Islamabad hiking trails are a fantastic place where you can experience the beauty of nature with every step you take. This guide is your ticket to discovering the charming trails and trekking spots that turn Islamabad into a paradise for locals and tourists. From the famous Margalla Hills to hidden gems like Makhniyal Second Ridge, get ready for an adventure you’ve never had before. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) ensures the safety and maintenance of these trails. 

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The hiking trails in Islamabad especially mix nature and adventure, making it a place everyone should check out, whether you live nearby or you’re visiting. Whether you’re just starting or a seasoned hiker, exploring the beauty of Islamabad’s trails guarantees an unforgettable experience. Get set for a journey where each trail has its own story and shows you the awesome natural sights of Islamabad.

Ideal hiking weather involves blue skies, gentle breezes, and plenty of daylight to create the perfect setting for outdoor adventures. However, as September nears its end, keeping an eye on changing weather patterns becomes essential.

1. Margalla Hills Hiking Trails

The Margalla Hills, visible from every corner of Islamabad, are a constant reminder of the city’s natural beauty. Margalla Hills is a part of the Himalayan mountain range and is a green haven near Islamabad. It also offers historical sites for those interested in history, making it a diverse destination for exploration. The Margalla Hills, home to diverse flora and fauna, draw domestic and international tourists with their greenery. 

With the arrival of pleasant weather, the Islamabad hiking trails season beckons. Residents have the privilege of being close to the Margalla Hills, making these trails easily accessible for healthy activities and nature exploration. Each trail, based on personal experience, promises a memorable exploration of Islamabad’s natural wonders. So, lace up your hiking boots and discover the beauty of Margalla Hills.

Trail 1

Trail No. 1 in Islamabad’s Margalla Hills offers a challenging yet exciting hiking experience. This trial starts in front of the National Defense University, Sector E/8, and is considered tougher than others. It leads to the top of Pir Sohawa road in about two hours, passing through three ridges. Accessing the trailhead is easiest from the junction of Agha Shahi Avenue and the National Defence University, reaching village Kalinger. The trail starts near a small mazar complex in the village, following a water stream into the mountains. Unlike marked trails, this one requires effort to explore but is free of litter, mainly used by locals. You’ll encounter three ridges before reaching Pir Sohawa Road or the top of Margalla Ridge. Sub-trails add some adventure, but be cautious as there’s a potential danger from leopards, making the journey thrilling.

This trail provides an excellent workout and the views are also breathtaking, offering glimpses of Islamabad, Faisal Mosque, and stunning sunsets. This trail is not recommended for kids and families. It is ideal for a group of four or five, properly rationed for a thrilling half-day hiking trip.

Trail 2

Trail-2, also called DAMN-E-KOH or ZOO trail. It is the shortest trail in Islamabad among the six recognised hiking trails. There are two starting points—one near Marghazar Zoo and the other at the beginning of Pir Sohawa Road, close to Trail-4 parking. The hike from the Zoo to Damn-e-Koh is one of the simplest Margalla trails, great for families. It starts behind Islamabad Zoo and ends at Daman-e-Koh, offering an easy hike. Daman-e-Koh is a popular spot with attractions like playgrounds and street food. The trail goes beyond Daman-e-Koh, reaching Cactus Ridge, with beautiful views of Islamabad.

Families and kids can safely explore Trail-2 route-1 to Damn-e-Koh, but it’s not recommended for individuals above 60. Only young people should take on Trail-2, route 2, leading to Pir Sohawa.

Trail 3

Trail 3 is well-marked on Google Maps, starting near Islamabad Zoo. The journey from the parking lot to Monal covers 6.1 km via the regular track and takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes for an average hiker. The steeper tracker is 5 km, so hikers should study the map beforehand to avoid detours. It starts at Sector F-6. After a 30-50 minute hike, you reach a viewpoint, and another 45-60 minutes take you to Pir Sohawa. 

The aroma of delicious food welcomes you to Pir Sohawa, where you can choose between two famous restaurants, “The Monal” and “La Montana.” For more open-air restaurants in Islamabad check out this guide. However, this trail is known for its breathtaking views. It offers three rest spots with benches and continues to Pir Sohawa. This well-maintained trail is a favorite among locals and foreigners, providing a great starting point for hiking, even with kids. Nature along the trail is peaceful, with the fresh and cool air. Remember to bring water as there are no stores along the way.

Trail 4

Trail 4 is a challenging and narrow Islamabad hiking trail within Margalla Hills National Park, known for its dense forest and potential wildlife encounters. The trail, starting from a marked parking area on Pir Sohawa Road, offers a loop around the local mountain village of ‘Dhok Jeevan.’ Connected laterally with Trail-6, it can also link to the start of Trail-6 behind Faisal Mosque. The loop trail offers no turning back, emphasizing the importance of completing the Dhok Jeevan Loop to avoid covering the same distance on the return journey. The trail leads to Talhar Mor on the main Pir Sohawa road, where hikers can find transport back to the parking area. Trail No. 4 acts as a link between Trails 3 and 5, with a length of approximately 8.5 km.

