- Mandakini (Kedarnath, Sonprayag, Okimath, Rudraprayag). Originates from the Gangotri range. Tributaries: Lasar Gad (Khalyan).
- Alaknanda (Badrinath, Joshimath, Gopeshwar, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag). Tributaries: Dhauli Ganga, Birahi Ganga (Pana), Nandakini (Sutol, Sitel, Ghat), Mandakini, Bhiundar Ganga, Rishi Ganga.
- Pindar (Kathi, Kheta, Narayan Bagar, Karnaprayag). Tributaries: Kail Ganga (Himni), Bedni Ganga (Wan), Ata Gad
- Ramganga (Gairsain).
- Gangotri (Northwest) drains into the Mandakini (South), Alaknanda (East), Bhagirathi (West).
- Kamet Group (North) drains into the Alaknanda (West), Bhiundar Ganga (South), Dhauli Ganga (East).
- Nanda Devi (Northeast) drains into Dhauli Ganga (West), Rishi Ganga (West), Nandakini (West), Gori Ganga (East), Pindar (South), Ramganga (South), Sarju (South)
There are many well known peaks in Chamoli district part of the above ranges: Gangotri (Chaukhamba, Nilkantha, Avalanche Peak), Kamet Group (Kamet, Nilgiri Parbat) and Nanda Devi (Trisul, Raunthi, Dunagiri) as well as many mid-ranges (Jatropani, Chandrashilla)
Chamoli has many high and mid ranges with numerous mountain passes connecting main river valleys and tributaries above. Refer the hiking routes below for the more popular ones.
There are several well known alpine lakes in Chamoli district including Hemkund, Nandi Kund, Toli Tal, Satopanth Tal, Roopkund, Bedni Kund, Brahma Tal, Sup Tal, Kagbhusand Tal and Dewariya Tal (Karnaprayag)
Hiking routes in Open Street Maps (OSM) are categorized in 4 different networks:
- International (red) – long distance paths that cross several countries (or states in case of India)
- National (blue) – walking routes that are nationally significant and long distance paths
- Regional (orange) – walking routes that c ross regions and are regionally significant
- Local (purple) – small local walking routes
Many routes below have been explored and documented during my Trans Uttarakhand Journeys in Spring 2019 and Winter 20/21. Blogs for individual routes can be found here and here.
Here we document around 40 beautiful routes in the upper ranges of Chamoli (Northeast). Refer the next post for another 30 routes in the mid ranges (Southwest).
4 Local Routes
- Tungnath 5km / 780m+ from Chopta Chatti village we climb up Northeast along a wide rock pack to Tungnath temple (3450m) and Chandrasilla peak (3650m) offering 360 degree views on the high ranges (North), Alaknanda (East) and Mandakini (West) river valleys. Blog post
- Monal Top 10km / 1000m+ we hike up North from Wan village along the Bagri Gad stream to the Kukinkhal pass (3100m) where we hike up Southwest along the ridgeline to Monal Top (3430m).
- Sitel to Sik 8km / 1600m+ from Sitel in the Nandakini river valley we climb up North and proceed East into the Sik Gadhera valley were we climb up North into the forest above the last settlement of Sik
- Bedni Kund 1.2km / 170m+ a day hike from Wan village in the Bagri Gad valley or a short detour from Roopkund, Bedni Kund is a small lake at 3550m altitude, source of the Nil Ganga stream tributary of the Dhyan Gad. Located just below the ridgeline towards Roopkund in Bedni Bugyal.
