Trek Through Trails: The Margalla Hills
Residents of Islamabad are fortunate to have the beautiful Margalla Hills nearby, which provide pleasant weather and are popular among hiking enthusiasts. The name "Margalla" comes from the words "Mar" meaning snake and "galla" meaning home, referring to a small local snake called “Khar Kharya”. Acting as a natural barrier, the hills separate Khanpur lake in the north from Rawal lake in the south.
There are approximately thirty well-established trails in the Margalla Hills, frequented by local residents. The city administration has developed six hiking trails, each offering unique opportunities for half-day weekend hikes. Here's a brief overview of each trail.
TRAIL - 1
The trail starts behind Sectors E-8 and E-9 and consists of three interconnected sub-trails. Following a stream and it's not well-marked, requiring effort to navigate. After a challenging two-hour hike, you'll reach the ridge's shoulder and begin the descent. Although rarely used by hikers, friendly locals can be encountered.
TRAIL - 2
Trail - 2 to Damn-e-Koh is the shortest of the recognized trails, with two starting points near Marghazar Zoo and Pir Sohawa Road. Both routes merge halfway and lead to Damn-e-Koh. The trail is steep but takes only about 45 minutes to reach the top, making it great for a short Sunday hike with family.
TRAIL - 3
The most popular and well-maintained hiking trail. You can enjoy panoramic views of Islamabad, including major buildings and monuments. Many families consider the Viewpoint as the endpoint, but for more adventurous hikers, it's just one-third of the journey. Beyond the Viewpoint, the trail continues uphill through lush green trees, with benches placed along the way for resting. It's important to bring water bottles as there are no water sources nearby.
Finally, it takes about an hour of rigorous hiking from the mid-way point to reach the finish near the popular Monal Restaurant on Pir Sohawa Road. With its accessibility, clear markings, resting areas, cleanliness, and maintenance, Trail - 3 is a preferred choice for hikers of all ages.
TRAIL - 4
Trail - 4 is challenging and strenuous, starting from Pir Sohawa Road and heading west into the Margalla Hills. Initially, there is a water stream along the trail, but the rest of the trail is surrounded by jungle without nearby water sources. At the top, there are beautiful city views, including a rare glimpse of Faisal Mosque. It is less popular due to its difficulty and isolation, not recommended for families or kids. However, a group of four to five adults seeking a tough workout can find this trail rewarding.
TRAIL - 5
The trail consists of three sub-trails and connects with Trail - 3. It has a seasonal water stream at the starting point, which is a popular picnic spot. There's a freshwater spring for resting during the hike. The second half of the trail is steep and requires strenuous hiking. At the top, you'll have stunning views of Islamabad city. The trail concludes near a security check post on Pir Sohawa Road. A short walk west on the main road leads to Monal Restaurant.
TRAIL - 6
Trail - 6, also known as the Chak Jabbi Trail, is a newly recognized trail available to the general public. The trail gradually ascends through a dense jungle. After around 30 minutes from the starting point, there is a scenic water spring surrounded by date and palm trees. The second half of the trail involves a steep climb and eventually reaches the small village of Jabbi. The trail is surrounded by thick trees, and the water spring can be accessed at various points during the hike. The trail is well-marked, properly maintained, and suitable for a family hike, taking about 3 hours to complete.