Margalla Hills surround Islamabad from two sides as a continuation of The Himalayan Range. There are many trails for hiking in Islamabad. Some are hidden in these mountains which were discovered long ago and some of them have been introduced to the public recently. The Capital Development Authority and Forestry Department have been working hard to make these hiking trails safe and secure so that the locals and tourists can plan for hiking in Islamabad fearlessly. Many private clubs and groups organize excursions every year to explore nature. The curiosity to see the end of it motivates the hikers to climb and reach the destination. Because of extremely fertile soil, Margalla hills have thick forests and lush green grass. The area is rich in wildlife but they rarely come out in daylight.
What is hiking?
A long and rigorous walk on the path made in mountains is basically hiking. It’s a physical activity that explores the beauty of nature and sets the determination to complete a trail.
What is the difference between hiking and trekking?
We use the words Hiking and Trekking for the same meaning. But are they actually the same thing? Of course not! There is a big difference between the two activities. An adventurous activity on already made tracks within the mountains is hiking. It continues for a day or over a night only, ranging from 4 to 50 kilometres. While on the other hand, trekking is much more into wild forests or mountains, mostly off-track. Trekking is a long walk that continues for more than two days so it also involves camping. Trekking is usually considered trekking starting from 50 kilometres in distance.
For planning a hike on the trail, you should keep a water bottle, cap, and other small things that you might need. However, trekking has to be much more planned. Some of the essentials are a sleeping bag, food, and water for the number of estimated days, a tent, and warm clothes. Both activities are really good for physical and mental health, effective for reducing heart diseases, inducing high-calorie burn, and contributing to overall fitness.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular trails for hiking in Islamabad and its surrounding areas.
Margalla Hills Trail 3
The most commonly used trail for hiking in Islamabad is Trail 3 on Margalla Hills. Trail 3 has a starting point in F-6 Islamabad on Margalla Road. The trail goes to the height of 600 meters with a destination point at Monal Restaurant Islamabad. Have you checked out The Islamabad Restaurants You Will Die For? It has Monal as well! Most of the visitors prefer Trail 3 because it is secure and crowded with other visitors. In the beginning, the trail is steep which takes almost 30 minutes to cover, more like stairs. After completing this part, you reach a viewpoint from where you’ll be able to see the complete view of Islamabad with buildings like The Monument, The Centaurus Mall, Ufone Tower, and half of the city’s urban area. Most people turn back to the starting point from this viewpoint. While the regular hikers tend to complete the track.
After the viewpoint, you’ll experience a plain area for the maximum left trail. This chunk is dry and you won’t be able to find any waterfall nearby. Make sure you have enough water to avoid any sort of discomfort. Small benches are there for the visitors to take a rest from rigorous climbing. From this point, it takes one more hour of constant walking up to the top of the hill. The path has dense cover from thick trees, the sunlight rarely reaches this place. Thus, it’s relatively cold. Keep something warm as it gets chilly as the day passes.
Best Time To Hike at Trail 3
By reaching the top of the trail, you’ll witness the Monal restaurant. It is best to plan your hiking trip early morning. Hiking in the early morning leading to a lavish breakfast at Monal Restaurant can be a perfect plan on weekends. They offer Sunday brunch and Halwa Puri everyday. It could be a nice motivation to keep yourself committed to complete the hike. Right? Just think of all the yummy food you could have once you reach the final destination.
Trail 3 Hiking Track Difficulty
The track is not very difficult even for first-timers. The start of the trail boasts gradual steepness with small patches of the plain area here and there where you can catch your breath. Do some stretching or other similar exercises to warm up your body before starting on the trail to avoid muscle cramps in your body.
Trail 3 Hiking Time
It takes almost one hour and 30 minutes to complete trail 3 from one side if you go hiking on a regular basis. While on the other hand, it will take almost three hours to complete if you visit once or twice a year.
Margalla Hills Trail 5
Trail 5 is another very commonly used trail for hiking in Islamabad. Almost 1.5 kilometres ahead of trail 3, there is a quiet valley called Darra Jangla. Trail 5 lies in this heavily wooded valley. The entrance of the trail is in sector F-5 Islamabad. There is a sufficient car parking area and a small tuck-shop if you want to buy water or some snacks for the journey. After crossing the board of trail 5, you’ll find a large forest nursery, picnic spots, campsites, and a Training and Educational Center. The first 10 to 15 minutes walk is super easy and the difficulty level rises slowly as you keep climbing.
