Trail #5 a Nature Hiking Track

If you love bird watching, follow, track and photograph wild flowers, butterflies and other wonderful natural elements during the spring then Trail #5 is for you. Unlike Trail #3, which is extremely popular among hikers in Islamabad, Trail #5 is less traveled, more natural and passes through some of the most scenic sections of the Margalla Hills.

The trail is over 5km long and reaches the village near Murad Gali on Pir Sohawa Road. This junction is at least 2-3 km walk from the Capital Viewpoint restaurant where trail #3 terminates. The trail is thin and gradually climbs up the hill. It will take a little over two hours at a steady pace up the hill to reach Murad Gali. But since it passes through an extremely scenic part of Margalla Hills, we recommend hikers to stop, enjoy and take in the atmosphere.

Very few people go up this trail. However, it is worth every second on it. Especially during the spring season. Due to the summer fast approaching, we expect hikers to carry water and light food items with them. Take a good camera as well to capture most natural elements on the trail.

Best Paratha Kabaab in Islamabad

If you truly want to enjoy your paratha, kabaabs and tikkas then you will have to earn it. And what best way to earn then to hike up the Margalla Hills via Trail #3. And we suggest hiking up with a near empty stomach to build up that appetite.

This weekend, Qasim and I did just that. With almost starving stomaches, and only mineral water to sustain us through our journey, we began our ascent of the Margalla Hills. The hills, as any Islamabadi will tell you, are the most beautiful feature of the capital city of Pakistan. They dot the North Western side and run through the length of the city. To one side, they extend and grow all the way to Murree, the picturesque and tourist town up into the Himalayan Mountain range, and on the other side protrude into the fertile Potohar valley.

Trail#3 begins at around 600 meters above sea level in Sector F-6 adjacent to Shalimar Cricket ground and reaches the height of 1100meters near the village of Pir Sohawa up on the hills. The trail is 5.5 Km long and criss crosses through some of the most beautiful, natural and serene surroundings.

Qasim on Trail 3

Qasim on Trail 3

This Sunday, the weather cooperated. After many days of rains and clouds, there was a welcome break as sun shone through making the day extremely good for hiking. We got there a little after midday and after light stretching exercises began our ascend. As we went up, the sounds of the city muffled away to make room for chirping birds, and whispering leaves in the mild wind. Occasionally, one may run across a monkey on the trail, but otherwise, it is just nature and you moving along nice broad path up the hill.

This Sunday there was an unusually large crowd out for a hike. But not many folks prefer to climb all the way. Most of the hikers usually turn back half way up the path. But this Sunday, we were determined to go all the way to enjoy our meal.

It took us a pleasant two hours to reach the village of Pir Sohawa at the top of the mountain. Once there, we immediately made our way to the Capital Viewpoint restaurant to fill our starving stomaches. After quickly occupying a bunch of seats we ordered our favorite Parathas, kabaabs and chicken tikka treat. Capital Viewpoint has been serving some of the most delicious meals since its inception in early 1990s. And after hiking for so long, it was worth the wait. We literally gobbled down a couple of tikkas and dozen seikh kabaabs in a matter of minutes. The hunger inside us was too much and we wanted second helpings but only resisted as we had another hour of descend planned.

So if you really want to enjoy your tikkas at Pir Sohawa, we suggest take Trail #3. You will not regret it.

Hiking up Margalla Hills

So you are visiting Islamabad (capital city of Pakistan) and not sure what to do? One activity that I recommend all to partake in is hiking up Margalla Hills. Hiking! Yes, surprisingly Islamabadis are a bit more prone to such adventures than their counterparts in Karachi and Lahore. And Margalla Hills provides a great uniqueness about a big city where one can just forget the worries of the day while climbing up the beautiful mountain.

You ask what is this hoopla about hiking? Well, you see those hills dotting the north-west of Islamabad city. They also host many hiking tracks that take you all the way up the mountain and beyond. Initially, these tracks were nothing but trails for the local village folks to travel up and down the hill. However, with the passage of time, they also become frequented by hikers who just wanted to enjoy a few hours. And one such track, called, Trail #3, (adjacent to Sector F-6/3) is one of the most popular among the hikers. It goes all the way to the top of the hill and meets up with the famous mountain top village, of Pir Sohawa.

A bit of stats about the track. It begins at 600meters above sea level and goes all the way to 1100meters. It is about 5 Kilometers long and it is all gradual moving up. So the round trip down is a good 10 Kilometers. And during the strenuously hot summer months, it seems like 100 Kilometers.

Well, Islamabad, like the rest of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent cities suffers from a very hot summer, where temperatures soar over 100 degrees Fahrenheit regularly. Hence, a typical climb becomes far difficult to achieve. But there is one great aspect of this summer heat. As you climb higher, you literally feel the temperature fall and become cooler around you and usually a light breeze constantly cools you down. It is one of the most wonderful feeling to have. However, I do recommend carrying a small bottle of water (or bigger if you like) all the time to hydrate yourself regularly.

There are numerous resting spots available where one can sit, rejuvenate and take in the atmosphere. The higher you go up, the more serene, beautiful, and calmer it becomes. On a clear day, you can see for miles literally. I, like many other fellow climbers, love to sit at the top and gaze the beautiful scenery in silence before heading back down.

The great thing is that it is not just guys, but lots of female Islamabadis also make it part of their regular routine to hike. Occasionally, one can spot a famous local personality including politicians and television stars. I have taken many foreigners and out of towners up the climb to let them enjoy Islamabad for what it really is. I recommend everyone to go up the track at least once during their visit to the capital city.