- Buransi to Charbang 5km / 730m+ a short scenic hike from Buransi to the forest above Charbang in the Bhadra Gad valley tributary of the Nandakini river valley
30 Regional Routes
- Sonprayag to Ghuttu 32km / 2500m+ (Rudrapayag) from Sonprayag in the Mandakini river valley (flowing down from Kedarnath) we climb up West above the Vasuki Ganga valley to Trijugi Narayan where we turn Southwest high above the Siha Gad valley towards the Kinkola Khal pass (3530m) and contour around Bhasam peak (3750m) proceeding Southwest along the ridgeline border between Tehri Garhwal and Rudraprayag separating the Bhillangana and Lastar Gad river valleys to finally descend West to Ghuttu. Blog post Blog post 2 Blog ost 3
- Kedarnath 15km / 2360m+ (Rudrapayag) starting from Gaurikund (2000m) we climb Northeast into the Mandakini river valley passing by Rambara to the famous pilgrimage of Kedarnath (3500m) at the base of the Kedarnath glacier hanging from Kedarnath main peak (6670m)
- Guptakashi to peak 11km / 1700m+ (Rudrapayag) starting from Guptakashi in the Mandakini river valley we climb up West through Dewar to the the ridgeline between Byung Gad (North) and Bhilori Gad (South) to an unknown peak (3200m) offering mesmerizing views on the surrounding Chandandawar Gad and Manadakini river valleys. Blog post
- Valley of Flowers 21km / 2400m+ a famous hike starting from Govindghat in the Alaknanda river valley Northeast into the Bhiundhar Ganga valley and the Pushpawati Nal to 3700m at the base of the Tipra Bamak glacier
- Hemkund Sahib 5.6km / 1000m+ a side-trail from the above Valley of Flowers route it starts from Ghangaria in the Bhiundhar Ganga river valley climbing up East along the Laxman Ganga stream to Hem Kund lake (4150m)
- Pana to Joshimath via Kuari pass 33km / 2560m+ from the last village of Pana (Kaliyaghat Gadhera) in the Birhangi Ganga river valley we climb up Northwest to the meadows of Sartoli proceeding North into the Pui Gadhera climbing across the Kuari pass (Kunwari Khal) at 3700m descending North to Joshimath in the Alaknanda river valley. Blog post
- Durmi to Tapoban 28km / 2500m+ from Durmi village in the Birahi Ganga river valley we climb up North to Pana village in the Kaliyaghat Gadhera valley where we climb up North into the Pui Gadhera valley across the Kuari pass (3700m) descending to Tapoban in the Dhauli Ganga river valley tributary of Alaknanda. Blog post
- Pangarchulla 7.5km / 1550m+ from Karchhigaon village in the Dhauli Ganga river valley we climb up South to 4000m altitude on the way to Pangarchulla peak (4550m) overlooking the Birangi Ganga (South) and Dhauli Ganga (North) river valleys
- Saptkund Lake 11km / 700m+ (incomplete mapped) starting from the Birahi river valley we climb up East along the ridgeline and contour high above the valley below Nanda Ghunti (6309m) towards Saptkund lake (4500m). Actual route shown on Survey maps starts from Sutol village in Nandakini river valley (South).
- Sitel to Pana 28km / 3000m+ from Sitel village in the Nandakini river valley we climb up Northwest to Ghuni where we turn Northeast across the Chechni Binayak pass (3170m) descending into the Birahi Ganga river valley and climbing up to the last village of Pana (2450m) in the Kaliyaghat Gadera side-valley. Blog post
- Birahi to Sitel 33km / 3700m+ from Birahi in the Alaknanda river valley we head West into the Birahi Ganga river valley till Biyara village where we where we climb up Southeast above the Begar Nala stream crossing over the Baigna Khal pass (2850m) descending to Ghuni and Sitel in the Nandakini river valley. Blog post
- Ghat to Durmi 35km / 4000m+ from Ghat village on the confluence of the Nandakini and Chupla Gad river valleys we climb up North through Luntra crossing over an unnamed pass (2450m) to Char Pagna in the Mola Nadi valley where we climb up North across the Agichaura Khal pass (2800m) to Sainj in the Birahi river valley and proceed East towards the village of Durmi. Blog post
- Nandaprayag to Birahi 21km / 1800m+ from Nandaprayag on the confluence of the Nandakini and Alaknanda river valleys we climb up Northeast above the Jetha Gad valley across the Binot Binak pass (2550m) near the Koti Danda peak (3071m) descending go Garigaon in the Birahi river valley where we follow the road downstream to Birahi on the Alaknanda river valley. Blog post Blog post 2