Trail 5 is running parallel to trail 3 and at some point, it is joined by trail 4. All three of them are leading to the Pir Sohawa Road. At the very start, there is a seasonal waterfall where most of the crowd can be seen enjoying with their friends and family. This waterfall continues to some distance with the trail which makes the entire experience even more serene. By reaching the top of the hill, there will be a checkpoint. From here you can see the marvellous scenery. By walking for almost 500 meters towards the main road, there are some restaurants and small stalls that you can visit. On hot summer days, you can enjoy the stall of Ice Factory which has crushed ice cones with mouthwatering flavours. Perfect to beat the heat! There is an ice cream stall too.
Best Time To Hike Trail 5
It’s better to plan your hiking in between the end of Feb to April before it gets hot up there. Half of the trail is covered in trees while half of it is dry and directly under the sun so plan wisely. The weather shouldn’t be very cold or hot.
Trail 5 Hiking Track Difficulty
The start of the trail is relatively easy. The second half of the trail could be extremely grinding for those who come here once or twice a year. A steep climb from here is very dry and the sun is directly over your head. Enough supply of water is very essential as it can get highly uncomfortable and impossible to reach the destination when you are thirsty. This strenuous hike will again get comparatively easy by the end of the trail.
Trail 5 Hiking Time
If you plan to reach the Pir Sohawa Road and come back to the Trail 5 parking area, it will take you almost 5-6 hours. A one-way trip can take from 2-3 hours. Walking coming down from the trail takes lesser time as compared to climbing up.
Margalla Hills Trail 6
Trail 6 or Chak Jabbi Trail is the most recent trail introduced for the general public. It can be accessed from the rear entrance of Faisal Mosque car parking. The trail is almost 4 kilometres long leading to a village called Jabbi. The trail has a thick jungle all around it. You will find a water spring after one and a half-hour of hiking. It will lead to dates and palm trees. You will experience gradual steepness while climbing on the trail.
After completing a hike of 4 kilometres, you will reach a ridge called Budho Ban. From here, the trail goes in three directions. You can either choose to turn back and reach the Faisal mosque parking area. Another option could be turning west and continue West towards the Ridge Trail and enter into another valley to come down. Or, continue straight on the ridge to reach Pir Sohawa Road.
The ridge trail starts from Kon Ban (Boulder Pass) and ends at Pir Sohawa. From here, you can overlook Islamabad. On your way, walking along the ridge, you can see Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the North. Passing through Olive gardens, some of the old houses can also be seen leading to the fig trees. Following the ridge on its Northern side will end up in Kalinjar Valley and towards the South will follow the ridge till Pir Sohawa.
Best Time To Hike Trail 6
The authorities work hard to keep all the trails secure for the public to use at any time. However, it’s better to go on a trail in daylight. The Chak Jabbi trail is rich in vegetation. You can access Water springs from multiple points. It’s one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Islamabad. Since it’s pretty new, you’ll find it more clean, calm and less crowded.
Trail 6 Hiking Track Difficulty
Half of the trail is on a relatively flatter surface. There are thick bushes on the way and it might get difficult to cross. After the plain area, there is a steep and rough hike. Make sure to wear durable and comfortable footwear for a smooth hike because the difficulty of this trail depends a lot on your shoes.
Trail 6 Hiking Time
It will take 6 hours to complete trail 6 from start to finish point. From starting point to Jabbi the distance is 4 kilometres. The ridge itself is 8 kilometres long so it makes the complete trail around 18 kilometres. It takes 5-6 hours of continuous walking to complete.
Hiking at Miranjani
If you go 80 kilometres away from Islamabad, there is another trail worth your visit. Miranjani is located in Abbottabad District. It is the highest peak in the Galiyat region. The trail starts near the Governor’s house in Nathia Gali at an elevation of 600 meters. On your way to the Miranjani peak, the entire path is covered in dense forest. From the top, beautiful views are waiting for you. The struggle to get to the top is really worth it. Mushkpuri Peak, Nathia Gali, and Azad Kashmir can be easily seen from this point. If you are lucky enough and the weather is clear, the mighty Nanga Parbat can also be seen.
The Miranjani Trail is very famous among students. A lot of college and university trips are organized to see the stunning view from this peak. It is important to note that the weather is cool in summers and very cold in winters. The hike gets tricky in winters. You’ll experience strong wind while climbing the steep area. Make sure you keep enough water supply and warm clothes. There is no drinking water available on the trail. Plan your trips smartly to have fun and avoid any kind of discomfort.
