Trekking in Kerala: Places to Go & Highlights

What is the first word that comes to your mind when talking about Kerala? Undoubtedly, it’s beach and backwaters. The golden beaches of Kerala, overlooking the Arabian Sea, or the lush backwater often attracts tourists from different part of the globe. But, that’s not all. Kerala has a lot more to offer to its tourists, with an adventure streak in mind.

Since Kerala is primarily located on the Western Ghat range, the state is surrounded by magnificent hills and mountains. These natural structures are ideal for trekking and hiking, and offers the vacationers a chance to explore the different side of the beautiful state.

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Here are some of the most interesting trekking trails of Kerala (arranged in the order of difficulty), ideal for tourists looking for some new experience.

1. Illikkal Kallu

Address: Illikkal Kallu Rd, Moonnilavu, Kerala 686586

The Illikkal Kallu, the first name in the list, is the part of an interesting rock cluster just above the Illikal Mala. With an elevation of 1,220 m (4,000 ft.) above mean the sea level, from the summit trekkers can get the stunning view of the entire range. Many locals refer this place as the Lightening Rock (Kolliyan Para) for its propensity to get struck by lightning.

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•    Type of hike: Circuit
•    Time and distance: 6 km (3.8 miles) in 4.5 hours
•    Guides: Not required
•    What to carry? Water and light snacks.

2. Top Station Trek

Address: Munnar - Top Station Hwy, Top Station, Kerala 625582

Close to Munnar, the Top-Station Trek is another easy trek suitable for beginners. The summit is 1,880 m (6,170 ft.) above mean sea level, and can be accessed via Munnar. Photography enthusiasts can have a gala time capturing the serene and mesmerizing view of the surrounding valleys and hills. The trek starts from the Top Station view-point. Trekkers have to descent till Kurangani village, marking the end of the trail. The trekking trails crosses few tribal villages en-route.

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•    Type of hike: Descent
•    Time and distance: 9 km (5.6 miles) in 5 hours
•    Guides: Not required
•    What to carry? Water and light snacks  

3. Chembra Peak Trek

Address: Chembra Peak Road, Vythiri, Kerala 673577

The beautiful Chembra Peak is next name on this trekking in Kerala list. Located at the height of 2,100 m (6,890 ft.) above mean sea level, the place is one of the highest peaks of Southern India. Close to Wayanad, the trekking trail boasts of a moderately difficult track and breathtaking view. Permissions from the forest department are required for the trek.

•    Type of hike: Circuit
•    Time and distance: 10 km (6.2 miles) in 6.5 hours
•    Guides: Required
•    What to carry? Water, snacks, and lunch.
•    Passes can be obtained from the Chembra Forest Office.

4. Kolukkumalai Peak Trek

Address: Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, Road, Kottagudi, 625582

Just off the borders of Tamil Nadu, the Kolukkumalai Peak is located in the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate. Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful trails for trekking in Kerala – the ascent to the peak is moderately difficult. Located at the elevation of 2,170 m (7,120 ft.) from the sea level, the trek to the Kolullumalai Peak takes around 6 to 7 hours. The trek starts from the Kurangani Village, passing over the grasslands, a scenic tea gardens, and steep slopes, ends at the summit.

•    Type of hike: Ascent
•    Time and distance: 11 km (6.5 miles) in 7 to 7.5 hours
•    Guides: Recommended  
•    What to carry? Water, snacks, and lunch.
•    Take a small break at the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate – it is one of the highest elevated tea garden and good place to refill the supplies.

5. Lion Tailed Macaque Trail (Circuit)

Address: Shendurney Wild life division, Thenmala, 691308

Crossing across the forest trails of Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary (Kollam), the trek to the Lion Tailed Macaque is not only adventurous but an educative experience. The track through the forest runs to the protected regions of the forest, where trekkers can come face to face with the varied flora and fauna of the region including the fabled Lion-tailed Macaques, elephants, and large flocks of birds. Overall, the given trail for trekking in Kerala is simply beautiful.

•    Type of hike: Circuit
•    Time and distance: 18 km (11.5 miles) in 12 hours
•    Guides: Required
•    What to carry? As recommended by the forest officials.
•    Following the guidelines of forest officials is crucial for ensuring the safety of the trekkers. Often forest guards accompany the trekkers during the expedition for ensured safety.

6. Meesapulimala Peak Trail

Address: Kannan Devan Hills, Tamil Nadu 685616

The Meesapulimala Peak, officially located on the Tamil Nadu borders, is one of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats. Located between the Palani Hills and Annamalai Hills, the trekking trail is ideal for experienced trekkers. Although there are two trails for the summit, 8 kilometer-trek via Rhodo Valley or 15 km (9.3 mi) trek through the Kolukkumalai tea estate, the later trail has a limited access. Usually, trekkers need permits (issued by the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC)) for trekking through the region.

•    Type of hike: Circuit
•    Time and distance: 8 km (5 miles) in 7 hours
•    Guides: Required
•    What to carry? Water, lunch, and snacks.
•    The mandatory permits for Meesapulimala Peak trekking in Kerala can be obtained for Kerala Forest Development Corporation, Munnar.

FAQ on Trekking in Kerala

a.  Best time to go for a trek

Usually, October to March is recommended for trekking. During the time the weather is perfect and sky is clear.

b.  Equipment to carry while trekking in Kerala

While trekking, it is necessary to carry required equipment for a comfortable trip. Wearing well-fitted clothes is recommended to for the trip. Also, remember to carry water and light snacks. Photography enthusiasts can carry camera, but remember to carry light lenses since the trek can be quiet hectic.

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