Offering endless meadows, glacial lakes and colourful flower beds, the Tosa Maidan trek takes us into the unexplored regions of Kashmir. The trail runs through the meadows located around Gulmarg, making it the only trek in the region given that all the other treks of Kashmir are concentrated around Sonmarg. The landscape changes from coniferous forests to meadows to boulder crossings to reach the stunning glacial lakes that lie nestled among the higher mountains. Given the variety of natural beauty that the trek offers, needless to say, one will be left in awe of Kashmir at the end of the trail.
The Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trek is the perfect alternative to the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, for those who want to witness the beauty of the glacial lakes of Kashmir through a shorter and easier trail. Since the trail starts from Drung in Gulmarg, the onset of the Amarnath Yatra does not interfere with the departures for this trail, making it more accessible. The trek is your gateway into wilderness, taking you away from the crowds that you might otherwise encounter on more established routes.
This article discusses the difficulty level of the Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trek, the challenges one might encounter on the trail along with the gear and skills required for the trek.
Difficulty Level of the Trek:
Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes is a level 4 trek on the Bikat Rating Scale.
About the BRS: The Bikat Rating Scale rates the difficulty level of all treks and expeditions in our portfolio after taking into account their geographical and climatic conditions.
According to this scale, if you are a beginner who is unsure of your fitness level and don’t know what to expect on a trek, a trek rated one will be a good place to start.
If you liked your very first trekking experience and are looking to test your limits next, the treks rated 2 or 3 will do the job for you.
A beginner who is sure of their fitness level on the other hand is welcome to skip the first two levels and directly start with one of the treks rated 3.
From 4 onwards, the rules change a little. It is mandatory to have trekking experience of the previous level to participate in the next level.
The Trails of Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes:
With ample changes in the landscape and a few challenges on the trail, the Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trek is a moderately difficult one, making it accessible to those who have attempted an easy Himalayan trek before. Although not entirely out of reach for beginners, the long trail and boulder crossing would warrant a good level of fitness and some prior experience in the Himalayas.
Challenge 1: Ascent through the forest on the way to Dhanwas
While the trek largely takes you through meadows, the initial climb through dense forests could be difficult if one is not prepared for it. Although not a long ascent, the terrain is steep, making trekkers stop multiple times to catch a breath or hydrate themselves. Depending on your level of fitness, this steep portion could take anywhere between 1-2 hours to finish, at the end of which you're rewarded with the sprawling meadows of Kashmir. The steep terrain does not make it difficult to get a grip while climbing, although the ground under your feet could be slippery if it has been raining. Do not hesitate to stop and take breaks where you feel it's required. Our guides and trek leaders will always be around to ensure you're not left behind. Just watch where you are stepping and you will be through in no time.
Challenge 2: Boulder Crossing
While on the Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trek, one will encounter multiple boulder crossings. Most of these are small and can be crossed by getting a good hold over your balance. However, on the day where we trek to the Greater Lakes, the boulder crossings could a little more challenging. You will see a lot of trekkers crossing them with ease, however, if you feel more comfortable crossing them on all fours, do so by all means! While it might take up more of your energy, crossing them on all fours feels more stable if you are not too sure about your leg balance. Find the most comfortable approach and do not shy away from asking the guides or trek leaders for assistance when needed.
Challenge 3: The Final Ascent
The Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trek will test you one last time before you leave it behind. The final ascent to reach the pickup point is the steepest one among all the ascents you will come across on the trail. While not too long, the climb up could be difficult for someone with no prior experience or inadequate fitness. It's easy to get a grip while climbing up as there is no scree or moraine. If you feel the need to use your hands in the steeper portions, you can always do so and make yourself more comfortable. Follow the guide and trek leaders to make sure you're taking the right path up and not expending more energy than required.
Challenge 4: Rains on the Trail
As we all know, the mountains make their own weather. No amount of weather forecast or planning can prepare you for the weather change in the mountains. Being a trails that runs through the monsoons, there are high chances of encountering moderate to heavy rainfall on certain days. While the rains are not a challenge in themselves, you will notice a sudden temperature drop during and after the rains although you would have not gained a lot of altitude. Trekking through the rain dampens the spirits of trekkers and some even find it difficult to go on in the rain. While we cannot control the weather, we could be better prepared to handle it. Always carry sufficient raincovers for your bags and belongings along with a poncho with high water resistance for yourself. Be sure to wrap your electronics and gadgets in waterproof material.