Best Time To Hike Miranjani
The best time to hike would be in Spring. In winters, there is heavy snowfall and hiking in such cold gets very difficult. Strong winds can make it almost impossible. Hike to Miranjani trail can be a day trip. If you are interested to see the starry night from the top of the mountain then camp there for a night.
Miranjani Hiking Track Difficulty
The total distance is around 4.69 kilometres. While hiking on this trail, you’ll see that the difficulty level is very mild as the soil is mostly soft with some patches of small rocks. The last 30 minutes could be strenuous as it’s a straight climb up to the top of it.
Miranjani Hiking Time
If you are fond of hiking and it’s in your regular routine then you’ll hardly take 90 minutes to complete the track. However, if it’s your first time, even then it won’t be that hard. You’ll get through it within 2-3 hours.
Hiking at Mushkpuri
If Miranjani is difficult for you then explore Mushkpuri Peak. It is the second-highest peak in Galiyat Region after Miranjani. The trek starts from Pine Hotels in Nathia Gali. It is located 90 kilometres away from Islamabad. The trail is around 4 kilometres long. The trail to Mushkpuri is very adventurous and simple at the same time. The surrounding area is covered with pine forest thus you’ll witness thick luscious, greenery.
From the top of the peak, the stunning view of River Jhelum, Bagh District, Azad Kashmir, and Circle Bakote can be seen. Travellers can capture this beauty in their cameras. The trail can be adventurous for many people. If you are interested in camping at night, that is also possible. In winters the Mushkpuri peak is covered with snow. It becomes an outstanding place for snow-fighting but getting up there would be a difficult task.
Best Time To Hike Mushkpuri
Again, the spring season is preferable for a hike to the Mushkpuri peak. In winters there is heavy snowfall thus a great opportunity for Skiing. However, climbing to the top of it is extremely difficult. Whereas, in mid Summertime the trail is very easy and less strenuous.
Mushkpuri Hiking Track Difficulty
As compared to Miranjani, hike to Mushkpuri is very easy because of the less steep trail. Youngsters can complete the trail in very little time. Many college and university trips are planned because of the easiness of the hike.
Mushkpuri Hiking Time
Since the trail is not very difficult, it can be completed in a maximum of 2 hours from the starting point to the top of the peak. Thus, takes around about 3-4 hours for a two-way hike. Taking along your water bottle and some snacks would be a good idea
Another scenic beauty we all should focus on is Bruti. It’s a beautiful trail for hiking in Islamabad located near Bari Imam. This spot is famous among youngsters for its adventure and somewhat difficulty in climbing. You can reach the final destination in two ways. For hiking, you can park your vehicles in the parking area for trail 5 and start walking. The trail leads to Bari Imam and Loi Dandi afterwards.
If you don’t want to go for a hike then using the bike trail to reach Baruti can be another option. A distance of 3 kilometers through a single road takes you near Baruti after which some of the distance has to be covered by foot. On your way, there is thick vegetation, mountains, and water streams surrounding the trail.
It is such a beautiful place to be at, after a difficult hike you will get a blue water stream. The stream is the best opportunity for swimming which will beat the scorching heat. The whole experience is worth a try. The trail was recently discovered and is less crowded than the others. So, if you are looking for a serene, secluded place, Baruti Trail can be the best location.
Best Time To Hike Bruti Islamabad
The best time to go hiking on Bruti Trail is from February till April. In these times, the water streams are running with cold water. Splashing this on your face could be very refreshing. Also, hiking is recommended in pleasant weather than in Summer or Winter as it is an outdoor activity.
Bruti Islamabad Hiking Track Difficulty
The Bruti Trail is a long track. It takes 12 kilometres to reach the final point however, if you take 2 kilometres off track, there is a lovely water steam connecting Bruti. To complete this trail, you should have a lot of stamina and determination. Youngsters are encouraged to come here, however, elders should not take the risk. Also, the track is rough and there are no benches to sit on which is why it is not recommended for families.
Bruti Islamabad Hiking Time
There is a trail for hiking which takes almost 5-6 hours to complete. The bike trail can be completed in an hour but one thing to be noted is that bikes can’t go till the end. There is a parking area for bikes after which you would have to walk.