- Urgam to Kunjaum 27km / 2100m+ from Urgam village in the Kalpa Ganga valley, tributary of the Alaknanda, we climb up West an unnamed pass (3400m) near Bansi Narayan (3600m) and descend South along a stream towards Kalgot turning Southwest to Dumak village, crossing over the Mena Nadi river valley and climbing up South to Toli Tal (2650m) and crossing over an unnamed pass (2800m) and descending to Kunjaum on the higher slopes of the Alaknanda river valley nearto Gopeshwar. Blog post Blog post 2 Blog post 3 Blog post 4 Blog post 5
- Rudranath 14km / 2050m+ a popular pilgrim destination, we start at Sagar village above Gopeshwar in the Bir Ganga river valley and climb up Northeast onto the ridgeline separating Mena Nadi and Alaknanda river valleys turning Northwest to the Naola pass (3800m) and Rudranath (3550m) in the Rikhni Gad river valley. Rudranath is also accessible via Mandal village in the Amrit Ganga valley via the Naola pass. Mesmerizing views on the snow capped ranges above Badrinath. Blog post Blog post 2
- Toli Tal 5km / 800m- a short diversion from the Rudranath route we head East from the ridgeline above the Alaknanda river valley and descend into the Mena Nadi valley to find the beautiful Toli Tal (2650m) in the open meadows on the way to Dumak village. Blog post
- Dumak to Rudranath from Dumak village we proceed along a wide path Northwest above the Mena Nadi valley turning into the Gangartoli Gad valley where we cross over and climb up the ridgeline between Rikhni Gad and Bagdari Gad streams to the meadows above. Here we missed the side-trail into the Rikhni Gad valley towards Rudranath
- Okimath to Tungnath 22km / 2200m+ from Okimath in the Mandakini river valley we climb up East and follow the ridgeline above the Kakra Gad river valley to Dewariya Tal (2400m) offering stunning views on the Chaukhamba range (North). We proceed East through remote forests in the Kyar Gad river valley and descend South into the Sigot Gad valley to Chopta Chatti where we climb up East along a wide rock path to Tungnath (3450m) and Chandrasilla peak (3650m) offering mesmerizing views on the high ranges (North). Blog post
- Dewariya Tal – Tungnath 17km / 1650m+ alternatively a shorter route starts from Tala village in the Sigot Gad valley climbing up West to the ridgeline above towards Dewariya Tal (2400m). Here we take a U-turn East along the ridgeline above the Kyar Gad valley (North) before descending south into the Sigot Gad valley to Chopta Chatti from where we climb East to Tungnath (3450m). Blog post
- Mandal to Chopta 9.5km / 1230m+ from Mandal in the Balkhila Nadi valley, tributary of the Alaknanda river, we climb up along an ancient rock path West towards Chopta Chatti crossing the hair pin road connecting the Alaknanda (Gopeswhar) and Mandakini (Okimath) valleys. Blog post
- Jhinji to Wan 37km / 5600m+ from Jhinji village in the Birahi river valley we climb up South onto the ridgeline above and proceed East between Gudiyar Gadhera (North) and Nandakini (South) gradually descending into the Nandakini river valley beyond Sutol climbing up East towards Roopkund before taking a U-turn Southwest across the Rup Ganga and Harosing Gad streams to the ridgeline heading West towards the Kukin Khal pass
- Roopkund 29km / 3800m+ a very popular hiking route starts at Lohajung village heading North into the Dhyan Gad valley (towards Wan) crossing the river and climbing up East onto the ridgeline between Halkan Gad (East) and Dhyan Gad (West). We climb up North on the ridge passing Ali Bugyal (3450m), the Ali Khal pass (3450m), Bedni Bugyal (3550m) proceeding Northeast along the ridgeline to Rup Kund lake (4800m) source of the Rupin Ganga river.
- Kanol to Roopkund 21km / 1950m+ alternatively we can start from Kanol village in the Semkor Gadhera valley climbing up North to the Kukin Khal pass (3100m) turning East along the ridgeline between Nil Ganga (South) and Harosing Gad (North) to an unnamed peak (4100m) where we head Northeast towards Rup Kund lake (4800m) the origin of the Rup Ganga river valley flowing towards Sutol
- Wan to Sitel 14km / 1300m- from Wan we climb up North along the Bagri Gad stream to the Kukin Khal pass (3100m) descending Northwest to Kanol village in the Samkor Gadhera valley crossing the Nandakini river flowing from Sutol and proceeding West to Sitel village. Blog post Blog post 2
- Lohajung to Brahmatal 11km / 1100m+ this popular hiking touristic route starts at Lohajung village located between the Dhyan Gad and Ghat Gad river valleys. We climb up Northwest on the valley slope above the Ghat Gad valley to an unnamed pass (3000m). We now hike up North along the ridgeline between Bedni Ganga (East) and Pranmati Gad (West) passing Bhengal Tal (3050m) and reaching into the meadows while climbing up to Brahma Tal (3250m) high up in the Pranmati Gad valley. Blog post
