Trekking in Kashmir covered with green lush mountains and grassland surroundings, river accompanying on the side.
Yes, you are dreaming on the right route because this is what someone describes after trekking in Kashmir.
And I did.
But before we start let me know in the comments if you have ever trekked in Kashmir and how would you describe it?
A little bit about –
Table of Contents
Katarnag Lake Trek
Katarnag Trek starts from Aru Valley which is in Pahalgam town, district Anantnag.
It is a short trek mainly of 2 days and for locals, it’s of not even for a day (I did in 1 day but in a hotchpotch). The lake is situated at a height of 14,107ft (Via Indianexpress) above sea level. It’s a 12km trek starting from Aru in Pahalgam.
Although a lot of info couldn’t be found on Katarnag lake trek on the search engine because very few people opt for this trek.
The trek starts from Aru Valley which is in Pahalgam town, district Anantnag.
Things to pack before the start of the trek
Now, you must jot down these points or take a screenshot because it will really be going to help you during the trek.
1.Wear full track pant
You – can’t we wear shorts?
Me – No, because the trek is full of thorns, and if you wear shorts your leg will be exposed to get cuts from thorns.
No one told me this and I got cuts, i.e. don’t want you to do the same. ( As seen in the image below, I wore shorts in the trek ).
*Full track pants keep this locked in mind.
2.Strong Grip Shoes
Shoes with a strong grip in trekking is an important part, not only in this trek but anywhere.
You will be passing by a mixture of small and big stones in half of the journey. Hence, it’s important to hold a tight grip if by chance you misbalance.
When trekking in Kashmir you can’t trust the weather anytime. Like irritating sunshine during the day to a thunderstorm by evening to cold during the night.
As been told by the locals and it turned out the same, it started raining in the evening when we are coming back.
Necessary essential during any trek – Energy bars, light to carry, and keeps your stomach healthily packed during your trek.
Why I haven’t listed the water bottle here?
Because trekking in Kashmir is all about the lakes on every mountain that every person leaves to conquer, i.e., if you feel thirsty at any point in time, the river will’ be right there accompanying you all over.
Start of Katarnag Lake Trek
Let’s start the trek,
I heard an enchanting yes.
(Me and Ubaid)
Ubaid is an advanced Skier, trekker, and adventure lover. He is still in school and I was shocked when he told this ( He can be seen in the image below ).
So, we started at around 9 a.m. from the grassland area (greenery all around) in Aru valley.
*Let me tell you right at the starting that the trek is steep and gradually increases over time.
After walking a few minutes and stopped at a place and we were just talking that how beautiful this place is, in terms of greenery all around.
Ubaid replied that this is not green for us. Earlier it used to have 1ft of grass all around and due to an increase in tourists in this area i.e. people’s and horse’s activity increase, making it difficult to grow long grasses.
Reached Kooth Pathri
We reached a place called Kooth Pathri after an hour of trek. This place is even not on google maps and so do I haven’t heard of it.
I took some rest and head towards our journey.
Now the steepness takes place at every step we take forward (I have to say I here because for Ubaid it’s like walking in a park).
He is doing so smoothly and I was talking rests for the small interval after every few minutes’ walks.
Slowly and Steadily as we were inching heights the interval time started increasing.
The water was not a problem because we were continuously been accompanied by a waterfall on our right and one point came where we have to cross the waterfall.
We crossed the waterfall where it was less inflow and reached the other end.
Now, the steepness becomes even more after we have crossed the waterfall.
We can see a local carrying few clothes on his head and approaching the top where he stays.
We asked him about the distance left and he replied 2hrs more to go.
It’s already afternoon and still 2 hrs more and we have to come back as well.
I thought and told Ubaid that this is not a day trek, it requires 2 days and he somehow agrees with me that only local people can do up and down in a day.
But we are left with no option whilst completing in a day.
I remembered that walking very slowly on the steep mountains is the way to go. I started applying it and gradually we reached a point where few houses seem close to reaching.
Two boys saw us and asked –
Boy – Where you want to go?
Me – Katarnag lake
Boy – Katarnag?
Ubaid – Chotah Nag
Boy – okay, come with me.
