Monsoon is almost upon us – and with it comes the relief from the immense heat of this year’s seemingly unending summer. And for Mumbaikars, that means getting out for a weekend can include the great outdoors. What better way to both get fit and enjoy the beautiful greenery of the monsoon than heading to the Western Ghats for a trek?
We’ve hiked a ton of trails in the region to give you a list of the six best day treks to try out this monsoon – from easiest to toughest.
1. Karnala Bird Sanctuary
Where: Karnala Reserve, NH66, Panvel
Karnala is one of Mumbai’s all-time favourites, and still one of the best beginner treks in the state. The drive to Karnala takes about 1.5 hours from Mumbai, and we recommend that you get there by 7am to avoid the mid-morning rush. Karnala at dawn is tranquil and lush. The trek to the fort will take about an hour and a half, and the views from the top are fantastic. Watch out for the monkeys though – they won’t hesitate to steal your biscuits.
Where: Thakurwadi, NH93, Pali
Sudhagad makes for a fun morning trek, especially when it’s raining. The base village, Thakurwadi, is about a 2.5 hour drive away, but the road itself is very beautiful. The hike is relatively easy thanks to steel ladders and trail routes put in by the locals. The flat top hosts two temples and the stunning Sudhagad Fort, one of the best preserved – and oldest – forts near Mumbai. The stone steps can be slippery when wet, but the gorgeous structures are well worth exploring.
3. Lohagad + Visapur
Where: Bhaje, Off Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Lonavala
Lohagad and Visapur are twin forts near Lonavala that are individually quite easy, but together can pose quite the challenge. Each has to be ascended individually, so budget at least 4 hours for both. We’d recommend starting with the easier Lohagad. Climbing the stairs all the way to the top shouldn’t take more than an hour, and there are beautiful views of Pawna Lake along the way. After you’re back down, head about a kilometer down the road to the base of Visapur. This trek, though short, is more challenging. There are no stairs or ladders to ease the climb – the last 500 meters are on a steep rocky incline that can be treacherous in the rains. But the views at the top are worth the effort.
Where: Dehari, Near Murbad
Gorkhagad is a small fort nestled on a sharp pinnacle in the Sahyadris. The base village, Dehari, is about two hours away, near the town of Murbad. The best time is to go early, so you can tackle the steep climbs without too many disturbances. This trek is great if you like rock climbing. Though not a professional-grade slope, it offers high exposure, so it’s not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced. From the top, you can see incredible vistas of the nearby fort of Machindragad and the dense green surrounding forests.
Where: Khireshwar, Malshej Ghat
Harishchandragad is one of the most difficult and exhausting treks in the state. There are seven routes to the top, but the most scenic is the Khireshwar route. The fort is about 7km away from the base village, so it’s a relatively long walk. The rocky patches and steep ascents make this a particularly hard trek during the monsoon. The most amazing part of Harishchandragad is the Konkan Kada, a curved cliff with an overhang that overlooks a drop of 1423m. The views of the Konkan from the top are beyond breathtaking. Though the trek can be completed in a day, most hikers prefer to camp on the top and watch a splendid sunrise the next morning before descending.
Where: Baari, NH44, Bhandardara
At 5400ft, Kalsubai is the highest point in Maharashtra. Since the peak holds religious significance, it attracts a lot of devotees who want to make the top. We’d recommend starting early – around 7am – to avoid the crowds (and the drive takes at least 3.5 hours from Mumbai). Along the way, you’ll cross deep streams, steep climbs and rocky outcrops, making the experience very demanding. The summit holds a sacred Hanuman temple and offers jaw-dropping views of its surroundings – including Bhandardara Lake, Wison Dam, and – on a clear day – Harishchandragad.
Trekking is a fun and healthy activity, but make sure you always have the right equipment on hand. For high-quality outdoor gear, including tents, sleeping bags, rucksacks, walking poles, GoPros, and more, check out Mutterfly for fast, easy rentals.