Challenge 5: Long Distances
Although a gradual and moderately difficult trail, the Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trek involves covering long distances on most days. Since most of it is meadow walks, we rarely feel the strain and often reach our campsites just a little post lunch. Yet, covering close to 10 kms on most days could be taxing if we are not physically and mentally prepared for it. It is highly recommended that the trekkers prepare prior to the trek with regular jogging or walking long distances to get accustomed to the schedule.
Gear Required for Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes:
We will be providing most of the equipment needed for the trek such as tents and sleeping bags. Although the trail does not warrant the use of any technical equipment, there is some basic gear you will need from your end to get through your trek comfortably.
Some of the things you will need are:
A sturdy, lightweight backpack: A good backpack which sits comfortably on your back without putting too much pressure on it can be the deciding factor between making it to the summit or not. Good, however, is not a synonym for expensive.
One of our founders, Pankaj, purchased a non-branded pack for INR 1100 in 2010 and the pack continues to work just fine for him even today. In the article linked below, he shares some helpful tips on what to look for when choosing a trekking backpack.
Comfortable trekking shoes: Happy feet equal a happy trek. Conventional sports shoes don’t suit trekking trails. We recommend wearing high ankle shoes with sturdy soles. These not only provide better support but also reduce the possibility of injuries while hiking. In case, you need help with a list of deciding factors that make for good trekking shoes, please refer to the article below.
Right Clothing: Any high-altitude trek requires specific kinds of clothing. It should be warm but light weight. It should also be such that it is easily packaged. We usually employ the layering method where you put on multiple layers of clothing instead of one very heavy, thick jacket. This is for two reasons:
1) The weather in Himalayan regions is unpredictable and changes very quickly. Layering gives you the freedom to adapt to that accordingly where you are not left feeling too hot or too cold.
2) These are easy to carry and are packing-friendly.
Skills Required for Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes Trek:
Bikat Adventures is primarily an adventure learning organization. This means our key objective is not just to help trekkers complete their treks but also to ensure they pick up some valuable lessons and skills in trekking along the way.
To achieve this, we have created learning modules and paired them to different levels on the Bikat Rating Scale.
These modules are taught real-time on the trails by our trek leaders.
The following are some skills that are likely to come in handy on a trek like Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes:
While you will have all the assistance you need on the trek from our capable trek leaders and guides, we suggest browsing through the articles below to get an idea of what is involved.
While the Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes trail is a moderate one and can be completed with ease, knowing small tips and tricks will help you avoid injuries and stress to specific body parts. The guide linked below shares some useful tips on how to ascend and descend on trails.
Given how unpredictable the weather gets in the mountains, you are likely to keep changing your layering frequently along the way. Also, due to the vast difference in day temperature and that at night, you most probably will spend a lot of time packing and re-packing your sack depending on whether you are on-trail or at the campsite, have chanced upon sudden rains or are stuck in a suddenly arrived cold hour. The area is also prone to unannounced rains. Under such changeable circumstances, accessing your stuff can get a bit messy and confusing.
Also, a sack packed right can facilitate your trekking while incorrect packing can even make an easy trail seem difficult. Worry not, we are here to help. The article linked below shares some useful guidelines you can follow to pack efficiently.
Our trek leaders will be guiding you on how to pitch a tent during the trek. Nevertheless, we are linking the article below for anyone who might be interested in reading about it.
Layering appropriately to protect yourself from the cold is essential. The article linked below will give you a fair idea of the winter layers you will need and guide you on how to layer up at campsites and while hiking.
When you know you are going to be in any high-altitude location where the sun is harsh, you might want to carry a good pair of sunglasses. A lack of these could prove to be fatal. The article below can help you pick out just the right pair.
When on any trek, it is each person’s responsibility to know the requirements of the area, some campsite basics and how to manage our own selves as well as the environment around us. While our trek leaders will keep you abreast about the basic dos and don’ts, do read the article below to brush up on some basic principles before the trek.
We hope this article answers all the questions you may have about Tosa Maidan and Greater Lakes. In case you need further assistance/information with something, please feel free to reach out to us. We are only a phone call away.