Despite being in common use by locals, it attracts fewer hikers due to its difficulty and isolation. Not recommended for kids and families, Trail 4 is suitable for groups of four to five adults seeking a strenuous weekend workout. It offers stunning views of the Twin Cities and Monal Restaurant. Accessible via 9th Avenue, Margalla Road, and Faisal Avenue, Trail 4 requires about 4 to 5 hours on average. 

Trail 5

Trail 5 in Islamabad is like a haven for nature lovers, providing a peaceful break from the busy city life. This trail offers a wonderful experience for hikers, explorers, and anyone who wants to find peace in nature. Trail 5 caters to different fitness levels, with sections ranging in difficulty. Beginners can start with easier parts and gradually try more challenging areas with rewarding views.

Climbing this Islamabad hiking trails treats you to amazing views of Islamabad changing from a cityscape to green hills and valleys. It’s a perfect opportunity for stunning photos. The best times to visit Trail 5 are during the mild and pleasant weather of spring and autumn. Avoid extreme weather for a more enjoyable hike. Trail 5 connects to attractions like Faisal Mosque, Saidpur Village, Rawal Dam, and the Pakistan Monument. Explore these sites to complement your hiking adventure.

Trail 6

Explore Trail 6, also called the Chak Jabbi Trail. This trail is located near the famous Faisal Mosque, and a pleasing journey covering about 4 kilometres, ending in the charming village of Jabbi. The trail connects to Pir Sohawa Road, providing options to connect with Ridge Trail or return. Trail 6 is a challenging yet rewarding experience, displaying nature’s wonders in an urban setting.  The trail winds through thick forests, gradually going uphill. A pleasant surprise awaits hikers about 30 minutes into the hike. While Trail 6 is generally safe, it’s best to avoid hiking after sunset due to monkeys. Summers may pose a risk of bushfires, so be cautious if you notice smoke. Stick to hiking from sunrise to sunset for the safest experience.

Start your Trail 6 adventure from the left parking area of Faisal Mosque. Make sure you have essentials like a water bottle, sunglasses, a cap, and a hiking stick if you like. The trail is 4.2 km long, taking 80 to 120 minutes to reach the top, with a total duration of 3 to 3.5 hours considering the steep elevation. Trail 6 offers many sit-outs, picnic spots, and a bird-watching point in the initial 2 km.

Trail 7

Discover Trail 7, the brand-new Islamabad hiking trail in Margalla Hills brought to you by the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Launched in August 2022 by CDA Chairman Muhammad Usman, this 5-kilometer trail starts at Sector C-12 and ends at Kanthala, offering a fantastic outdoor experience for Islamabad’s residents. 

Trail 7 offers moderate to intense hiking, taking around 120 to 150 minutes to complete. Within the first 500 meters, a water stream adds joy to the experience. While the stream is dry in winter, it comes to life in the summer and monsoon seasons, from June to September. The trail has both easy and challenging patches. Beginners can opt for a 2.5 km hike, while experienced hikers can tackle the full 5 km, depending on energy levels.

Beyond the 5 km mark, Kainthala village offers more trekking opportunities, including the famous “Alexander Well” in Losar Baoli, believed to date back to the era of Alexander the Great. Wrap up your hiking adventure at Trail 7 by visiting the café at the end, where you can enjoy tea, coffee, and snacks. With careful planning and risk assessment, this trail guarantees a fantastic hiking journey for all adventurous individuals. 

2. Makhniyal Second Ridge Trail

Makhniyal Second Ridge Trail is considered one of the best trails in Islamabad, offering a unique perspective of the city’s two major lakes, Rawal Lake and Khanpur Lake. This trail is located behind Trail No 1-6 Margalla Trails. It’s important to note that the track is more suitable for jeeps and off-road vehicles than traditional Islamabad hiking trails. Some sections can be dangerous, with sudden climbs and narrow channels. Jeep-able or not, some adventurous groups, including tough bicycle enthusiasts, use this route to reach Khanpur Dam.

The journey takes around 2-2.5 hours with breathtaking views of the hills and pine trees. Along the trail, you can enjoy a spot that offers a panoramic view of two significant dams in Pakistan, the Rawal Dam and the Khanpur Dam.

3. Pir Sohawa to Ghora Gali 

The Pir Sohawa to Ghora Gali trail is a tough hike in Islamabad. It is great for those wanting to practice for Northern hikes. It’s a long 28-kilometer trail that takes about 7-9 hours to finish. The trail connects Margalla Hills with Murree Hills, giving you awesome views of Rawal Lake and Khanpur Lake. Beginning at Pir Sohawa, about 8 km from Monal, the trail goes through Pharilla and other villages, ending near Lora Road close to Ghora Gali. It’s not just for a day hike; many hikers camp here before heading to the northern areas. 

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As we finish exploring Islamabad’s beautiful trails, it’s clear that this city is a fantastic place for hiking. Whether you’re a pro or just starting, these trails have something for everyone. Put on your hiking boots, take a deep breath of the fresh air, and let Islamabad’s natural beauty enchant you.


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