I got introduced to the trekking world a little late in life. However, every time I take children out on treks as part of our Hiking Club, I wish I had gotten introduced to trekking much earlier.
With the many batches of school children we took on treks, I noticed discernible changes in them. The boost in confidence they got after crossing tricky sections was pronounced! Not to mention, the bond that formed with team work was outstanding!
I believe every child should trek. A Himalayan trek would make these changes much stronger in a child. Here, I’ve jotted down the best Himalayan treks for children. These treks are spread throughout the year – some are best done in winter and some in summer, so plan accordingly.
This all-season trail is, without a doubt, the best trek for children. It has got so many things going on: dense forest trails teeming with a host of birds, grand meadows at Rohini Bugyal and a superb summit climb. And what a grand summit it is! From Chandrashila, you get to see the tallest mountains of India, starting from the Garhwal to the Kumaon ranges! TThe sense of achievement and reward your child will feel after a hard day’s trek to this summit is unparalleled! Since this trek is less likely to tire children out, their capacity to absorb information is more. You can teach them to spot and recognise birds and to identify mountain peaks. Deoriatal-Chandrashila is a well rounded holistic trek experience for your child.
This winter trek boasts of the best camping experience your child will have. All the campsites of Kedarkantha are in snowy clearings. Camping teaches your child to be self-sufficient and open up to new life experiences. Collecting dead wood for fire, learning to cook, learning the significance of mountains, talking to the locals and other trekkers will broaden their perspective. Children return from the trek with newly gained confidence, independence and a healthy respect for nature. Your child can also take collectibles from this trek: the forest floors have plenty of pine cones!
If you ask me, instead of a trip to Manali, just go a few kilometres beyond and go to Bhrigu Lake. It is a quick trek that offers children the best aspects of a full-fledged Himalayan trek. The vast grasslands with benign horses, a challenging climb to the lake, apple orchards of old Kullu, hot springs of Vashisht and a forget-me-not blue lake; all of this in just 3 days of the trekking. The vistas of Lahaul, Pir Panjal and Dhalaudhar mountain ranges from Bhrigu Lake. Among the treks mentioned here, the altitude reached on this trek is the highest: 14,000 ft. Since the climb to Bhrigu is stiff, your child will learn to listen to their bodies as they push themselves to move forward. It serves as a perfect introduction to high altitude trekking.
With the best views of Nanda Devi right from the ski slopes of Auli, this trek is a must do for your child! The gradients are easy and the views are magnificent: views of Trishul, Nanda Ghunti, Neelkanth, Hathi Parvat, Ghoda Parvat, Chaukhamba, Duna Giri and Nanda Devi from Gorson Bugyal are so clear that children often stretch their arms out to touch these mountains. If views are judged solely on basis of the number of peaks, then Kuari pass stands as one among the best. The trail also has a magical oak forests at Chitrakantha and high altitude meadows at Gorson Bugyal.
Har ki Dun
Har Ki Dun is a classic valley trail. In fact, Jack Gibson a British mountaineer and teacher at Doon School discovered this valley and fell in love with it. Consequently, he took his students to Har Ki Dun for field trips. It isn’t hard to imagine why this trek would make for a great first trek for children. A valley walk beside the gurgling Supin river, the trail takes them through villages and let’s them absorb rural life. This trek helps them experience local culture in close proximity: the unusual architecture, the clothes they wear, the water-powered turbine to ground flour, and the belief Pandavas once walked on this trail to ascend to heaven.
Do note, I have selected these treks keeping in mind the endurance capacity of children. While children seem to be infinite bundles of energy, they cannot sustain it for long stretches of time. Taking them on tougher treks would exhaust them and that defeats the very purpose of outdoor learning.