Western Himalayan type.

There are three categories of Western Himalayan flora: Broadleaved forests, Subalpine conifer, and Subalpine shrubs and bushes. One of the best things about Kedarkantha is that you get to witness all three kinds.

During the ascent, you'll notice the striking change in flora and fauna. From forests and shrubs to vast meadows, Kedarkantha has it all.

In Kedarkantha, you get breathtaking views of the river Tons and Thamsa. The blue turquoise colour of river Tons can wash away your worries.

Not only this, India's first Snow Leopard project began here. Huge efforts have been made to conserve the Snow Leopards by the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary.

Leaving Mountains Better

Green Trails is our promise to leave the mountains better. We have removed over 1 lakh kilos of the waste left behind by others on trekking trails. Yet this is a small percentage of what we do. Green Trails dives into reducing the use of resources, reducing our carbon footprint and bringing about a change in the daily practices of our trekkers too.

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