Waterfall Cafe trek -  A quiet and serene hike near Mcleodganj

Waterfall Cafe trek - A quiet and serene hike near Mcleodganj

When I was walking in the mountains with the Japanese man and began to hear the water, he said, ‘What is the sound of the waterfall?’ ‘Silence,’ he finally told me
— Jack Gilbert, Collected Poems

If you find Triund to be loud and boisterous this summer, we recommend taking a quiet trek to Waterfall Cafe. The Waterfall Cafe trek is a 2.5-kilometre / 1-hour easy trek with a waterfall and a tea shop at its terminus. You may extend the length and difficulty of this trek by following the waterfall rivulet, upstream. 

Trip Log

There are times when you seek the company of your fellow humans and there are times when you want to be left alone with your own solitude. After a boisterous night at Triund, where Punjabi music and catcalls kept us up through the night, we needed a day of quiet introspection. Tinku, the ever helpful owner of Rest-A-While cafe, adjacent to Gallu Temple ([view in google maps]) suggested, we head to the Waterfall Cafe for a sojourn. Waterfall Cafe trek brings back old memories for us. In 2001, it was our first trek in the Dhauladhars and during this trek, we were first introduced to “bicchu booti” (Urtica dioica). Bicchu booti (Hindi: बिच्छू-बूटी) a.k.a. stinging nettle grows wild in this forest and has caught many an inexperienced trekker in its stinging snare. 

Brennnessel1 by Uwe H. Friese, Bremerhaven 2003 from Wikipedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Little has changed on the Waterfall Cafe trek since 2001, except for the explosion of guest-houses at Gallu temple. The trail is still the same narrow path that leads through a canopy of trees, crossing two mountain rivulets en-route. In summers, chances are you will come across a few Gaddis and their livestock on this trail. The goats and sheep don’t mind being petted and the Gaddi dogs are usually as easy going as the trail.

This handsome fella came out of nowhere, followed us all the way to the waterfall and then disappeared.

The cafe at the waterfall makes the usual tea shop fare ala chai, coffee, omelette, Maggi and carries a few ready to eat snacks. If you have the urge to walk more, you can choose to follow the rivulet upstream. The rivulet makes numerous waterfalls along its journey and it is easy to find your own little personal nook among the boulders. This is a perfect place to read, contemplate or enjoy a good cup of masala tea as you watch the clouds float past.

Lying down on boulders, hearing the gushing rivulet flow past us.

Hardcore trekkers may find this trek not much of a challenge. But if you keep on following the rivulet upstream, you will soon be scrambling on scree and boulders (more on that trail later). Yet, not every trek has to be a physical challenge. Any trek, irrespective of difficulty, that lets you commune with nature is an ideal trek. We would pick this easy yet less crowded trail over Triund trek any day during the summers. The Waterfall Cafe trek may be short but as is often the case in trekking and life in general…quality trumps quantity.

Trail Detail

The trek starts at Gallu Temple, 2 kilometres from Dharamkot. 20 metres from Gallu temple the trail splits into two. The broader trail on your right leads to Triund, while a narrower trail to your left leads to Waterfall Cafe. The trek trail snakes along a water pipeline that supplies water to Dharamkot. Keep this pipeline to your right and you’re sure to find your way to the cafe. After passing through guest house courtyards, we climb a small wooden fork.

Wooden fork and the water pipeline to the right

After the fork, the trail dives into a forest with the water pipe clearly visible to your right. During summers and autumn, leaves and rotting branches drape this narrow trail. The fallen leaves add a splash of earthy brown and grey to the landscape nevertheless, they can get slippery and treacherous after a shower. A bit of caution goes a long way on this trail.

Leaf covered trail

560 metres from the starting point there is a tea shack to your left. After the tea shack, the trail undulates through the forest. The gradient is gradual and the gentle ascents and descents never leave you huffing and puffing for breath. 650 metres from the tea shack is the first rockslide. The rockslide may look intimidating, but it's easily crossed. 300 metres from the first rockslide, another rockslide awaits you and this is as easily crossed as the first. 

Rockslide en-route

After these rockslides, The trail dives again into a canopy of trees. Along the way, you cross a small section that is cleverly reinforced with logs and a few Tibetan prayer flags are strung along the route.

Trail cleverly bolstered with some logs

At the end, the trail dips to meet the cafe. From Gallu temple to the cafe the trail is just under 2.5 kilometres and it usually takes an hour one way.

Waterfall Cafe in the background

Caution

The trail is leaf covered which may lead to a slide or two. Trekking poles or a simple walking stick comes in handy.

We watched a group of youngsters slide at the rockfall while taking selfies. Fortunately, they were unhurt except for some bruises. This may be an easy trail but there are a couple of exposed sections, so watch your step.

Be extremely careful while crossing and traversing water bodies. The moss and slippery rocks have caught many trekkers unaware. We cannot stress this enough.

Essential Gear

  • Sunscreen during the summers
  • A peaked cap / hat during the summer
  • Swimming trunks & sandals, if you intend to wade into a natural water pool.

Downloads and GPS Logs

  • View and download on wikiloc
  • View and download from Google Maps
  • Download track and waypoints as GPX file (compatible with most GPS devices) or as KML file (compatible with Google Maps and Google Earth)

A topographical trail overview. Trail is marked in orange.

An elevation chart of the trail. The average grade is 0.7%

Trek Summary

DIFFICULTY

Easy.

SAC SCALE

T1 with T2 sections at rockfalls. (What is Swiss Alpine Club Scale?)

DURATION

1 to 1.5 hours one way from Gallu temple till Waterfall Cafe

DISTANCE

2.45 kilometres one way

MAX. ELEVATION

2126 meters

START AND FINISH

Sh. Gallu Devi temple, 2 kilometres from Dharamkot (5 kilometres from Mcleodganj main square)

GETTING THERE

Gallu temple is an easy 2-kilometre walk from Dharamkot along a well-defined trail. Taxis and auto-rickshaws can be hired from Mcleodganj. Taxis usually charge Rs. 400 for a one-way trip, auto-rickshaws charge Rs 300. A single seat on either a taxi or auto-rickshaw costs Rs. 100 one way.

ACCOMMODATION

6 guest houses at Gallu Temple. They charge between Rs. 500 to Rs. 2000 for a room. Lots of home stays and hotel options at Dharamkot.

WEATHER

Pleasant during the summer, yet it can get hot during the day. We recommend wearing a cap or a hat.

The waterfall is a milky white shower.

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