Located at the foothills of Pir Panjal and Karakoram Mountain ranges, Kashmir is synonymous with paradise on Earth. Nature has bestowed the valley with serendipity and landscapes that mesmerize anyone visiting this beautiful destination. During the winters, the Kashmir valley becomes the hotshot for snowshoeing in India. And the best place for snowshoeing experience has to be Gulmarg.
Gulmarg is located about 25 miles west of Srinagar. It is known for its intriguing landscapes throughout and boasts the longest Gondola in Asia that takes you up to 13,400 ft above sea level. Besides, the Gulmarg winter season can be enjoyed if you are into adventure sports and definitely a great place for your first snowshoeing experience.
Skiing Trails in Gulmarg
It does not matter if you are a beginner at snowshoeing or a pro. There are numerous trails along the region which cater to every type of traveler. To be specific, Gulmarg has two in-bounds trails and nine thrilling and enticing trails near Gulmarg. So, if you were wondering which is best for you, then grab some snacks and continue reading.
In-bound Trails in Gulmarg
The in-bound trails at Gulmarg are surrounded by long-perched pine trees covered in snow and sparkle like a star when the sunray falls. One of these trails provides the adrenaline rush to the pro snowshoers, while the other is perfect for the first-timers.
The Gondola Bowl
The gondola bowl is pretty huge and spreads across different levels. Once you reach the top of the bowl, one of the trails goes towards the northern aspect, straight under the gondola via Mary’s Shoulder, and the other goes towards the southern side. However, these trails have a 2.6 km of slope line that gradually goes down from 3950 meters to the base ground (2650 meters).
The northern aspect range walls are about 38 degrees, and as intimidating as it sounds, it’s actually enjoyable and worth every thrill. As the trail goes from north to northwest, the sub-ridges are more rugged, and therefore, require high-level experience while snowshoeing in the north aspect.
The southern aspect is quite similar to the slope of the walls. As it goes down, from south to southeast, the sub-ridges are exposed to solar radiation from morning till late afternoon. And as a result of that, the snow transforms fast and gets more sugar-like. South aspect is ideal for intermediates because the trail is covered with rock formations and has more small couloirs to play and spend some good time.
Surface Lift – Babyslope
The surface lifts are small slopes that do not go up beyond 50 to 100 meters – situated around the Gulmarg golf course. No prior experience is needed for snowshoeing around the surface lift trail. If you are not confident enough, you can hire an instructor and rent proper snowshoeing gear for approximately $125 per day. Enjoy snowshoeing around the open vistas of Gulmarg. And watching other tourists playing, laughing, or making snow fairies is an experience in itself.
Skiing Trails around Gulmarg
There are nine different trails, and each of these is exhilarating. Gulmarg receives an annual rainfall of approximately 14 meters, and because of this, the Gondola Bowl might remain shut in case of extreme weather conditions. But hey, the Tangmarg, Monkey Hill, and Sunshine Peak trails are as good as the gondola bowl and can be enjoyed to the very core.
These three snowshoe destinations are off-beat and rarely visited by travelers. Monkey Hill and Tangmarg are similar, and both of the terrains are guarded by tall coniferous trees. The surrounding environment creates an ambiance of a faraway land and makes you feel like you are about to meet Elsa – the frozen queen. The slope lines are about 250 to 550 meters, and you will come across many small and big couloirs and rocks to level up the fun of snowshoeing.
Whereas Sunshine Peak is a whole experience in itself. There are 3 days / 2 night and 2 days / 1-night packages available for you to make the most out of your Gulmarg snowshoeing trip. You will travel to some stunning and remote Himalayan scenery away from the crowds. The Sunshine peak trail is full of snowfields, moraines, ridges, peaks, couloirs, and chutes. A forest with glades and chutes in the trees is the last stretch of terrain you will hike to get to the creek that flows to Drung valley.
During the nighttime – experience the joy of spending one or more nights beneath the star between some of the world’s best mountains. Capture the extraterrestrial milky way galaxy and maybe dance around the bonfire.
Best Accommodations in Gulmarg
If you want to get the most out of Gulmarg, the ski-in and ski-out are the best accommodations to opt for. It cuts down the time it takes to go to the Gulmarg Gondola bowl and surrounds you with lovely forests, wildlife, and the Himalayas.
Top 5 Ski-in, ski-out Accommodations in Gulmarg
The majority of Gulmarg hotels are located directly to the north, between 100 and 300 meters from the Gulmarg Gondola’s base station. A bit further up the hill, there are numerous Gulmarg Hotels that can accommodate enthusiastic ski, snowboarders, and snowshoers. Each of these hotels is very pleasant, with central heating, generators, in-room toilets, and hot water available 24 hours a day. These motels or huts have wood stoves or personal gas space heaters, as well as hot showers (on occasion), however, the majority provide hot water buckets that must be ordered ahead of time. They are welcoming, with a lot of personalities, moods, and genuine culture.
- Pine Palace Resort and Pine Palace Platinum
- The Meadows Hotels and Resorts
- Hotel Rosewood
- The Gulmarg Resort
- Falak Hut (budget alternative)
Well, you are all ready to explore and have fun on your very first snowshoeing experience, and what better place to start with other than Gulmarg, Kashmir, India. And do tell us which of these trails sounds interesting to you?
Written and Edited by: Sneha Choudhury