Ubaid to me– They call Katarnag as Chotah Nag lake
Finally Reached Katarnag Lake
They both took us on edgy rocks and finally we landed on Katarnag lake, it was blissful.
One side with flowers and another side with snow mountains and in between the Chotah nag lake (Katarnag lake).
Kashmir is truly a heaven and that to trekking in Kashmir is like an added snow in heaven.
The lake is crystal blue like the color of this kid’s eyes. It’s very cold because it coming from the melting of glaciers.
The boy told that the lake is not very deep but still it is not recommended to cross it. Locals use the water from the lake to utilize for day to day work.
The locals cross the lake on horses if somehow, it’s necessary to cross.
It was around 3 p.m. and we are still at Katarnag lake.
I told Ubaid that can we stay in the houses up there for a night because the network is available there.
*Only BSNL Network is available.
If we are staying, we can call at Aru heights that today we will be staying here.
Kids – We don’t have any phones.
This made us think that we have to go down before sunset and rain.
It’s easy descending as compared to ascending in any trek, to be honest.
It took us 5-6hrs to reach our destination from ground level and way back took 2-3hrs.
Managed to reach back before the rain.
Here’s the second video on my Youtube channel, let me know what you think about the trek or video or anything you want to ask in the comments below.
Don’t forget to share and subscribe to my youtube channel because I will keep on improving video after video.
I know you have some questions in mind like –
Where to hire the guide?
The guide can be available near the horses, you can spot them very easily. Ubaid is a member of the family which manages Aru Heights so he acted as a guide to come with me.
Although he is going for the second time.
What are the charges of the guide?
The charges depend upon whether you are asking separately from the ground level or from where you are staying.
If asking separately they will be telling the fixed price.
If asking where you were staying, there is a possibility that you can bargain for a discount because you are staying there as such.
Can we do as a Beginner?
I don’t think a beginner should try this because of the continuous steepness that I feel.
You know your strengths better, if you feel confident about your strengths then you can opt for this trek in Kashmir.
What I say if you are a beginner and want to do the trek in mountains start with Triund Trek in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh.
Perfect for someone who hasn’t trekked before.
What weight is recommended to carry?
Try to carry as light as possible, mainly below 2-3kg on your back.
I carried more than 3kg, haven’t weighted but what I feel from the weight. At a certain stage, it started causing the problem that every time I thought of walking for long distances it acted as a barrier and stopped me for small intervals.
Carry as light as possible.
What type of clothes should we pack?
Again, as light.
But carry a full sleeve sweatshirt/ jacket because on top it will be cold.
And as the day comes towards the end the temp starts to drop.
Which season is good for the Katarnag Lake trek?
Look, as I already mentioned when you are trekking in Kashmir carry your best stuff which you think is important because it can rain any time, climate changes in the blink of an eye, the temperature starts to drop.
Especially when you are trekking in Kashmir must focus on these conditions.
Apart from this, If I tell which season is good, summers are good and pleasant for the trek mainly May-Sept and take care of monsoon seasons July end – Aug end.
Winters are highly not recommended because just think it gets a bit difficult to carry on that too in summers then what will happen in winters.
But, always carry an umbrella/raincoat with you.
Can we camp during the trek?
Yes, you can camp at Kooth Pathri and not beyond that.
You will be thinking that why not beyond?
Because it is a steep trek i.e. the camp will not be in a proper flat ground and also it is kind of jungle after Kooth Pathri so, not recommended to camp in the jungle.
It’s better you keep your camp until Kooth Pathri if you are planning for one.
How far is Kooth Pathri from the starting point?
Kooth Pathri is about 1-2hr distance from the starting point. I know you will be left with the whole day after reaching early (If you camp there).
There are 3-4 houses and probably what you can do is talk with the locals, play with the kids, and learn how the people live there and how difficult/easy the life there.
You can opt to go to Aru Valley and Green top. The time spent there will be good and the next day you can continue your trek towards the destination.
We spent about 1hr on our return because we were feeling too hungry that can’t walk even a step. So, a local aunty gave us chapati to eat, spent some time with the kids because it’s summer holidays (July) there and kids play all day.