Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?

Sakshi Sehajpal

Last updated: 29-05-2021

Located in the Western Garhwal region in Uttarakhand, Kedarkantha is one of the most popular trekking destinations in India and not without reason. Resting at an altitude of 3800 M and spanning over 20 km, this trek packs all the nuances and challenges of a summit experience but on a much smaller scale.

This means the Kedarkantha trek is perfect for beginners looking to embark on their first summit trek in the Himalayas.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


Long, winding walks through dense oak and pine forests, a serene high altitude lake, delightful camping experiences, and a thrilling ascent to a summit that offers unparalleled views of the Yamunotri and Gangotri Ranges at sunrise are some of the aspects that make this a sought after trek.

Although a beginners’ trail, Kedarkantha does demand specific skills and trekking gear to navigate the terrain efficiently. In this article, we discuss the challenges of the Kedarkantha trek along with the preparation needed to complete the trek safely and enjoyably.


Difficulty level of the trek:

Kedarkantha is a level 2 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 Kedarkantha

The Kedarkantha trek is blessed with diverse vegetation, dense forests, lovely meadows and majestic landscapes all along. The beauty of the Kedarkantha trail lies in the fact that, although, the gradient gets steeper each day, the path is still easy to navigate until the summit. On the Kedarkantha trek, you will be covering a distance of 4-5 km each day that takes anywhere between 4-5 hours to cover. The only exception to this is the day of summit when you trek almost 9 km in a day (7-8 hours). The trek gradient is mostly easy with a blend of gradual and steep ascents in some sections.

The Kedarkantha trek starts from the scenic village of Sankri at an altitude of 1950 M in Uttarakhand. We will be covering the journey from Dehradun to Sankri via road in our vehicle on Day 1.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


On the second day, we begin the trek to Juda Ka Taal from Sankri. It is 4 km long and takes almost 5 hours to cover. The trail is broad and gradually ascends for the first 2-3 hours as you zigzag your way through the woods. During peak winter months, you will encounter snow shortly after Sankri if not in Sankri itself. Based on the snow conditions, your trek leader might provide you with microspikes and gaiters to navigate the trail comfortably.

During spring, the same route undergoes a striking variation in landscape. With emerald green Oak forests, a carpet of maple and pine leaves covering the path that open up to verdant green meadows, the trails are vibrant with a flush of colours. The last hour to the campsite goes through a series of switchbacks, rising through a sharp incline of the dense Oaks that eventually open up to the spectacular Juda-Ka-Taal campsite.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


The next day’s trek till the Kedarkantha Base Camp is 4 km long and would take about 2.5 hours to cover at a moderate pace. The trail is comparatively steeper than the previous day. The landscapes, however, are fairly similar but no less beautiful.

The trek begins through Oak and Pine forests that open up to ridges at some sections. Further ahead, the trail climbs swiftly over a dusty uneven terrain gaining an altitude of about 700 M. After this, it is a short walk through umber-brown Oak forests that eventually open up to an extensive clearing with an arc view of the lofty snow-capped ranges. In the vicinity of towering woods and gaping views of the snowscape, this pristine white glade at 3400 m is the Kedarkantha Base Camp.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


The terrain till the Kedarkantha Base Camp is easy to navigate for a beginner with a basic level of fitness. Even in peak winter months, the trek won’t be very strenuous since the distance covered each day is no more than 4-5 km.

The main challenge of the Kedarkantha Trek, if any, lies on the day we attempt the summit.


Challenge 1:  Summit Day

The day we summit the Kedarkantha peak is particularly challenging as it involves a long day trekking. We will be covering a distance of 9 kms that takes anywhere between 7-8 hours to cover. While the duration and distance are relatively short when compared to other summit treks in the Himalayas, it can be challenging for someone who is new to trekking.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


On this day, we will be beginning the trek at 3 AM in the morning. The trail runs through dense Oak forestswith a mild ascent for about an hour. As the woods begin to recede, one can see a slope inclined at almost 60 degrees ahead. This is the last leg to the summit.

During winter months, this section is likely to be strenuous for beginners as you will find yourself in knee-deep snow pulling through at every step. Strong icy winds and sub-zero temperatures that may go as low as -7 degree Celsius add to the challenges of the ascent. It takes around 4 hours to reach the summit just in time to watch the sun rays brushing over the snow-capped ranges softly making for a mesmerising view at the top. After a rigorous trek through the snow, the summit rewards you with a feeling of pure bliss and gratification that is sure to be engraved in your hearts for long.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


Challenge 2: Inclement weather conditions (very very rare)

Kedarkantha is undoubtedly one of the best winter treks – especially for beginners. What makes it perfect is the right balance of beauty and thrill it offers.

In the winter season, spanning from December to February, the trails are covered in thick snow right up to the summit. Although, the weather is generally calm on the trek,it can turn stormy occasionally.


Kedarkantha - Who is this trek meant for?


