The KGL needs no introduction as it is one of the most mesmerizing and famous treks in the vicinity of Sri Nagar. The trek is well known among the trekkers & backpacker community of India resulting more than 5000+ trekkers hikes this trek every year.
The Kashmir Great Alpine Lakes Trek involves passing through a multitude of high altitude alpine lakes of Kashmir, the magnificent early morning view of the mountains and landscapes, lakeside camping and an encounter with the flora and fauna of the northwestern Himalayas. There’s also a breathtaking ancient 8th-century temple belongs to Lord Shiva at the edge of the alpine forest at Naranag.
This KGL trek starts at Sonamarg but it can be done the other way round from Naranag too. If you’re the first timer then I would t advice if you can spend a night at Sonamarg on the meadows at Sutkadi before starting the trek for necessary acclimatization and completing arrangements for porters, mules, or purchasing provisions that you may have missed or you can read this Checklist For Backpacking and Hiking for everything you might need. You will also need a permit for this trek which can be obtained from J&K Tourism Sri Nagar & Leh both.
This trek is a must do trek if you want to experience the serenity of the region. A treat for all the nature, woods and meadows lovers. You won’t be getting any mobile network but I assure you will get a better connection with nature from day 1 to the last day. You will be seeing the giant mountains covered with dense fog, melting white layers of snow, snow patches on the top of the mountains and icebergs floating on the lake’s turquoise surface. The green grassy shores with wildflowers make the lake more picturesque.
My Trek Itinerary
Altitude: 2377m to 3505m
Time: 6 hours, 6 km
Trek gradient: Moderate.
5 hours of steep ascent followed by a normal plane trail for an hour.
Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Sonmarg. You will find only one source until Table-Top to refill your water bottles.
Altitude: 3505m to 4100m
Time: 8 hours, 13 km
Trek gradient: Moderate.
Trekking in the first hour is gentle ascent until Nichanai. From there it is gradual ascent followed by an hour long steep hike to the pass. The second half of the day has steep descent from the pass for about an hour easing off into a flat walk until Vishansar.
Water sources: You don’t need to carry much water as you will by trekking by the river throughout the day but while hiking towards the Pass, do carry sufficient water from the nearest water stream. After the pass, you will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles.
Altitude: 3583m to 4175m
Time: 7 hours, 10 km
Trek gradient: Moderate to Difficult.
Starting hour is a normal ascent. Hiking Gadsar pass is really difficult for first timers which will take 2-3 hours easily followed by 1 hour of steep descent and a level trek towards the lake.
Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Vishnusar. You will find sources along the trail to refill your water bottles in very few places.
Altitude: 3586m to 3764m
Time: 8 hours, 12 km
Trek gradient: Moderate
The third day starts with 2-3 hours of steep ascent right while the second half has a level trek.
Water sources: Carry at least 2 liters of water from Gadsar. You will not get water in the first half of the day and even if you get that water might not be suitable to drink.
Altitude: 3764m to 3574m
Time: 7 hours, 9 km (this day I lost so we spent 13 hours)
Trek gradient: Difficult. 30 minutes each of gradual ascent and descent followed by a steep ascent for about 45 and then by a steep descent. Similarly ascending and descending trail all the way through.
Water sources: Carry enough water. You will find a stream midway during the descent to refill your water bottles until Gangabal.
Altitude: 3574m to 2275m
Time: 7-8 hours, 11 km
Trek gradient: Moderate. A mix of ascents and descents for 6 km followed by a very steep descent all the way down till Naranag
Water sources: Carry sufficient water from Nundkol Lake. You will find sources along the trail after 2hours from the trek. You will find a few more stream midway during the descent to refill your water bottle.
Getting from Naranag other places may cost you high as only private taxi are available after lunch from Naranag. I would suggest you stay at Naranag and explore local temple built in 6th century by Pandavas. The bus & shared taxi towards Kangan are run at 8 am every morning.
KGL was my first ever trek attempt, therefore, I was very nervous & tensed. I was doing this trek with my traveling community member, Abhijeet Srivastava who joined me from Allahabad (UP). We both finished this trek in time successfully and that’s without any help of a guide, mule or supporter. I would like to thank my friend, Nawaab & the Director of J&K Tourism who helped us obtaining the permit.
What are you waiting for now? Pack your rucksack and leave to trek this amazing series of lakes because Kashmir is really beautiful.
Since then I did many treks and I still feel, KGL has been the prettiest trek I have ever done.
Budget: As we were doing it by ourselves so I spent only INR 625/- at this trek. You can also experience this beautiful trek at nominal charges by using these common skills and hiring local guides.
Stay: You’ll have to camp near to every river.
Energy: Make sure if you’re not a regular trekker, you do practice every day for at least 30 days before the commencement of the trek.