Darra Kalinjar Train In Islamabad
Most of us would be unaware of Kalinjar Valley. It is one of the unforgettable villages of Islamabad. The trail leading to this valley is another very good option for hiking lovers. The trail starts from behind the sector E-8 and E-9 Islamabad. It can be accessed through the road separating the two sectors. For entrance to this area, you have to prove your identity so make sure you keep all the required proofs. Another path can be used which is behind Faisal Mosque, Using trail 6 and walking along the golf course of Naval Base. The actual starting point of this trail is a small bazaar located in Kalinjar Village. The village is situated near the Naval Complex. Most of the employees are basically the residents of this village.
From this village, you can follow the water stream which will take you to a Y-junction. Turning to the right will take you to another small village called Loran Di Gali through a ridge coming from Gandhian. Taking left however will take you to Kalinjar Gali which is the viewpoint. You can look down to Kalinjar Valley, Sanyai Valley, and KPK at the same time. At this point, you can decide if you want to move towards Sanyari Valley by taking the ridge or head towards Pir Sohawa. There are many villages and small areas that will come ahead. By opting for this trail, you can visit many places that are not even in our knowledge.
Darra Sanyari And Darra Balimah
There are other small link trails of about 2 kilometres where you can find fig trees and water springs on the way. These trails lead to other interesting, hidden places that you must find out.
Rock Climbing on Margalla Hills
Other than hiking on Margalla Hills, rock climbing is also a very daring outdoor activity. It can be fun and challenging at the same time. There are many spots in the Margalla Hills that offer this dangerous yet satisfying adventure. It’s a sport that improves your stamina and requires determination till the end. Before going for this activity, you should warm up your body with stretching and exercise. It requires proper training for which multiple groups offer classes to teach rock climbing.
Advance gears and equipment are available to support this adventure. Islamabad is one of the few cities in the world that provides opportunities to experience the daunting activity, because of the hill that supports rock climbing. Our hills are very much favourable thus there is considerable interest being developed here. It is important to note that Margalla Hills require at least intermediate or expert climbers. Beginners can take proper training to stay safe.
Before starting your climb make sure to test all your gears and abilities in advance to avoid any kind of injury. It can be pretty risky if your equipment is not safe enough. By checking a few things at the right time, some of the risks can be eliminated, however, you cannot overcome them fully. Another important thing in your checklist should be following proper instructions and make sure everything is as safe as possible.
There is always a chance of falling, Belaying is a technique used to support the climber through a tied rope. This reduces the chances of injury even if you fall. Most of the spots in Margalla Hills are very well equipped and convenient for climbing. With enough knowledge and practice, you can climb these hills safely. If you are a person who is always in search of new and exciting things, rock climbing should be your next thing to go for. Make sure to take proper coaching from experts to avoid any harm. All the best!
So here we are, talking about all the adventure is as exciting as it can be for real. Make sure you explore all the hiking trails in Islamabad because it’s an unforgettable experience every single time. We tried our level best to put forwards as much information as possible to make your planning accurate. Our readers should enjoy their hiking expeditions and rock climbing after taking all the useful precautionary measures for ensuring their safety.
Do let us know your feedback by commenting down below. Also, keep following us for more exciting know-how that you should have before exploring beautiful Pakistan. Don’t forget to share. Happy hiking day!
Which trail is best for hiking in Islamabad?
Trail 3 on Margalla Hills is the best track for hiking in Islamabad because of its various branches leading to the top of the mountain. From expert hikers and first-timers, everyone can complete this trail as it has fire track and a longer easy track. On average, it takes 3 hours to complete the trail from starting to the finish point which is Pir Sohawa.
How many trails are there in Islamabad?
There are a total of 8 trails for hiking in Islamabad including Trail 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 on the Margalla Hills and the rest of the 2 are in Saidpur Village and Bari Imam Trail. Islamabad is surrounded by the mountains from two sides which makes the hiking trails much more easily accessible. These trails vary in distances with different reaching points. You can choose the trail according to the desired difficulty and your experience of hiking.
How long is Trail 5?
Trail 5 for hiking in Islamabad is almost 5 kilometres in distance. The starting point is located almost at the end of Margalla Road. The initial 1.8 kilometres of the trail is very straight, without steep sections, making the total hike relatively easier. Trail 5 is running parallel to trail 3 so that could be your alternative route as well. Both lead to Pir Sohawa Road.