This could mean rain and hailstorm in the lower campsites and heavy snowfall from the Kedarkantha base camp and onwards. Our trek leaders closely monitor the situation in such inclement weather conditions and make the necessary alterations to the itinerary. For example, the trek leader might stay back at Juda Ka Taal campsite instead of ascending to Kedarkantha base camp and push for summit directly from here once the weather settles down.

This would mean covering a distance of 7 km one way till the summit instead of the usual 3 km from the Kedarkantha campsite. Such a situation could pose a challenge as the trek now stretches beyond 7 hours. The excess snowfall can also make navigation demanding in the upper reaches of the trail.

That said, the weather is generally amicable on the Kedarkantha trek. A rough weather is a one-off occurrence.


Fitness Levels Required for the Kedarkantha Trek

The trails of Kedarkantha are relatively easy to navigate after April since the snow melts away by then. However, in winter months the trail is covered with a thick blanket of snow throughout. The last segment till the summit is long & steep with an inclination of 45 to 60 degrees and can be challenging to navigate in knee-deep snow.

Although it is a beginners’ trek, you will need good lung capacity and leg strength to finish the trek strongly. If you are struggling most of the time, you won’t be able to enjoy the trek. With the end goal being enjoying the trek thoroughly and not just completing it, the following is the fitness level we recommend. 

Practice jogging/running three days a week and see if you can cover 5 kms in 30-40 minutes. In addition to this, you can also add some resistance workouts for legs (like squats and lunges) and core into your training schedule.


Gear Required for Kedarkantha Trek

While we will be providing most of the equipment needed for trekking (tents, sleeping bags, crampons, snow boots etc), there is some basic gear you will need from your end to get through your hike comfortably. 

These are a sturdy, lightweight backpack and comfortable trekking shoes. In case, you plan on purchasing them, please refer to the articles below for some helpful tips on how to go about choosing the right gear for your trek.

How to choose your backpack

A branded backpack can be a hefty spend when it comes to trekking. But this needn’t be the case if you know what to look for when purchasing one.

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. In the article linked above, he shares some helpful tips on what to look for when choosing a trekking backpack.

How to choose a good pair of hiking shoes

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. For a trek like Kedarkantha, where you are likely to encounter snow during the winter months, we recommend wearing water resistant shoes to avoid exposing your feet to cold temperatures. Please refer to the guide linked above for some useful tips on choosing trekking shoes. 

Trekking Pole

Trekking poles are not mandatory butcan help take the stress off joints especially during descents and save energy. It is an accessory that helps the trekker with stability and rhythm on rough terrain.

The article linked above explains how to use trekking poles.


Skills required for Kedarkantha 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. 

On the Kedarkantha trek, our trek leaders guide and train the group on how to steer through the snow during ascent and descent before attempting the summit.

The trekkers are instructed about various trekking equipment that will be used during the trek like gaiters, micro-spikes and trekking pole, all in coordination with one another.

All these equipment except trekking poles will be provided by the Bikat Adventures team. During descent, the snow becomes slippery adding to the challenges for the trekkers. To avoid slipping, trekkers are taught descent techniques like the right placement of foot, where and how to apply pressure and much more.

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 the skills that are likely to come in handy on a trail like the Kedarkantha.

Ascending and Descending on Trails

Although Kedarkantha is a beginners’ trek, the ascent to the summit can be quite challenging. Maintaining the right rhythm and body posture can help avoid injuries and reduce the stress on your ankles and knees. The guide linked above shares some useful tips on how to ascend and descend down trails.

How to pack your rucksack

During the Kedarkantha Winter Trek, one is likely to experience subzero temperatures at night. This means you will have to pull out all the winter clothes you have to layer up at the campsite. This in turn will require you to re-pack your backpack in the mornings. 

The article linked above shares some useful guidelines you can follow to pack efficiently.

Hiking attire and layering

Layering appropriately to protect yourself from the cold is essential. The temperatures at Kedarkantha can dip as low as -7 degree Celsius in the winters. Hence, it is crucial to understand how many layers one needs to carry to have a comfortable trek.

The article linked above 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.

How to use Microspikes

When trails become slippery because of the snow, microspikes give you the support and balance you will need to navigate these trails efficiently. Since we are likely to be using them on the Kedarkantha Trek, please ensure the shoes you are wearing are compatible for microspikes.

How to use gaiters

Gaiters are special layers that you wear over your shoes and ankles to prevent dirt, pebbles, and snow from getting inside your shoes. When the snow level is high on the Kedarkantha Trek, Bikat Adventures will also be providing gaiters to trekkers right from Sankri. The article linked above will give you an idea of how to use them.


We hope this article answers all the questions you may have about the Kedarkantha Trek. In case you need further assistance/information with something, please feel free to reach out to us. We are only a phone call away.


Sakshi Sehajpal

Management Intern at Bikat Adventures. Keen on exploring facets of lifestyle and travel. Read more

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