- Wan to Brahmatal 7km / 1200m+ a less known route to Brahma Tal starts from Wan village in the Dhyan Gad valley climbing up West along the ridgeline above the Choa Gad and turning South across an unnamed pass (3550m) descending to Brahma Tal (3250m). Blog post
- Brahmatal to Jatropani 26km / 2800m+ starting at Brahma Tal we climb up North along the ridgeline between Dhyan Gad (East) and Pranmati Gad (West) to Jatropani peak (4020m) offering 360 degree views on the surrounding high ranges (Trisul) and Nandakini (North), Kail Ganga (Southeast) and Pranmati Gad (South) valleys
- Sutol to Kukin Khal 10km / 1300m+ from Sutol village in the Nandakini river valley we hike East into the Harosing Gad valley crossing over the river near Ghatbagar and climbing up South to Bhuna the ridgeline between Nandakini and Kail Ganga rivers and turning West to the Kuking Khal pass (3100m)
- Ronti Saddle 11km / 1000m+ from Roop Kund (4800m) we descend North to Home Kund (3700m), the source of the Nandakini river valley climbing up North to Ronti Saddle (5200m) at the base on Nanda Ghungti (6309m)
- Himni to Wan 22km / 2100m+ starting from Himni we descend North into the Kuman Gad valley crossing over the Kail Ganga and climbing up Northwest above Balan village into the Kalkan Gad valley ascending the Ali Khal pass (3450m) contouring West around the Nil Ganga valley to finally descend to Wan in the Dhyan Gad valley. Blog post Blog post 2
- Badiyakot to Himni 19km / 2450m+ starting from Badiyakot in the Ghatiya Gad valley, tributary of the Pindar river, we climb up Northwest across an unnamed pass (2800m) to Bharakani in the Baura Gad valley climbing across an unnamed pass (3350m) to Himni in the Kuman Gad, tributary of the Kail Ganga river valley. Blog post Blog post 2
5 National Routes
- Kedarnath to Ransi 32km / 2000m+ (Rudrapayag) from Kedarnath (3500m) we climb up Northeast to cross over the Mahipanth Col (4690m) contouring East above the Kail Ganga valley across the Bishali Col (4810m) and Yembuk Col (4650m) descending South into the Mandani Ganga valley and climbing across the Dwarka Khal (4200m) descending to Ransi in the Madhmaheshwar Ganga valley
- Nandi Kund 23km / 1750m+ from Ransi we climb up Northeast into the Madhmaheswar Ganga valley to the ridgeline between Markanda Ganga (West) and Bantoli Gad (East) valleys to Saraswati Kund (3250m) contouring East above the Madhya Maheshwar Nadi valley to Nandi Kund (4350m) across the Dhanya Dunkar Khal (4600m) descending Southeast into the Barma Gad climbing across a ridge turning East into the Gangartoli Gad valley climbing up across the Mainwa Khal (3900m) descending to Bansi Narayanan (3600m) and Urgam in the Kalpa Ganga valley, tributary of the Alaknanda river
- Ransi to Hanumanchatti 53km / 3650m+ staring from Ransi we hike up Northeast into the Madhmaheshwar Ganga valley climbing up on the ridgeline between Bantoli Gad (East) and Markanda Ganga (West) to Saraswati Kund (3250m) climbing up North to the Sujal Sarovar pass (4690m) across an unnamed glacier across the Panpatia Col (5280m) descending North onto the Panpatia Bank glacier contouring East and descending into Khiaro Ganga valley to Hanuman Chatti in the Alaknanda river valley
- Surya Kund 20km / 2300m+ starting from Mana at the confluence of the the Alaknanda and Saraswati rivers we climb up West into the Alaknanda river valley onto the Satopanth Bank glacier passing Satopanth Tal (4350m), Surya Kund (4500m) and Vishnu Kund (4520m)
- Kankul pass 29km / 3150m+ starting near Joshimath we climb up Northeast out of the Alaknanda river valley along a ridgeline between Kagbhusand Gad (North) and Hom Gadhera (South) across the Bamai Khal (4470m) descending to Kagbhusand Tal (4350m) and across the Kankul pass (4650m) descending North into Bhiundar Ganga valley turning West towards Bhyundar in the Valley of Flowers
2 International Routes
This inter-state route spans the entire state of Uttarakhand including several of the above regional routes.
- Trans Uttarakhand 550km / 33800m+ – refer detailed post over here
- Great Western Himalayan Traverse 920km / 33200m+ – refer detailed post over here
Above traverses can be easily navigated using most mobile mapping apps – many use Open Street Maps as base maps which include tens of thousands of kilometers of trails in Himalayas, Sahyadri, etc. OSM maps can be downloaded on the phone for offline exploration of the mountains without mobile network. Contours can be added to understand the topography of the terrain. Find a short tutorial over here.